USING a 2018 Mac laptop (any) as a hard drive

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
For years, we have used our MacBookPro (2009) as a hard drive, hooked up to a keyboard, monitor and mouse when not traveling. It's time to replace. I was looking at the new MacMinis and considering an iPad. I actually do lots of video editing, etc., but for this use, it's really internet, emails, word, that sort of thing. That got me thinking: I could possibly go with a refurb'd AIR or the 128gb, etc etc you know lower end, use EHDs when necessary. But I also understand that all those slots that I used in the past for the printer, keyboard, USBs, etc. are gone.
So, the question: Are there Hubs for the "C" and Thunderports (or whatever they are called?) That connect micro usb and reg usb to the Air? And is it still feasible to use a laptop as a HD?

And, of course, this has hit a wall now as I have been researching the apparently nightmarish butterfly keyboard.
In any event, thoughts on using the AIR as a Hard Drive when not needed as a laptop? Or, iPad with a keyboard for travel + the Mac Mini ... At least with the iPad there isn't a dust issue :-0
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Not sure if I understand your question. As near as I can tell, you would be describing using the Mac portable as a desktop (with lid closed, and external display, keyboard, and mouse, etc.) That's not just using as a hard drive, but using the CPU and booted to internal drive, but with the lid closed. That's what Apple calls "closed-clamshell mode".
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201834
And, yes, you could use a new MBAir in clamshell mode. Plug in an external display, and add an external keyboard/mouse/trackpad/whatever.
You just need the correct adapters for a display, and USB-C to USB-A adapters of the correct orientation for wired keyboard/mouse, or a hub with the suitable connections, or simply use bluetooth keyboard mouse. Your choice on that...
When you are ready to purchase your MBAir, that's a good question to ask at an Apple store, and they would have a couple of different choices for external connections for those USB-C/Thunderbolt ports.

There's also the mode called "target disk mode"(TDM), where you connect via thunderbolt or firewire to another Mac, and boot the first Mac to TDM. You get access only to the hard drive (or other drives that might be attached), but the CPU and vid card are not used at all. TDM operates the first Mac as an external drive, and that's it. You would use two separate Macs for TDM, one for the computer, and one for storage (which could also be the drive that you use to boot your other Mac :cool: )
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201462
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
Just to clarify... Yes, simply using the laptop as a mac mini so to speak, with everything hooked up to it. Used our MacBook that way for 8 yrs.
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
And I've been researching the hub issue. Nickels and dimes but I think I can still chain hubs with one of the USB slots in the u c hub. I need to connect printer, Webcam, etc 5 bits to the computer. I'm starting to lean toward iPad and Mac mini Vs laptop as HD. Using iPad for travel and have mac mini set at home. Cheaper for this in the long run. Low ends will work here.. For the usage... Needs.
 

Satcomer

In Geostationary Orbit
And I've been researching the hub issue. Nickels and dimes but I think I can still chain hubs with one of the USB slots in the u c hub. I need to connect printer, Webcam, etc 5 bits to the computer. I'm starting to lean toward iPad and Mac mini Vs laptop as HD. Using iPad for travel and have mac mini set at home. Cheaper for this in the long run. Low ends will work here.. For the usage... Needs.
I've seen many reviews on they Caldigit Thunderbolt 3 Plus Dock seem very good if you get and active Thunderbolt 3 cable thirty's 2.0 Meters long to use under a desk!
 
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TuckerdogAVL

Registered
Sorry I haven't been on in awhile. Just reposted my question in another way actually. The price ont that Caldigit is way over my budget, but thank you. Here's the one I found by Plugable: USBC-MD101 For about $50. That's about my budget. Maybe $100. https://plugable.com/products/usbc-md101/ And they have one for under $200...

Back to looking at the laptop as HD. Just don't think the mini and iPad will work for us.

USB - needs to be able to have a TM backup and an external to it. Currently the old MacBookPro has the TM going directly to it. And a printer, and a keyboard and the mouse dongle and a usb extension that I use to occasinally hook up the phone ...

Now, I could use a USBC to USBA in the other thunderbolt3 for the backup I guess (and I do have a TB external now I have partitioned so part of it can be the TM and other would be the external) ... so, can this thing work?

I've now read about Mojave and problems with Displaylink and I have no clue about that or what displaylink could cause or whatever. I cannot afford to test things that have asterisks and footnotes about returnability or may or may not work ... you understand, I'm sure. Thanks for all your help along the way. BTW, is USB-C and Thunderbolt3 the same thing?
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Last question first :cool: : https://thunderbolttechnology.net/blog/difference-between-usb-c-and-thunderbolt-3

You will see after reading that article that Thunderbolt 3 is much faster than USB-C. Both kinds of connections are provided via the same USB-C connectors.
Thunderbolt requires an active adapter and device that supports thunderbolt 3. The Thunderbolt part of that connection has to be provided by the logic board (the system board in you MBPro does that.) The Thunderbolt 3 devices remain substantially more expensive than USB-C devices, partly because the active connection requires more expensive components, and partly because the license to use the thunderbolt technology adds to the cost of that hardware.
TB hubs/docks give you MUCH more capability and power than simple USB hubs.
So, you can use a USB hub to provide other USB connections. A USB hub, however, will not extend a thunderbolt connection unless that particular hub also provides Thunderbolt capabilities. You have to do your homework on this.
One advantage to Thunderbolt is that Thunderbolt devices can be daisy-chained (plugging one device into another thunderbolt device, thus extending the chain without other external hubs). The device has to have at least a second TB connector to provide that. Not all do.
Pure USB devices don't have an option for daisy-chaining.
TB3 allows you to extend your graphics capabilities by adding an external graphics card for potentially higher graphics performance, such as that might be needed for computer gaming, or other software that can take advantage of more powerful video cards. USB has some minimal provisions to connect external displays (with relatively poor performance if you are using the USB bus for that video connection)
TB3, on the same connector used by USB-C, gives you a variety of possible video connections, usually running at the same speed as the system/graphics bus, not limited by the USB bus, almost as if it were connected directly to the internal system bus (which is what TB provides.
All on the same physical connector.
It all depends on your needs... It's all quite confusing, so I suggest that you do even more reading.
Try to find local folks that are actually using that kind of gear. Talk to your Apple "genius", too.
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
So. Will this work: https://www.amazon.com/Certified-Apple-MacBook-2018-2017/dp/B01N5PX0DH
Or will this work:https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076BKF1SM/ref=psdc_3015402011_t3_B077JXPG3G
The answer "you have to do your homework" really doesn't help, though I know you mean well. Because as you know if you actually think you know something and you attempt to find backup information - or products - I don't care who says "use quotes or + or this or that" online, one will not always get products that match. For example, these I specifically added 2018 Mac Book Air in the search. But "SIMILAR" products reveal 2016, 2017, Macbook pros, macbook airs, etc etc. So, no way of knowing.

The reason I'm here is that the Apple "GENIUS" said, "maybe" "it depends" "We have something I think might work" Will that be Visa or American Express.

I appreciate all the information about TB hubs and their capability, etc. but I'm really simply trying to find out what TB3 hubs will work with a 2018 MacBook Air. And whether I can attach a monitor with hdmi. And whether I can attach all the gizmos - keyboard, mouse, printer, External HD - i have attached now. All the other stuff about gaming or higher graphics performance doesn't matter. No I am using an HDMI connection and actually that is in an adapter to the 2009 MacBook Pro - and it works fine.
Prior to that it was connected to a VGI adapter. And that worked fine.
And the powered USB hub has 4 devices attached to it and another hub that has 4 devices attached to it. And that works fine.

So, if I need to continue reading and looking at xyz info, I then need to know what gizmo, brand, manufacturer, company, product to look for. Because I'm at the point that it doesn't matter how or what... what matters is "does."

If you have any recommendations for the gizmo that will allow those things to connect to the 2018 MacBook Air the way the work and connect to a 2009 MacBook pro that would be terrific. Thanks again.
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
PS Still, almost all information is about a MacBook Pro and when i read the articles I see no mention of MacBook Air 2018.
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Those 3 docks that you posted appear to show that each of those are supported on 2018 MBAir.
I kinda like the Plugable dock that you posted, and might prefer the "dongle" kind of connection over the "integrated-dual connection" form of the first two you posted. The only thing that I would consider is the one response which states that the adapter won't provide 4k, 60hz video, and would be limited to 30hz refresh on a 4K screen. That may or may not be a concern for you.

@Cheryl says that the USBC-MD101 does not list your MBAir as supported.
I disagree, as the MacBook Air 2018 is specifically listed in the "additional compatibility information" chart, showing that it supports both video support, and USB-C power delivery support. (Moderators, although a powerful life-form, may not be perfect :D )
So, it's probably good for your use - maybe (subject to testing with your actual hardware connected)
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
Just need to make sure I find one with HDMI as well ... Unforunately, again I have to purchase the $1300 MacBook Air first to test. Expensive test. :-0
 

TuckerdogAVL

Registered
The "Plugable USBC-MD101" has HDMI, doesn't it? It shows compatibility with your MBAir (despite what @Cheryl posted)
I believe so. I'd have to check. I'm on chat right now with Monoprice. This is at the top of my budget but has 30 day money back guarantee if it doesn't work for me and the rep "confirmed" that I could plug the USB 2.0 Hub into the port and all could run off of it.
https://www.monoprice.com/product?c_id=103&cp_id=10330&cs_id=1033002&p_id=31261&seq=1&format=2
 
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