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What Ever Happened to One of the MacBook’s Best Features?

The old connector solved a problem that today’s USB-C connections fail to even address.

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Apple first introduced the MagSafe in 2006 with the MacBook Pro and it continued to be its go-to power connector for the next 12-odd years. Apple incorporated it into every one of its laptops, including the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Then, in 2016, the move to USB-C started. And by mid-2019, the MagSafe had been phased out completely. The connector died its final death last year when the 2017 MacBook Air, Apple’s last new product that still used MagSafe, was discontinued in July.

MagSafe’s death did not go unnoticed. Its brilliant magnetic design allowed it to be strong enough to connect to and power a laptop, but quick enough to release there was any tension, enough to save you from destroying your laptop if you tripped over the cable. Plus, it made a wonderful little sound every time it snapped into place.

But MagSafe lacked the versatility of today’s USB-C connections. It was a dedicated port for power supply and Apple needed to get more out of its ports. The USB-C (Thunderbolt 3.0) on more modern MacBooks can not only power your laptop, but transfer data and output video (allowing you to connect your laptop to an external monitor, for example.) Not just that, the USB-C (Thunderbolt 3.0) connection allows your laptop to output power so you can charge your other devices — such as your smartphone, headphones or portable power bank — just by plugging it into your laptop.

Then, there was the size factor. The USB-C connection is a smaller form factor than the MagSafe. That, and the versatility of the USB-C connection meant that Apple didn’t need to dedicate spaces for all the other connections, such as USB-A (2x), HDMI, ethernet and an SD card reader — at the cost of requiring you to pick up a hub or dongle to replace them, of course.

Apple seems keen to put the MagSafe forever in its rearview. It never released a MagSafe-to-USB-C adapter, which seems a bit odd, although you can find some third-party alternatives if you search hard enough (like Griffin’s Breaksafe Magnetic USB-C Power Cable or Innerexile’s ThunderMag. That said, you can still buy a MagSafe charging cable and power adapter on Apple’s website, which is now a vestige of what Apple has left behind.

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