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How to Fix Mac USB Ports Not Working: 9 Best Solutions

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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Mac USB ports not working can be a frustrating experience, as they are essential for connecting external devices such as printers, cameras, and other peripherals.

There can be various reasons for your Mac’s USB ports to stop working, including software issues and hardware problems. In this article, I’ll share several troubleshooting steps you can take to fix Mac USB ports not working.

Before We Begin

Not always, but sometimes your Mac’s USB ports may stop working due to malware. It’s crucial to address this issue instantly, or the virus will affect your Mac’s performance. You can download and install MacKeeper to run a virus scan on your Mac, and it may resolve the USB port problem.

Common Causes of Mac USB Ports Not Working

There are several common causes of USB ports not working on a Mac:

  • 🛠️ Hardware Issues: The USB port may be damaged or faulty. It can be caused by physical damage, such as a bent, broken connector, or electrical problems.
  • 💻 Software Issues: The operating system may not recognize the USB port due to a software problem. Outdated or corrupted drivers or system files can cause this.
  • 🔌 Power Issues: Some USB devices require more power than others, and the USB port may need to be able to provide more power to the device. A faulty power adapter or USB cable can cause this.
  • 🚧 Overloaded USB Bus: The USB port may only work if fewer devices are connected to the same USB bus. It can be caused by connecting too many devices to a single USB hub or chain.
  • 🛡️ Security Settings: Some security settings in the Mac may prevent USB devices from working properly. It can be caused by settings related to file sharing, firewall, or antivirus software.

How to Fix Mac USB Ports Not Working: Software Solutions

USB ports may not work if there is a problem with software solutions. Here are some effective methods to resolve software problems and fix your Mac’s USB ports.

1. Resetting the SMC (System Management Controller)

Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) on a Mac can resolve many hardware-related issues, including problems with USB ports.

The SMC is responsible for managing several aspects of your Mac’s hardware, such as power management, thermal management, and certain peripheral devices like USB ports. Resetting the SMC can clear corrupted settings or configurations, causing the USB ports to malfunction.

Here’s how to reset the SMC on your Mac to potentially fix USB port issues:

a. On a Mac With a Removable Battery

  1. Shut down your Mac.
click apple icon and select shut down
  1. Remove your MacBook’s battery.
remove mac s battery
  1. Press and hold the Power button for 5 seconds while the battery is removed.
press and hold the power button on your mac
  1. Release the Power button and reinstall the battery.
reinstall macs battery 1
  1. Turn on your Mac by pressing the Power button.
press and hold the power button on your mac

b. On a Mac With a Non-Removable Battery

  1. Tap the Apple icon and select Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
click apple icon and select shut down 2
  1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ + Control ^ + Option ⌥ keys with the power button for 10 seconds.
macbook air power shift control option keys
  1. Release all the keys and press the power button to turn on your MacBook.

After resetting the SMC, test your USB ports to see if they work correctly.

2. Clearing the PRAM or NVRAM

Clearing the PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory) or NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory) on a Mac can potentially resolve certain hardware-related issues, including USB port problems.

The PRAM/NVRAM stores various settings and configurations your Mac uses to function properly, including USB port information. Clearing this memory can reset these settings and potentially fix USB port issues.

Here’s how you can reset the PRAM/NVRAM on your Mac:

a. On Intel-Based Macs

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Press the Power button to turn on your Mac.
macbook air touch id
  1. Press and hold the Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + P + R keys simultaneously before the gray screen appears.
macbook air option command p r keys
  1. Keep holding the keys until your Mac restarts, and you hear the startup chime twice. If you have a Mac with the T2 Security Chip, keep holding the keys until the Apple logo appears and disappears twice.
  2. Release the keys and let your Mac start up normally.

b. On Macs With Apple Silicon Processors

There’s no need to reset NVRAM on Macs with an M1 or M2 processor. If a reset is needed, your Apple Silicon Mac will make it happen automatically during a restart. You don’t need any keyboard shortcuts to initiate the reset.

3. Check for Software Updates

macOS updates often include bug fixes and improvements, including addressing known issues with hardware components like USB ports. Updating your macOS can apply these fixes and resolve software-related bugs causing the USB ports to malfunction.

Here are the steps to check for software updates on your Mac to fix USB port issues:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select System Settings from the drop-down menu.
click apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Software Update.
click general and select software update
  1. Check for available software updates and install them by clicking the Update Now button.
click update now in software update 5
  1. Restart your Mac after installing updates, and it should resolve the Mac USB not working issue.

4. Check for Malware and Viruses With MacKeeper

While malware and viruses themselves may not directly cause USB port issues, they can sometimes interfere with system operations and potentially impact the functionality of various hardware components, including USB ports.

By ensuring your Mac is free from malware and viruses, you can eliminate any potential software conflicts that might be affecting the USB ports. Here’s how you can check for malware and viruses on your Mac using MacKeeper’s Antivirus:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and click the Antivirus tab in the left sidebar.
click antivirus under the security section 6
  1. Enable real-time antivirus protection to keep your Mac safe from viruses.
click enable to allow real time protection
  1. Once you have configured your security settings, MacKeeper will continue to protect your Mac in the background, scanning for threats and blocking malicious activity.
  2. You can also run an instant virus scan by clicking the Start Scan button.
click start scan in mackeeper antivirus 6
  1. If the scan finds any viruses, click the Fix Items button.
  2. If there are no issues in your system, click Restart to run the scan again or close the program.
click restart to finish the process 6

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides detecting and removing malware, MacKeeper can clear junk filesdelete duplicates, and uninstall unwanted apps. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to know more about its features.

5. Remove Conflicting USB Devices

Sometimes, conflicts between different USB devices connected to your Mac can lead to connectivity or functionality problems. By removing or disconnecting these conflicting devices, you can potentially restore the proper functioning of your USB ports.

Here are the step-by-step instructions to remove conflicting USB devices on your Mac to fix USB port issues:

  1. Disconnect all USB devices from your Mac.
  2. Restart your Mac.
click apple icon and select restart
  1. Reconnect each USB device individually, testing the USB port after each device is connected.
  2. If a USB device causes issues with a USB port, disconnect it and try connecting it to a different one.
  3. If the USB device continues to cause issues on multiple USB ports, the device may be defective and require replacement.

6. Use Terminal Commands

Here are the steps to fix software problems by using Terminal commands on your Mac to fix USB port issues:

  1. Open the Finder app.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click Applications in the left-hand sidebar and open the Utilities folder.
click applications in finder and open utilities
  1. Launch Terminal.
choose utilities from the menu bar and then click on terminal
  1. Type the following command into the Terminal window and press Enter:
sudo killall -STOP -c usbd
  1. Type your administrator password when prompted, and press Enter.
  2. Type the following command into the Terminal window, and press Enter:
sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/AppleUSBComposite.kext
  1. Type your administrator password when prompted, and press Enter.
  2. Restart your Mac, and it should resolve the USB port issue.

Hardware Solutions to Fix Mac USB Ports Not Working

Sometimes USB wires or connectors have a problem like they are bent or broken. It can also cause Mac USB ports not to work errors. Here are some methods to check and resolve the hardware issues on Mac.

1. Check USB Cables and Connectors

To check USB cables and connectors on your Mac to fix USB port issues:

  • Inspect the USB cable for any physical damage, such as fraying or cuts.
damaged charging cable
  • Use a different USB cable to connect your device to your Mac.
  • Inspect the USB connector on the device you are trying to connect for any physical damage, such as bent or broken pins.
  • Use a different USB connector or port on the device you are trying to connect.
  • If the USB port on your Mac is a USB-C port, ensure the USB-C connector is fully inserted and oriented correctly.
  • Ensure the USB cable and connector are compatible with your Mac and device.

2. Clean the USB Port

Now check the ports, as they may have debris in them. To clean the USB port on your Mac to fix USB port issues:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Disconnect all USB devices from your Mac.
plug in your macbook
  1. Use a toothpick or small brush to remove any debris or dust from the USB port gently.
  2. Compressed air blows any debris or dust out of the USB port.
  3. Dampen a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol and gently clean the inside of the USB port.
  4. Let the USB port dry completely.
  5. Reconnect your USB devices to your Mac.
  6. Start up your Mac.

3. Get the Mac Serviced

If nothing works, you should get your Mac serviced. Here is the instruction to get your Mac serviced:

  1. Contact Apple Support or visit an Apple Store to make an appointment for service.
  2. Describe the issue you are having with your USB ports.
  3. Provide your Mac’s serial number, which can be found in the About This Mac section of the Apple menu.
click apple icon and select about this mac
  1. If your Mac is still under warranty or covered by AppleCare, provide proof of purchase or coverage information.
  2. Follow any instructions Apple Support or the Apple Store provides to send in your Mac for repair or bring it in for a service appointment.

Wrapping Up

Although the fixes mentioned above should resolve the Mac USB ports not working issue, you may suffer again if you don’t pay attention to Mac maintenance.

If you face issues with your Mac’s USB ports again, here are 3 steps you must take to resolve USB port problems:

  • If you face USB-related issues, shut down your Mac and restart it to get rid of any temporary glitches.
  • Update your macOS to address known issues with USB ports and other hardware components.
  • Run the Apple Diagnostics test to learn about Mac hardware issues and address them efficiently.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I fix the USB ports on my Mac?

    You can try several solutions, including resetting the SMC, clearing the PRAM/NVRAM, checking for software updates, checking for malware and viruses, removing conflicting USB devices, using Terminal commands, checking USB cables and cables, and connectors, and cleaning the USB port.

  2. Why is my Mac not recognizing my USB device?

    It could be due to various reasons, including compatibility issues, physical damage or debris in the USB port, or driver issues. You should check if the ports are clean and compatible. Look for physical damage if you don’t find any problems with both. 

  3. What should I do if none of the USB ports on my Mac work?

    If none of the USB ports on your Mac work, verify if the USB devices work on another computer. Then, boot your Mac in Safe Mode to check if the issue is related to third-party software. Create a new user account and test the USB ports. Lastly, perform a clean reinstall of macOS if all else fails.

Pawan Singh

Author

Pawan is your go-to tech buddy with over 4 years diving deep into the world of Macbooks and cool gadgets. He's written a ton of articles, blending his tech-savvy expertise with a dash of friendly banter. When it comes to the latest in tech, Pawan's got the scoop and isn't shy to share it. Trust him, he's been around the block a few times!

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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