This $10 dongle changed how I use my iPad

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USB-C adapter
Anker’s little dongle is super handy.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The latest iPad Pro comes with a proper USB port, in the shape of USB-C. Now, as long as you can find the right cable or adapter, you can plug in pretty much anything short of a printer, and it will work as expected.

But you still need to find the right cable, or resort to a USB hub (none of which are really designed to work well with a tablet). In the past, that meant buying lots of USB-C to microUSB, USB-C to miniUSB, USB-C to USB-B cables, and so on.

If only I’d discovered this USB-C adapter first.

The Anker USB-C Adapter

Despite the spoiler-free lead-in to this article, the picture at the top gives it away. The dongle in question is Anker’s USB-C to USB-A Female Adapter. It’s a tiny metal adapter that slips onto the end of any USB-A cable, and lets you plug it directly into your iPad Pro.

The advantage of this adapter over a hub or dock are many — and they all come down to convenience. You can just keep using your old cables, and adapt them to your iPad’s needs. There’s no need to let a dock dangle off the side. You could, if you wanted, buy a few of these, and leave them attached to your most-used cables. Or you could keep it in a pocket for when you need it.

The Anker USB-C to USB-A Female Adapter is truly tiny.
Truly tiny.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I keep mine on the desk, in a little glass bowl that holds guitar picks, along with all Apple’s easy-to-lose dongles for headphones and Apple Pencil. The Anker USB-C adapter makes hooking things up way, way easier, because you don’t ever have to search for the right cable. As a long-time gadget reviewer, I have enough discarded USB cables to, uh … weave some kind of techno-hippy poncho. For giants. But I still — like most people, I expect — own relatively few USB-C cables.

USB-C docks are harder to lose

Docks are of course better for plugging in several gadgets at once. Or for keeping the iPad charged while you use it with USB accessories. Or for leaving on the desk, attached to all your accessories, so all you need to do is rock up and plug in one cable.

But the little Anker adapter proves perfect for everything else. One handy tip is to find an old USB keychain drive/stick, and push it into this adapter. Now you can hang the adapter on your keyring, and have it always handy. Somebody hands you a thumb drive full or reports/photos/press releases? No problem. Want to pull the USB cable out the back of your iMac and plug it into your iPad instead? Easy.

Hang Anker's USB-C to USB-A Female Adapter on a keychain.
Hang it on a keychain.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

But there’s one downside to this all-purpose USB-C adapter. It’s really easy to lose. Not as easy to lose as the original Apple Pencil Lightning adapter, but easy enough that I almost had no photos for this post. It took me about 15 minutes to track it down. Then again, this must-have dongle costs only $10.

So, if you have an iPad Pro, and you ever need to plug in a mouse, or a keyboard, or a thumb drive, or some audio gear, or a USB Ethernet adapter, or pretty much anything, you will be glad you had this thing in your pocket.

Buy from: Amazon — $9.99