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Add an Ethernet port to your MacBook Air for an easy $7

Without an Ethernet port, the MacBook Air is a wireless-only device. But, with a cheap, portable adapter, you can hook it up to a wired network whenever you need.

Sharon Profis Vice President of Content, CNET Studios
As the Vice President of CNET Studios, Sharon leads the video, social, editorial design, and branded content teams. Before this role, Sharon led content development and launched new verticals for CNET, including Wellness, Money, and How To. A tech expert herself, she's reviewed and covered countless products, hosted hundreds of videos, and appeared on shows like Good Morning America, CBS Mornings, and the Today Show. An industry expert, Sharon is a recurring Best of Beauty Awards judge for Allure. Sharon is an avid chef and hosts the cooking segment 'Farm to Fork' on PBS nationwide. She's developed and published hundreds of recipes.
  • Webby Award ("How To, Explainer, and DIY Video"); Folio Changemaker Award, 2020
Sharon Profis
2 min read

Although the slim, ultralight profile of the MacBook Air is impressive, owners must sacrifice a few features PC owners take for granted, like an optical drive and an Ethernet port.

Without an Ethernet port, the Air is a wireless-only machine, forcing users to find a Wi-Fi connection, even if there's a more stable wired network available.

Apple offers two workarounds: a USB Ethernet adapter and (new for 2012) a Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter. However, each of them will set you back $29.

Thankfully, there are plenty of cheaper USB to Ethernet adapter solutions out there.

Monoprice, the Internet's best-kept secret of cheap cables and the like, sells a USB to Ethernet dongle for $6.64, nearly $22 cheaper than Apple's comparable product.


Usage couldn't be simpler. No drivers are needed -- just plug the adapter into your Air's USB port, and plug the available Ethernet cable in to the adapter.

If you're a die-hard Amazon customer, try the I/O Crest SY-ADA24005 USB 2.0 Ethernet Adapter. It's currently priced at $7.90, but that includes free shipping for Amazon Prime subscribers.

One thing to note, though: the USB adapters listed here (including Apple's) are rated at USB 2.0 speeds, so they max out 100Mbps -- even, apparently, when attached to the faster USB 3.0 ports on the latest 2012 MacBooks. (If you need gigabit speeds and can't wait for a bargain USB 3.0 adapter, you should opt for the Thunderbolt one for now.)

But, heck -- for around $7, the Monoprice or I/O Crest dongles are worth adding to your toolkit for those times when the only connection available is via a good ol' wired network.

This story has been updated since its original publication to clarify issues of USB speed, add an alternative product from Amazon, and to add a mention of Apple's Thunderbolt adapter.

Watch this: Apple's 2012 13-inch MacBook Air is more for less