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I have had the times where I have used a usb networking card, or other device, and it didn't show up, although I was not sure if it was compatible with OSX. I just was not sure if OSX had a way to scan incase it did not recognize it, or if you needed to install a driver.

Is there a way to see what hardware is on the machine, like a device manager?

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Hit the  in the far top-left hand side of the screen, choose About This Mac, then click More Info.... System Profiler is the most Device Manager-like thing on the system. It doesn't have actions (update driver, roll back, uninstall, etc.), however. Oh, and if you're on Lion, you'll have to click System Report... on the More Info... window. –  Jason Salaz Jan 13 '12 at 20:49

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Generally speaking there's nothing you have to do except launch the application that supports your hardware.

If you add a new network device, it is immediately listed the next time you open the Network preference pane in System Preferences.

If you add a new sound device, is it immediately listed in the Sound preference pane in System Preferences. (You can also Option+Click the volume icon in your menu bar within seconds of plugging your device in and see it in the list.)

You don't need to "add new hardware" to use it. If it is compatible, it generally just shows up.

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" just shows up." really means that OSX does the scanning for changes itself –  Mark Jan 13 '12 at 17:22
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True, but "just shows up" also means there is no step 3. (Step 1 is plug it in, Step 2 is use it.) –  Jason Salaz Jan 13 '12 at 17:24
    
Step 3: Profit! –  barrycarter Apr 9 '13 at 13:45

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