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I have connected an external monitor to my macbook pro through a thunderbolt vga adapter. The monitor has several USB ports on it and if I plug a mouse or keyboard into them, they will not work. Is there a fix for this?

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You'll need to connect a USB cable (probably A/B) from the monitor to your laptop.

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    Yep, this is it. VGA can't transfer USB signals, and monitors with VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort or DVI require a separate USB cable to act as a USB hub. A Thunderbolt monitor can offer USB ports without an extra cable. – Alan Shutko Dec 29 '14 at 0:13
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Before assuming that their is a problem with your device. Some P.C's Require a manaul download of a driver. Which can be found Apple web sight.Original cable for your device is a must. If you have a cable for a camera device with the apple plug should be saficient. Sometimes additional driver to communicate with manufactures is also required for image or file output. Off brand cables are no good.

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