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I'm working as a technician and would like to learn the capabilities of these cables.

I know a USB-C 3.1 gen. 2 can do it, but I'd like to know if a Thunderbolt-3 cable would do it.

I know that you cannot use the thunderbolt 3 cable to connect a Macbook 12-inch to a Mac with Thunderbolt-3 port, as Thunderbolt ports seem to only accept Thunderbolt cables for data transfer (and I tried to and didn't work).

Can you use a Thunderbolt 3 cable to connect two Macbook 12-inch in target disk mode?

  • this might help support.apple.com/en-us/HT204350 or this abut cables support.apple.com/en-us/HT201462 – Ruskes Mar 1 at 4:06
  • That second article is the one that confused me, as it seems to be wrong: it says "To connect a USB-C port to another USB-C port or a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port, use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) Cable.", which doesn't seem to be true, I tried connecting two 12-inch macbooks with a Thunderbolt-3 cable and they didn't see each other (one in target disk mode, the other in startup manager or in finder). – Antonio23249 Mar 1 at 5:27
  • Short answer: Yes. See this C|Net article – Allan Mar 2 at 2:34
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The Macbooks connector is only USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1), which is not Thunderbolt 3.

  • You can't connect in target disk mode via a thunderbolt 3 cable.
  • You can use USB-C data cable to connect in USB target disk mode.

(Not that this helps, but the Macbook Pro has native thunderbolt 3 support, and would work in this manner.)

You also can use migration assistant over ethernet if you have a usb-c ethernet on both ends or WiFi, if moving accounts is your ultimate goal.

  • This is not correct. A Thunderbolt 3 cable can be used as a USB-C cable and vice versa so long as the USB-C cable is of good quality. See this answer: apple.stackexchange.com/a/344119/119271 – Allan Mar 2 at 2:32
  • I think bmike is probably right (that you should use a USB-C 3.1 cable (without Thunderbolt 3 capability) as I tried with a Thunderbolt-3 cable and I couldn't connect the 2 macbooks. This would mean that my cited Apple article above is wrong (I mean support.apple.com/en-us/HT201462, which is why I posted this question) as it says that a Thunderbolt 3 cable should work. – Antonio23249 Mar 2 at 5:42
  • Allan, what you say is clearly wrong: a Thunderbolt-3 cable (which is also USB-C) can't always be used as a plain USB-C cable, much less the viceversa. I say "always" because they both can be used as you say for just charging, but not for data connections. We all know this USB-C story is confusing but that's the way it is. – Antonio23249 Mar 2 at 5:46
  • According to this support.apple.com/en-us/HT208368, at least one side needs to be TB3 port. I can't confirm right now but IME a Macbook simply would not work with a TB3 cable in TDM. @Allan note that all TB3 cables are USBC, but not all USBC are TB3; I'm not sure how your link is germane to this discussion, unless I'm missing something. And again, to reiterate, TB3 ports are not the same as USBC, and the Macbook only has USBC.. – Hefewe1zen Mar 2 at 13:53
  • @Antonio23249 - A Thunderbolt 3 cable must be able to support USB as it's one of the very signals that Thunderbolt carries. Referencing Apple Support is "safe" and "not wrong" but it's not always accurate. Ex: They will tell you to only use the charger that came with your Mac, however, you can easily use a charger greater than or equal to what it actually came with. – Allan Mar 3 at 15:22

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