I have various devices to connect to my iMac using good-old RS-232.

Of course, I only have USB connectors on my machine.

I have a couple of Prolific PL2303-based cables, and they seem to work OK, but the kext provided seems a little flaky and I'm not sure about long-term support.

What is the most-stable, best-supported USB-Serial chip-set or cable?

  • Oh boy!! This one has always been a pain.. I always pray that people don't need to use Serial port much these days.. Hoping to see some good discussion on this one..
    – notthetup
    Mar 5 '11 at 17:15
  • My use-case(s) may be a little odd - controlling my Amateur Radio, downloading programs to a PIC chip, etc. No choice but RS-232!
    – sdg
    Mar 5 '11 at 18:05
  • Serial ports are hardly used anymore nowadays, they say. I have three permanently in use on my Mac.... Apr 14 '16 at 11:10

I have two Prolific USB-to-serial adapters but they are made by different Vendors (one is Prolific, the other ATEN).

I've used their supplied drivers just fine. Note that there are open source drivers for these devices too available here: https://github.com/failberg/osx-pl2303 FYI my use case is actually patching them through to a VirtualBox Windows VM and using them in Windows, so I have two layers of drivers and have not had any problems yet.

However, I think the best supported USB-to-serial devices are those made by Belkin. This is subjective, but I've used them for years without problem, and they are a large company with a reputation. They will likely be around in the future.


Just to be clear, I have not used this device myself.

Stewart Cheshire, creator of ZeroConf (the basis of Bonjour), gave a Google Tech Talk on the subject of ZeroConf, and presented a couple of embedded devices (Cameras, and an RS-232 unit).

I've always wanted to try this out, but have never had a good enough use to cough up the money to do so.

Stewart presented an RS-232 over Ethernet module from SitePlayer. They have a built in web interface used to set up the ethernet and serial parameters, and if I understand correctly, you simply telnet to the device's IP address in order to be presented with the serial interface. (See their pdf on the subject.)

  • Interesting, not clear how this would work with a local app expecting to 'find' a serial port on the computer, however...?
    – sdg
    Mar 6 '11 at 15:17
  • In that case, if it's explicitly designed to physically communicate, then no, I don't believe this satisfies your goal. Mar 7 '11 at 5:33

I'm professionaly using a Roline USB to Serial 0.3 m long adapter. I'm using the PL2303 OSX driver.

When I plug my cable, this driver dynamically create /dev/tty.PL2303-0000nnnn. I use it from a Terminal or xterm window with: screen /dev/tty.PL2303-0000nnnn.

0 problem with hundreds of connections on network equipments and servers (Brocade, Cisco, Extreme, Oracle (ex. Sun)…).


Both Prolific PL2303 and FTDI devices work fine.

I'm using a TrendNET TU-S9 v2 currently (PL-2303). Other than the vendor provided driver or driver from Prolific's Taiwan website, options include https://www.mac-usb-serial.com (fairly inexpensive driver), and the nice Mac app https://www.decisivetactics.com/products/serial/ (not free but works well) which has built-in drivers and doesn't require a separate driver installation.

I have also seen claims that FTDI drivers are built into MacOS now but haven't personally tested since I don't have a FTDI device.

One thing to be aware of - to connect to PC's and certain PC-like devices with serial ports (some routers/firewalls etc) you need a null modem adaptor or null modem cable between your USB-serial device and the PC/device you're connecting to, usually with female-female connectors.

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