Reduce cable clutter and maximize peripheral performance

Take Control of
Untangling Connections

Glenn Fleishman

Frustrated with your peripheral cables? Tangled up in standards and compatibility? Glenn Fleishman figuratively cuts through the mess of ports, cables, and protocols with his new book, Take Control of Untangling Connections. The book sets out to answer the most common questions and troubleshoot frequently occurring problems. You’ll learn how to buy the best cable, identify the cables you have, and recognize and research ports. You get all the answers on how to connect USB, Thunderbolt, Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI, and audio at the fastest, best, or highest-fidelity method available.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


We spend our lives plugging stuff into our computers, smartphones, tablets, and other hardware. Why is it so hard to make it all work as we expect? Glenn Fleishman knows the answer to this: standards don’t develop in lock step, and whenever anything is out of sync, we wind up with frustration. He also knows the questions! As a writer about all things Apple for decades, he has used multiple generations of interface and connection standards, and he reads hundreds of questions a months from readers wrestling with their gear.

Take Control of Untangling Connections is his attempt to put power (and video and data and more) back in your hands by helping you cut through cable clutter and confusion and find the right plug for the right jack—and the right cable.

Glenn posted an 11-minute video on YouTube about cables and connectors to answer some common questions, and it also serves as a preview of the book:

The book covers data networking with USB, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet; audio and video over DisplayPort, HDMI, and USB-C; and all the ins and outs of recognizing ports, researching your requirements, and finding or buying the right cables, adapters, and converters. There’s even a chapter on physical decluttering: how to organize your cables in your home and office.

You’ll learn the answers to questions like:

  • How do I ensure I have the fastest connection between any combination of USB and Thunderbolt standards?
  • What’s the fastest computer-to-computer connection?
  • Why is my USB-C cable handling data only at 480 Mbps?
  • How can I make sure my 1080p, 4K, 5K, 6K, or 8K display can show its maximum resolution?
  • Why can’t I connect more displays to my computer?
  • How do I know how many watts a given port can offer a device I plug into it?
  • I plugged my laptop (or tablet) into a USB-C port—it’s only charging at a trickle, but the port says it should offer up to 100 W. How can I fix this?
  • What’s the fastest generally available computer-to-Ethernet connection?
  • I have an unmarked cable with USB-C on one end and a Type-A connector on the other. How fast can it transmit data?
  • This cable isn’t marked, but it has USB-C at both ends. What kind of cable is it?
  • What sort of adapter, dock, hub, or switch might I need to connect this thing to those things?
Glenn Fleishman

About Glenn Fleishman

Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, Fast Company, and Increment. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. He spent 2019 and 2020 building 100 tiny type museums full of real printing artifacts. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

What’s New in Version 1.1.1

This version fixes some minor typographical errors.

What Was New in Version 1.1

I received some excellent clarification from a technical expert about the differences between Thunderbolt 3 passive and active cables and Thunderbolt 4 “universal” cables as described in “Thunderbolt Capabilities.” I’ve updated the book to incorporate this understanding, particularly in “Mandatory Elements Shape Thunderbolt 4.”

This update also corrects some minor typographic and related errors.

  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 1.1.1
    • What Was New in Version 1.1
    • What Was New in Version 1.0.1
  • Untangling Quick Start
  • Quick Links for Common Questions
  • What Ports You Have
  • Introduction
  • Connect and Extend
    • Discover Peripherals and Devices
    • Learn About Ports
    • Consider Where Hubs and Docks Fit In
    • Attach a Cable or Interpose an Adapter
  • Identify Jacks and Plugs
    • Read Technical Specifications
    • Find Operating System Information
    • Inspect Ports Visually
  • Link Devices with Cables
    • Examine the Connector
    • USB Capabilities
    • Thunderbolt Capabilities
    • DisplayPort and HDMI Capabilities
    • Ethernet Capabilities
    • Audio Capabilities
  • USB and Thunderbolt
    • Consider USB and Thunderbolt Scenarios
    • Get To Know Bus Standards
    • USB and Thunderbolt Data
    • USB and Thunderbolt Power
  • Video and Audio
    • Video Questions and Answers
    • Uncompressed Video Eats Bandwidth
    • Video Standards
    • Plug into Video (and Audio)
    • Cope with Copy Protection
  • Networking
  • Cable Organization
  • Appendix A: FireWire
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
  • Copyright and Fine Print

Glenn Fleishman Discusses Untangling Connections on MacVoices

Posted by Joe Kissell on April 22, 2022

Glenn Fleishman joined host Chuck Joiner on MacVoices about his book Take Control of Untangling Connections.

In part one, Glenn offers tips on figuring out what cable is right for what task and how to identify cables.

In part two, Glenn continues the discussion with thoughts on USB-C, Thunderbolt, and more.


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