How do I connect a microphone to my MacBook?

A lot of people who have suddenly found themselves working or teaching from home have realized something -- you can't connect a microphone to a MacBook headphone jack.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

It seems that a lot of people who suddenly found themselves working from home have discovered something rather annoying -- while they can plug a microphone into the 3.5mm headphone jack on a MacBook, it doesn't work.

No matter how much they plug and unplug it, twist it around, or turn the air blue with enthusiastic cursing.

So, what's the problem, and what do you do about it?

Note: This is the case for MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, and iMacs, along with a lot of modern Windows laptops. If you connect a mic and it shows up as headphones, the following will help you.

Well, the problem is compatibility between the microphone jack and the jack built into the MacBook. The headphone jack is called TRS, which stands for "tip, ring, sleeve," and if you look closely at the jack, you'll seen three bands on it.

The MacBook needs a TRRS jack, which stands for "tip, ring, ring, sleeve," and this has four bands.

Here's a good explanation by Monoprice.

So, what can you do? You have a few options.

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The easiest way around this is to use a converter cable like this, which will cost less than $10.

StarTech.com Headset Adapter

Alternatively, you can get a USB-A or USB-C which will plug into a USB port, no drivers needed. Again, these will cost you less than $10.

Sabrent USB-A/USB-C External Stereo Sound Adapter

I've tested both of these, and both work great. So if your built-in mic isn't good enough for what you want to do, this is a great and cheap way to add a wired mic (or you could use a kit like this Rode Wireless Go to go wire-free) to your laptop.

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