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Monday, August 6, 2007

Demystifying Ethernet for Macs

The type of Ethernet cable required to connect two Macs without a hub or other middle-device has changed over time. In the old days, you absolutely had to have a crossover cable or the Macs wouldn't be able to see each other. And if you used a hub or router or other intermediary device, you had to use regular Ethernet cables.

It's less true today because many Macs built in the past year or two — and every Mac sold today — has new and improved Ethernet that can determine what type of cable (regular or crossover) that you're using and then automatically adjust itself so that the cable works properly.

These days, you may encounter three possibilities:

  • If you want to connect two older Macs, you need a crossover cable.
  • If you want to connect an older Mac to a newer Mac, you may or may not need a crossover cable.
  • If you want to connect two late-model Macs, you can use either kind of cable.

When in doubt, check Mac OS Help in the Help menu.

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