Mac problem: USB accessories with high power consumption will be disabled

USB accessories require too much power and are deactivated

A reader wrote to me this morning that his Mac threw the following message every time he plugged in the DVD player:

USB accessories disabled. Disconnect high-power accessories to activate USB devices.

Regardless of which port the device is connected to, the same message is always given and the external DVD player refuses to work.

The Mac throws this error message when a connected device wants more power than the USB port can supply.

The Mac throws this error message when a connected device wants more power than the USB port can supply.

Why is the power consumption too high?

The above message comes because the USB port on your Mac cannot provide enough power to operate the DVD player. The USB specifications regulate how much power is available at the USB port:

  • USB 3.1 Gen 2: up to 3.000 mA
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1: up to 900 mA
  • USB 2.0: up to 500 mA
  • USB 1.1: up to 500 mA

If the device wants to provide more power than the port can deliver according to the specification, the warning message appears on the Mac and the device is deactivated.

The USB ports on older iMacs still have the USB-A port, while newer iMac models have USB-C ports (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

The USB ports on older iMacs still have the USB-A port, while newer iMac models have USB-C ports (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

What USB specification does my Mac support?

To find out which USB standard your Mac uses, you proceed as follows:

  1. Apple menu
  2. About this Mac
  3. Support
  4. Specifications

There you will find a link to the Apple site, where you can find information about your Mac. The following data could be seen under the heading "Charging and expansion":

The “Charging and Expansion” section lists the Mac's USB specifications.

The “Charging and Expansion” section lists the Mac's USB specifications.

System Information app provides details about the USB ports

If you want a little more information, you can call up the system information in the following way:

  1. Apple menu
  2. About this Mac
  3. Overview
  4. System report
  5. Hardware> USB

With me you can see the USB 3.1 bus there, which you can select in order to then determine the maximum current that an external USB device without its own power supply can have under the entry "Available current". In my case this is 900 mA.

In the system profiler you can get detailed information about the USB support of the Mac.

Possible remedy: Y-USB cable or active USB hub

Since the USB ports in the Mac are difficult to exchange, there is only one way to get the external device working: you have to make sure that it gets more power. This can be done either with an active USB hub or with a Y-USB cable realize. With the solution with the Y-cable, however, I have a massive limitation that I will explain below.

Active USB hub (with power supply unit)

An active USB hub is a type of USB distributor, which, however, has its own power supply and thus also supplies the connected devices. I have that with me Orico A3H13P2 running with a total of 13 ports, but there are also smaller, active hubs here at Amazon that do the job. The Anker Ultra Slim 4-Port Hub with power supply would be a smaller solution, for example.

If you have a high need for USB ports, you can go for it take a look at the Orico Hubthat I have in use:

Finally a hub that can handle all my peripheral devices and still has a few ports free - the Orico A3H13P2 (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Finally a hub that can handle all my peripheral devices and still has a few ports free - the Orico A3H13P2 (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Y-USB cable for external power supply

The other solution is a so-called Y-cable, which is so called because of its construction. You connect this cable to both the Mac and an external USB power supply unit and connect it on the other side to the external DVD player, Bluray burner or the external CD drive - whatever it should be.

This way, the external device is powered by the power adapter while the data connection is running on the Mac. This is a good copy of a Y-USB cable Y-cables from Goobay. However, not all USB Y cables support the USB 3.0 standard. For external hard drives, SSDs and fast storage media, you should use a cable that offers USB 3.0.

goobay 95749 USB 3.0 Dual Power SuperSpeed ​​Y-USB cable for external HDD / SSD black
  • USB 3.0 Dual Power SuperSpeed ​​cable - 2x USB 3.0 plug (type A) to USB 3.0 socket (type A)
  • Y USB cable for feeding the power from two USB ports, e.g. for energy-intensive devices such as external 2.5 "...
  • UBS 3 SuperSpeed ​​data transfers up to 5 Gbit / s 10 times faster than USB 2.0

My recommendation: active hubs with power packs

I would tend to use an active USB 3 hub with a power supply rather than the Y-cable, as you can also use this to connect multiple devices to a USB port on the Mac or to charge the iPhone and iPad or to connect them to the Mac. This means that the area of ​​application is much broader.

 

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