Apple’s well-recognized white power adapter has its permanent MagSafe or USB-C cable to your MacBook on one end and the other end has the removable wall prong that slides out along a metal stub. It also comes with a Power Adapter Extension Cable that can be used to add more length.
- That Extension Cable is heavy — bad for travel — and requires a 3-prong outlet/socket — often difficult during travel outside of the US. Due to both of these issues, I left that cable at home.
- Then there is an issue with the small American-style 2-prong piece because the big white brick often slides out of the wall outlet. Add an international adapter to the American-style prongs and the brick is certain to slide out of the adapter.
Look at the length I went to in order to not have that happen! I had to use an extension cord to remove the wall issue, then use a Bongo Tie to keep the combo in place. And even that was precarious.
The secret to an easier extension cable for your MacBook
Here is the solution to flexible travel with your MacBook!
You might think I am going to tell you about some brand of other country’s power plug that fits into the Apple Power Adapter. Indeed, they do exist. But they are bulky and don’t provide extra length to enable you to move away from the wall socket.
The solution is as simple as a spare generic cable for the country you’re visiting!
A generic C-7 — aka “Figure 8” — unpolarized (unpolarized) plug that goes into a printer, PC power adapter, CD player, old cassette tape recorder, or such actually works to power your Mac power brick! They cost about $5 in most countries. The UK version is closer to $10 because it’s a more intricate plug.
So for $5 or so, or for free if your hosts have an unused CD player lying around, you can use your host county’s wall socket and have zero issues with the brick falling out of the wall. Plus, you more than double the distance your MacBook can be from the outlet — even longer a distance that Apple’s beautiful but heavy official extension. (And you don’t have to lug that extension cord or adapters!)
Is it safe?
I know you’re wondering. Yes, it is safe. In late 2014 was given this tip by engineers at Delta, the company that designed and builds that power supply for Apple.
I’d always assumed — (not wise to do!) — that the metal stub in the brick was there to block us from using a different power cord. But it’s not!
That metal stub was actually designed to a height that allows us to use an alternative power cord!
Incredulous, I questioned the Delta team. If we’re using an unpolarized (unpolarized) plug, then are we losing grounding that we should have? I was assured by them that the only difference is that, at times we might feel a bit of a tingle where we rest our wrists.
I started using C-7, Figure 8, extension cables in September 2014 and as of May 2017, I have only felt that tingle about 8 times. Working on a 15″ or 17″ in Germany in 2014, I felt that tingle a bit though and a friend who uses the larger Macs also reported tingling. Working on my own 11″ MacBook, I have only felt it a few times and that was because my hand was wet or I was very, very tired. As we tend to travel with the smaller MacBooks we’ll be tingle-free.
Even when I am back in the US with my Apple Extension Cable, I carry a generic Figure 8 in the day bag I take on the go.
Note that I asked this prior to the USB-C power being used so we didn’t address that adapter specifically. I believe it is safe to assume that nothing regarding this tip has changed but you might ask Apple. I will check with Delta if I can.
Here’s what the C-7, aka Figure 8 power cord looks like. These are my USA and my Israel cords.
Starting in 2016 Apple has been using the USB-C connector which is smaller and is not Apple propriety so smaller power supplies have come out. When you don’t need distance from a wall outlet, this charger, The DART-C, is a fabulously small charging device for those newer MacBooks! Also, with this lightweight charger, an adapter to another country’s outlets won’t make it fall out of the wall. I have not used one yet but can’t wait to!