Despite Thunderbolt, iPad to Mac communication is still a mess




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The latest iPad Pros have Thunderbolt ports, so you’d expect improved performance when connecting to a Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro. Instead, it’s a buggy mess.

Posts on Apple’s support website suggest that the iPad Pro wouldn’t connect to a MacBook Pro over Thunderbolt, period. Others state that they had more luck when using Apple-made cables, but there were still issues with maintaining a connection.

We tested the connection issue first using Apple’s Thunderbolt 4 cable included with the Studio Display and a Satechi Thunderbolt 4 cable that was newly purchased. When either cable was used, the iPad Pro would flash in and out of Finder as if the cable was shorted or broken somehow.

So, the MacBook Pro was at least acknowledging the iPad Pro was being connected, but it wouldn’t stay mounted in the Finder long enough for any real interactions. We were able to routinely reproduce this using any Thunderbolt 4 cable with the iPad Pro, but non-Thunderbolt cables worked fine. The iPad mini 6 with USB-C connected normally when using any cable, including the Thunderbolt cables, since it used the USB 3.1 standard.

Users should expect normal behavior when connecting Thunderbolt products together

Users should expect normal behavior when connecting Thunderbolt products together

We bypassed this bug by repeatedly removing and inserting an assortment of Thunderbolt cables from the MacBook Pro’s Thunderbolt port. Eventually, the connection remained stable with any one of a variety of cables, and files could be transferred and synced as usual.

However, this isn’t a proper fix since it must be repeated each time you restart the Mac and want to reconnect the iPad.

While we weren’t expecting much from them, we contacted Apple Support about this bug. The support representative took us through the usual troubleshooting steps as was expected, and they couldn’t confirm if this was a known issue.

The issue persisted after restarting the Mac, reinstalling macOS, and performing a safe boot.

There are three Thunderbolt 4 ports in the 14-inch MacBook Pro

There are three Thunderbolt 4 ports in the…

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