4 Best Ways To Identify USB Ports By Their Symbols

With the rise in technology, several versions of connectors and ports have been much more functional. This has also helped bring out more portable devices that are easier to carry and use. 

However, with the advancement of technology, things have also started becoming more complex as more features and complexities have been added. Most systems, especially computers and laptops, function and interact with the help of USB( Universal Series Bus) ports. 

Identify USB Ports by their Symbols

Socket USB plug-in. Type-c port USB connector replacing type A micro and mini USB, 3, 5 mm jack charge connector, hand-drawn MI, and display port. Vector set phone jacks typing cabling illustration.

There might be times wherein data transfer is not possible if the ports and the cable are incompatible. For these reasons, understanding the different types of ports and cables is integral, as how to identify USB Ports by their Symbols. 

What are USB Symbols?

 As we are already aware of symbols representing certain specifications, you may encounter several symbols in the computer system that serve different functions. Just like that, there are USB symbols as well. 

Since these USB symbols can be seen in almost every device, be it computers, laptops, phones, and the like, understanding the same is integral. The USB symbols represent the problems they can solve and the standard’s extensibility. 

Like the other trident, the USB trident also represents technological power. However, a distinct capability is represented by each component of the symbol. The arrow generally represents the serial data which contains bits of 1s and 0s to cover all of the information. 

The voltage at which the USB operates is also shown. The USB operates at 5V and is represented by a circle, while a square represents the negative or ground voltage. As a result, the structure of the USB symbol is very meaningful. 

Different USB ports and symbols

Generally, a USB port that only has the USB symbol labeled is a USB 2.0 port. USB ports labeled as SuperSpeed or SS is usually USB 3.0 port. However, if the USB port is labeled as “SS10”, it is a USB 3.1 port. 

Moreover, there is a slightly different symbol as well that you might have come across. Some USB has a charging symbol. This means that the port can take advantage of the USB 3.0, which results in faster transfer rates and allows fast charging of the device even if the system is not switched on. 

Different USB ports and symbols

The lightning bolt symbol on the port indicates that it can only provide USB power. This is generally only used to charge other devices, like smartphones. 

You can charge your device either if the system is on sleep or if it is powering off. This also largely depends on the type, model, and make. The transfer speed will also affect your desktop computer or the USB used. 

Types of USB ports 

Several USB ports on your tablets, computers, and other devices will come. Typically there are three types of ports. These days, USB-C is preferred more by t people since newer devices are compatible with the same. 

One of the main reasons is that it is regarded as the smallest port that transfers data faster and carries only up to 100W of power. The USB-C is similar to Lightning, but the only thing is that it uses a slightly different connector. 

USB-C cables can carry high-resolution 4K and 8K video. It will become slightly easier for you to understand how fast the transfer rates are if you get to know the design. 

How to Identify USB Ports by their Symbols on your Laptop or Computer

  1. Go through technical specifications
  2. Check the color of the port
  3. Identify the labels
  4. Check the Motherboard’s Technical Specifications

1. Go through technical specifications

Going through technical specifications will be easier for you to identify the USB ports if you want to do it without checking the colors and logo. However, to follow through with this method, it is integral for you to know your device’s built-in port so you can also locate it. 

On the Windows system, the process is almost the same for all. You can follow these steps to identify the port through technical specifications. 

  • Press the Windows key and R to open the Run dialogue box. Typing “Run” in the search bar will help you open the same. 
  • Once you open the box, type. “devmgmt.msc” and press Enter. 
  • After you are led to the Device Manager, locate the option “Universal Serial Bus controllers.” 
  • If it is a USB 2.0 port, you can see “Enhanced” in the description. 
  • However, if it is the USB 3.0, you will come across the xHCI or the Extensible Host Controller. 
  • Right-click on it and open Properties. You will be able to see more details about the USB port here. 

As for the Macbook, you can follow a few steps to check the technical specifications and identify the symbols. 

  • You will see an Apple icon on the extreme left corner of your monitor. Click on it and select the “About this Mac” option from the drop-down menu. 
  • Click on Systems Report and then select More info. 
  • You can then select Hardware from the System Information tab.
  • Expand the USB tab after that. 

You will be led to a complete list of the available USB ports, and the type of port can also be found from the same. Once you can do this, it will be physically easier to connect the USB to your device. 

2. Check the Colour of the port

Another easy way of identifying your USB port is by color. Several ports are marked by color, which gives them a clear visual identity. Most of the time, the blue ports are USB 3.0. 

This sets it apart from USB 2.0, as its interior is white or black. However, these days USB 3.1 ports in new devices have the color red in their interior. At the same time, the Always On ports are yellow. 

If you have managed to figure this out, it will be easier for you to figure out and identify the port. 

Check the Colour of the port

3. Identify the labels

Most of the time, labels are marked in the device’s body, such as 3.1, 3.0, 2.0, 11, and 1.0. With the help of the symbols, they can be marked accordingly. SuperSpeed USB is quite common among USB 3.0 ports, and the manufacturers mark it accordingly. 

They are generally marked with SS. However, if there is a thunderbolt lightning icon next to the USB port, it is an Always-on port. This means you can charge your device through this port, even if the device is switched off. 

This way, the device gets charged faster since more power can be delivered. 

4. Check the Motherboard’s Technical Specifications

Even though this method is slightly difficult and more tedious, you can check your motherboard’s or laptop’s technical specifications to understand or determine the USB port. Doing the same through this process also helps find the exact model. 

For windows, you can follow these steps.

  • Open the Run dialogue box by pressing Windows and R. 
  • Type “msinfo32” in the box and press enter. 
  • Find the System Model from the System Information window. 
  • Click on it and enter Ctrl+C. 
  • Paste it into any search engine and go through the search results. 

You might see the manufacturer’s webpage, and once you are there, press CTRL and F and type USB. You will see the port specifications in the list after that. 

The process is similar for Macbook as well. However, you can still click on the Apple icon at the screen’s top left corner. Click on the drop-down menu and select About the Mac. 

You can go through the system information where the serial number, operating system version, and model name and number will be displayed. Once you know which model you are currently using, it will be easier for you to identify the port through technical specifications online. 

Difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

There is generally a visual difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. This includes mainly terms of color. USB 2.0 generally is black inside the USB port. On the contrary, USB 3.0 is blue inside the USB port. 

There are similar differences between USB 3.1 and 3.0 as well. The block which is inside the USB 3.1 is usually red. You will also have to understand there is a huge difference between a USB and a thunderbolt. 

The thunderbolt cable has a faster speed as compared to USB-C. The former can transfer up to 40 gigabytes of data per second. To reach this speed, it is integral for you to also use the Thunderbolt cable along with the Thunderbolt port. 

On the other hand, a thunderbolt looks similar to the standard USB-C port. However, most of the time, there is an icon of a lightning bolt next to it. You will also have to keep in mind that the absence of that icon on your USB-C port means that the expanded capabilities of a Thunderbolt cable are not supported. 

Additionally, USB 3.0 also has better usage of power. Usually, USB 2.0, only takes around 500 mA, while in USB 3.0, the mA power goes up to 900. This will also lead to lesser periods for phone devices, especially if you are trying to charge from your laptop or PC. 

Types of USB Connectors

  1. USB-A
  2. USB 3.0 Type A
  3. USB 3.0 Type B
  4. USB 3.0 Internal Connector (20 Pin)
  5. USB 31. Internal Connector
  6. USB-B
  7. Mini- USB
  8. Micro – USB
  9. USB – C
  10. Lightning Cable
  11. USB On-the-Go Connectors

1. USB- A

USB -A is also known as the USB standard A connector. It is generally used on computer host controllers and hubs. The USB-A connector is intended to provide a “downstream” connection for host controllers and hubs and is rarely used as an “upstream.”

This is mainly due to the USB host supplying 5V DC power on the VBUS pin. As a result,  it is critical to remember that when purchasing USB cables, it is best to ensure that one of them should be USB A. 

Though not widely used, USB A male to A male cables are used to connect two USB A female style ports. You have to be careful that the standard A-A cables are not designed to connect two host computers to the hub. 

2. USB 3.0 Type A

In addition to the A-Type connector used in USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 applications, USB 3.0 A provides a “downstream” connection for hubs and hot controllers. However, USB 3.0 Type-A processes additional pins that USB 2.0 A Type does not. 

The USB 3.0 connector is designed to support SuperSpeed data transfer at 5Gbps bandwidth, while lower data rates can be transmitted with backward compatibility to USB 2.0 ports. USB 3.0 connectors are frequently blue or have a “SS” logo to help differentiate them from previous generations. 

3. USB 3.0 Type B

You will come across USB 3.0 Type B mainly on upstream ports, hubs, printers, and other USB peripherals. This connector and USB 2.0 can support the USB 3.0 SuperSpeed application. However, the speed data is comparatively low. 

You will also have to remember that the USB 2.0 B socket does not work for the USB 3.0 plug. This is mainly because there is a slight change in the plug change. 

4. USB 3.0 Internal Connector (20 Pin)

 USB 3.0 internal connector cables, developed by Intel, are typically used to connect the external USB SS ports on the front panel to the motherboard. The internal 20-pin socket contains two lines of USB 3.0 signal channels, allowing for a maximum of two individual USB 3.0 ports. 

However, this does not require you to share the channel data bandwidth. 

5. USB 3.1 Internal Connector

As mentioned above, USB 3.1 internal connector cables, also developed by Intel, connect motherboards to front-panel USB ports. The new generation internal connector, like the previous USB 3.0 internal connector, has a 20-pin header version. 

This supports a single Type C port or dual Type-A connections but with a smaller form factor and a stronger mechanical latch design. An internal connector with a 40-pin header version was also introduced to support two full-featured Type-C ports. 

6. USB Type B

The B style connector, also known as the USB standard B connector, is intended for USB peripherals such as upstream ports on hubs, printers, and other devices. One of the integral reasons for the development of USB B connectors was to allow the connection of peripheral devices without the risk of interconnecting two host computers. 

Although the USB B connector is still in use today, it is gradually being phased out in favor of more refined USB connector types. 

7. Mini USB

USB mini B sockets, similar to USB B type connectors but in a smaller form factor, are used on USB peripheral devices. The mini B plug has 5 pins by default, with an additional ID pin to support USB On-The-Go, allowing mobile devices and other peripherals to be USB hosts. 

Originally designed for older models of smartphones, the micro USB has replaced the Mini USB plug as smartphones have become more sleek and compact as well.

Digital cameras now use the Mini-B connector since they are not certified for the new devices, and the mini plug series are manufactured in smaller quantities. 

8. Micro USB

The scaled-down version of the mini USB is the micro USB B connector. This allows you to connect to several other hubs and computers, which means it is slim enough to connect to other mobile devices. 

The micro B type connector has 5 pins for the USB OTG, making external reading drives, digital cameras, and other peripherals easier. However, it should be noted that to enable the OTG feature, an implementation of the cable assembly should be enabled through a special wiring connection. 

The International Telecommunication Union, on October 22, 2009, announced the inclusion of a Mirco-USB interface into the widely adopted Universal Charging Solution (UCS). 

9. USB C

The USB-C or Type-C connector is the newest USB interface, debuting alongside the new USB 3.1 standard. Unlike the USB A and B connectors mentioned earlier, the USB C-type connector can also be used on several other devices and host controller ports. 

A slew of laptops and cellphones with C-style USB connectors have hit the market. The USB Type C connector supports USB 2.0, 3.0, 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 signals.

The USB 3.1 Gen 2 C to C cable can transmit data at up to 10 Gbps while providing enhanced power delivery and supporting HDMI alternate protocols and DisplayPort. 

10. Lightning Cable

Lightning cables are generally just USB 2.0 cables that can be connected to your iPod, iPad, or iPhone to an outlet adapter or USB port. This is mainly done either for charging or syncing purposes. 

Lightning cables have eight signal pins instead of the 30-pin dock connectors used by previous generations of Apple products. This size reduction contributes to Apple’s choice of manufacturing ultra-slim devices, for example, the iPhone 6 or iPhone 5. 

The size is almost the same as the standard micro-USB connector, which is barely larger than the former. Even though lightning cables are now 80 percent smaller than the previous model, they are much more durable and strong. 

Yet another advantage is that, unlike other cables, they can be plugged in any way, which means they are reversible. There is no specific correct or wrong way of plugging in the cable. 

11. USB On-the-go Connectors

A device, not a computer, can function as a host to another device using this specification. A smartphone, for example, can read data from a USB flash drive. All Android devices do not support OTG. You’ll notice a micro-USB or USB-C receptacle if your device supports it. 

Use an adapter for full-size USB ports as an alternative. As previously stated, USB OTG has a Micro-Ab receptacle, which has replaced Mini-AB. This port is compatible with Micro-A and Micro-B plugs. 

How to Identify USB 3.0 Port

If you are trying to identify the USB 3.0 port in your computer or laptop, there are several ways you can do it. First, if you have recently bought your laptop or computer, there is a high chance that it will have one USB 3.0 port. 

However, if your system is old, you might have more than one 2.0 port and only one USB 3.0 port. However, you can check and see whether you have the USB 3.0 port or not, both in Windows and macOS. 

For Windows, you can go through these steps.

  • Press Windows and R to open the Run dialog and then type devmgmt.msc and press Enter. 
  • Once you are taken to the device manager, scroll through the Universal Serial Bus Controllers list and open the drop-down menu. 
  • If you can see the Host Controller driver and the USB 3.0 entry, that would mean you have a USB 3.0 port. 

As for macOS, you can go through these steps to identify the USB 3.0 port

  • Click on the Apple icon at the screen’s extreme left-hand corner. 
  • Select About This Mac from the menu. 
  • Then click on System Report. 
  • Once the System Information menu opens, you can click on Hardware and check the USB tab. 

Once you do this, you will see the Universal Serial Bus list; if you have a USB 3.0 port, the same will be given in that list. 

Type of USB Cables

USB or Universal Serial Bus cables are common and an integral component in every electronic device since their main purpose is to connect to different electronic devices. The technological update follows the same trend wherein many types or versions of USB standards exist. 

Apart from USB connectors, there are different types of cables as well. The first one is the single type, which mainly refers to the cable used in host devices. You will also have to remember that it is not Type-A and completely different from it. 

A Type-C cable has both Type-A and Type-C connectors. For example, your Android phone will come with a micro-USB cable. Moreover, a Type-A cable is when it has both male connectors, which are Type-A connectors. 

Another kind of cable is the USB Type-A, the first type, while Type-C is the second type. If the two connectors have the same USB type, the cable will be labeled as USB Type-C to USB Type-C. 

Functions of USB

USB cables and ports can be used for several purposes, and additionally, there are more hubs and other peripheral devices with different functions. 

USB peripherical devices are referred to as USB functions. MP3 players, memory sticks, cameras, keyboards, mouse, and printers that a single host controller can support are examples of such devices. 

USB hubs divide a single attachment point, commonly referred to as a port, into multiple attachment points to accommodate more peripherals. A USB hub is an essential component of a standard USB configuration, particularly for laptops with a limited number and type of peripheral sockets. 

USB docks or docking stations are interchangeable with USB hubs due to their similar appearance and functionality. Docking stations can be used to create a workstation by connecting your laptop, external monitor, laptop, and other accessories. 

These 5K docking stations also have classic USB-A, and the USB connections that can emerge are ideally made for desktop computers and laptops. 

USB chargers are worth mentioning because of the growing popularity of portable devices, tablets, and smartphones that can be charged via USB. These power adapters provide the devices with five volts of power. 

A Type-A connector is inserted into the charger’s body, and another connector, such as Type-C, is plugged into the device. USB charging ports are also commonly found in public places, like shopping malls, airports, and the like. 

Difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt is a registered trademark that provides high-speed charging along with data transmission. The first two versions feature a Mini DisplayPort interface, while the third features a USB connector. 

Thunderbolt 3 ports, according to the FAQS, are compatible with USB cables and devices. They can also function as high-quality USB-C cables. You can also plug USB-C devices into the Thunderbolt 3 ports, which will function properly. 

However, you must remember that you will not be able to plug Thunderbolt 3 devices into USB-C ports. The functionality of the thunderbolt chipset is non-existent when it comes to the USB-C port. 

Difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt 3

The most basic explanation is that USB-C refers to the port shape and Thunderbolt 3 refers to the connectivity standard. Thunderbolt 3 is a USB-C connector that combines Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, power, and USB. 

The Macbook Pro has a “Touch Bar,” which is usually connected to the Thunderbolt 3 devices. Hardware known as USB-C devices will also work with a Thunderbolt 3 port. However, taking maximum speed provided by Thunderbolt 3 devices can’t be taken advantage of. 


The port look or the USB logo might be slightly confusing at times since you will not be able to figure out which USB port your system has. Hence, the desktops, USB hub, and physical hub should be looked at carefully during these times. 

Additionally, knowing and understanding your system’s type of USB port and cable required is integral for transferring data, charging other devices, and connecting external hard drives. Hence, identifying the USB ports merely by symbols is an easy way to do it. 

As mentioned earlier, there are several other ways that you can identify the USB port. Some of them are through colors, technical specifications, and the like. Once you figure out which symbol is for which USB port, data transfer, and other activities will be easier for you.