How to plug in your USB Type A connector correctly the first time

Raymond Chen

Raymond

Nearly every USB plug has a USB logo printed on one side. Use this one weird trick: Plug it in with that side facing up.¹

Make sure it’s the USB logo that’s facing up. The manufacturer logo, if present, faces down.

When I find a plug that lacks a logo. I put a small sticker on the “top” side.

Most power adapters in the United States are unpolarized two-prong Type A, which means that they can be plugged into the wall in either orientation. I write the amperage on a small sticker and stick it to the “top” side of the adapter.

There are some manufacturers who install their USB receptacles sideways or (heaven forfend) upside-down. I use a small sticker to identify the “logical top” side of those receptacles.

¹ “Rule of thumb: Thumb on the logo.”

20 comments

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  • Avatar
    Jonathan Smith

    Works great until you’ve got a vertical USB port and it’s unclear whether left or right is “up”. 😀
    (And a special raspberry to micro USB ports on devices that are mounted “upside down”; so the micro USB logo needs to be pointing down when the device is screen up; I’m looking at you unnamed popular ebook reader)

    • Clockwork-Muse
      Clockwork-Muse

      Hence why:

      There are some manufacturers who install their USB receptacles sideways or (heaven forfend) upside-down. I use a small sticker to identify the “logical top” side of those receptacles.
  • Avatar
    David Walker

    I read that one of the inventors of the USB specification (or the form factor, or something) recently passed away. He was buried upside down at first, so he had to be taken out and turned over.

    (I hope that’s not disrespectful!)

    And yay to the designers of USB-C so that it works in both orientations.

    I looked at sixdifferent brands of USB flash drives in my desk. None of them has a USB logo on the plug.

  • Gunnar Dalsnes
    Gunnar Dalsnes

    I checked a random collection of 10 cables in arms reach. 2 of 10 has a usb logo. 2 of 10 has no logo. 6 of 10 has vendor logo where the first 2 had usb logo. So “The manufacturer logo, if present, faces down” was a 100% miss for me.
    Edit: no cables had both usb logo and vendor logo.

  • Ivan K
    Ivan K

    I eventually discovered the 2 “holes” on the top idea to detect the orientation of A cables. This works for me for most cables and sticks with no logo or black on black logos (I find the silver metal easy to see even in low ambient light). The top has the “holes” punched “through” the metal and the other side has them “filled in”.
    All my devices (luckily?) have the orientation correct and vertical recepticles have the top on the “left”. And I’m not very adventurous when it comes to choosing usb memory stick brands so I don’t have to worry about sticks with moulded plastic Barbie or Ken or whatever froufrou plugs: just bare metal for me, thanks.
    USB superspeed micro B cables for external disks of a certain age still seem to exhibit quantum effects however (https://www.reddit.com/r/ProgrammerHumor/comments/226qum/usb_superposition)

    • Avatar
      Dan Bugglin

      I can feel for the two “prongs” on one side of Micro-USB connectors which I use to orient the cable for plugging into my headset.

      Would still prefer USB-C of course.

  • Avatar
    ben@decadent.org.uk

    I’m not sure the logos are all that consistent. I orient USB A plugs using the join in the metal shielding, which seems to always be on the underside.

  • Avatar
    aidtopia

    I suspect the convenience of Type C’s reversibility comes at the cost of lifespan. The contacts are much smaller than the ones on a Type A connector (for a variety of reasons, including reversibility). As cables are disconnected and reconnected, the contacts will wear, and, presumably, smaller contacts will wear out faster. And the higher current ratings of Type C means the smaller contacts are already closer to the minimum size required. In fact, to get the rated 5A, the current is split across four pairs of conductors.

    • Avatar
      Jernej Simončič

      I’ve had a few permanently connected USB-C cables stop working for no visible reason (the cable simply wouldn’t be held in the socket any more). These were USB-C to DisplayPort used on NUCs.