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  • zedkay Level 1 Level 1

    Here is my solution to this problem that has plagued since the beginning.


    Since September 2011, I have had an early 2011 15-inch MacBook Pro (MBP), and a Thunderbolt display (TD). I usually always have the MBP connected to the TD. I keep the MBP opened, not closing it all the way, mostly for air flow. I hardly ever do a shut down, just sleep mode. So, I do not have to do this solution very often.


    When I do take the MBP on the road, or have to do a shut down, this problem of the TB not recognizing USB devices occurs for me, too.


    Here's my set up.


    I have a Belkin powered USB 4-port.


    Items plugged into the Belkin USB hub are:

    • My iPhone USB cable.

    • An external 1TB Western Digital Passport drive (for Intego Personal Back up).

    • A USB cord to an APC UPS (uninterrupted power supply).


    Items plugged into the Thunderbolt Display are:

    • The Belkin USB hub.

    • Ethernet cable.

    • Thunderbolt cable to LaCie 1TB external (Time Machine back up). Yes, I have two back ups.

    • USB Apple Extended Wired Keyboard.

    • USB Kensington Expert Mouse


    The all-in-one Thunderbolt cable with mag power connector from the display to the MacBook Pro are the only connections to the MBP.


    My solution:

    1.) Shut down everything.

    2.) Unplug the Thunderbolt Display power cord from the UPS.

    3.) While the TD is still unplugged from the UPS, I disconnect the Thunderbolt connector only from the MacBook Pro (not the mag power cord). I wait about 10 to 15 seconds.

    4.) Reconnect the Thunderbolt connector to the MBP.

    5.) Reconnect the Thunderbolt display's power cord to the UPS.

    6.) Fire up the computer, and everything seems to work, again.


    This has been my solution for quite some time. Hope this helps.

  • Barry Breen Level 1 Level 1



    Have you just tried to remove the All-on-One Thunderbolt connector from the computer (just disconnect it) and either run a Thunderbolt cable to the ouput Thunderbolt port on the LaCie drive (with LaCie plugged in to the Thunderbolt port of the TD. Or visa versa (run the Thunderbolt cable from computer to LaCie and run a cable from LaCie to TD Thunderbolt Port.


    If this solves the problem, there won't be any other connects, disconnects or re-start, sleep, or start up issues. Yes, it does required an extra Thunderbolt cable, but if it works for you, all inconvenience is resolved. I had the same problem which you are experiencing.


    Of course, the source of our difficulties is different, but I never had an issue with the TD again (and eventually replaced it, and all works fine now).


    You should not have to implement ANY special connect, disconnect, start-up, re-start procedures once working properly.


    Good luck.



  • zedkay Level 1 Level 1



    Thanks for your feedback. But, I don't have another Thunderbolt cable to try your approach. Since I don't disconnect my MBP that often, it's not that much trouble to go through my routine. Although, it is annoying when I do have to do it.


    BTW, I forgot to mention in my original post that my solution worked for me in Lion, and works in Mountain Lion.




  • zedkay Level 1 Level 1



    Well, I just now had to do a restart. After doing so, the problem of the Thunderbolt display not recognizing USB connections reared its ugly head. So, I did my routine,  see earlier post Oct 15, 2012 6:42 AM.


    This time it DID NOT work. I had to do an additional step. After the sytem rebooted, I disconnected the keyboard USB cable from the back of the Thunderbolt display. Then, reconnect it. Then, the USB devices were recognized.



  • lselvagn Level 1 Level 1

    I have had a lot of problems with the USB ports on the thunderbolt display working at all. At first, I could just unplug the keyboard (or whatever wasn't working) and just plug it back in and it would be fixed. Now, the ports don't work at all.


    I simply unplugged the thunderbolt cable from the MBP and then plugged it back in, and all my ports work again. I don't know how long this solution will last, but at least it worked.

  • clintonfrombirmingham Level 7 Level 7
    Mac OS X

    You really should have the display diagnosed by Apple - mine works just as it's designed to work and I've never had to unplug the Thunderbolt cable from my MacBook Pro to get my ATD USB ports to work. I use all three of them - one for a USB keyboard, one for a USB modem and one for a USB hard drive.


    Take your MBP and your TB display into your local Apple Store and show them the problem. Have them repair it - you shouldn't have to live without the functionality that you paid for.



  • Barbara Passman3 Level 2 Level 2

    I have had different issues from what y'all write but seem Thunderbolt and USB related .Apple tech is working with me and from something an engineer asked I am sure they also think my issue is the USB on the TBdisplay.

    My new MBP retina  when I connedt to the TBDisplay will not wake up IF the computer is asleep when I connect it. Recently a few more problems.

    From something Apple tech asked me  I wonder if the issue may be outdated drivers for  our USB devices

    My Logitech mouse and  belkin USB hub, both connected to rear ports on TBDisplay, are several years old


    So, yes, I,too think there are issues with USB on the new displays but maybe it is simply drivers and many of us using older devices?

    Those of you reporting issues with USB peripherals, are these brand new peripherals or items you have been using for ? a year  ? more than a year?

    just curious

  • Barry Breen Level 1 Level 1



    Have you tried my workaround? (not as a permanent solution, but to narrow the problem).


    I spent many many hours on the phone with technical support and engineering at the highest levels troubleshootingh mine (so I'm just trying to save you a little aggravation). If you have, or if you can pop for a Thunderbolt cable and just unplug the all-in-one Thunderbolt cable that goes from the display to the computer (leave power plugged in from display), and then plug the extra cable between the TD Thunderbolt port and a computer Thunderbolt port, you can see if it fixes the problem (and, therefore is a display/all-in-one cable issue). At that point if it fixes the problems then replacement or repair of the TD is the solution.


    This issue manifests itself in many, many different ways (from USB issues to unwaking display in different scenarios). Your issue could well be caused by the same as many of ours which have now been resolved via repaired or replaced TDs.


    Remember that the Thunderbolt signals which come through the All-in-One Thunderbolt display cable ultimately drive a hub affecting USB, Firewire, and Ethernet ports on the TD.


    The techs at Apple were somewhat clueless as to resolution of this because of the variations of conditions when it occurs (which really have nothing to do with the situation---all boiled down to the fact that signals were not correct getting to the TD via the All-in-One Thunderbolt cable.


    Now, there is also a USB issue regarding USB-3 which has nothing to do with the display, and that is for another thread, but Apple has written about that quite well.


    I hope this is of some help to you.



  • Barbara Passman3 Level 2 Level 2

    Thanks for the good directions but my problems seems to be the USB issue

    I have to test further but so far, removing USB (USB 2) items from the TBDisplayseems to have solved my issue

    The issue is not the Display components of the monitor.

  • Barry Breen Level 1 Level 1

    Barbara, I don't mean to question any of what you describe, as one of the symptoms (with what I previously described) is inoperative USB ports on the display. For instance, even when it appears the display works (video), the cursor for my mouse, and my external keyboard, would not respond.


    One way for you to tell if you have the similar problem to others like myself is to test the audio. For example, if you cause sound to be emitted from the system, does it come from the external display or from the computer? If from the computer, that is the same issue I had. Same with built in camera. If you turn on the camera, say with facetime application, etc., the computer camera will come on instead of the display camera. Again, this is caused by loss of USB function (which I had). All of these things were related to the "non-video" display functions.


    I'm not very technical so it's difficult for me to describe, but because of the many things that don't work with this display electronics or cable issue, it really fools people into thinking one thing is wrong when it is really another. And, it does not behave precisely the same way every time. Sometimes you can do things and it appears it is fixed (and you think you have solved it).


    Sorry I can't be of more assistance. Although my problem was solved, and finally I had to have a new display, it was not Apple who resolved it. This is a very strange thing to troubleshoot over the phone for them.


    Best regards, and I hope you do get it all resloved. Sounds like your dedicated to its resolution.



  • TheMatador Level 1 Level 1

    The solution I found was to press some keys on the keyboard BEFORE plugging in the TB cable.  Seems like this wakes up the USB port or something.


    When I first got the new TB display, my USB Apple keyboard did not work when I plugged it into my Retina MBP for the first time each morning, but the FW800 HDD was recognised.  If I unplugged and then re-plugged the TB cable it would recognise the keyboard.


    Not as bad as I first thought but still a bit crap really, come one Apple, sort your QC out!

  • Barry Breen Level 1 Level 1

    You may well have the same problem as several of us have had with the Thunderbolt display. It turned out to be a hardware issue which manifested itself in any number of scenarios, of which yours in one. You should not have to press any keys in any specific order. Your display should work when it is plugged into the computer, and if it does not, there is obviously a problem. Apple replaced my TB as I proved a hardware problem with a work around which is within this thread if you follow it from the beginning. NOTE: I am referring to the failure of the display to recognize items plugged into the TB display ports (i.e. keyboard, etc.). When this occurs you will find that neither the sound or camera is coming from the display (it is coming from the computer instead).


    Now, there is a USB issue, but that is well documented by Apple in setting up the COMPUTER USB 3 ports (no reference to failure to recognize the USB 2 ports on the Thunderbolt display.


    Any weird plugging or unplugging cables or the pressing of keys to gett display to work properly has been identified to be a display hardware issue (either all-in-one thunderbolt portion of the display cable or display electronics leading to the cable function).


    If you can get the display port functions to properly work via plugging in a spare Thunderbolt cable between the display Thunderbolt port and one of the computer Thunderbolt ports (AND unplug the Thunderbolt All-in-One cable from the computer but leave power plugged into computer), then you have a display with the hardware problem.


    I hope this is of some help. Good luck with resolving your issue.



  • TheMatador Level 1 Level 1

    Thanks Barry - I started reading the whole thread from the beginning but to be honest I lost the will after about page 3


    The display part seems to work fine and works as soon as its plugged in, its just the USB devices that seem to need the work around.  I will check out the camera and sound thing tomorrow though.


    As a company its a massive hassle to have to take the display back to Apple, - instead we've just stopped buying Apple stuff and have switched to 27" Dell Ultrasharps.  Half the price with same resolution (though with antiglare) and every connector under the sun which is better for people hot-desking or who don't have Macs.

  • Barry Breen Level 1 Level 1

    Yes, the video portion seems to work fine. That's the strange part of the issue (it's the port and recognition items that seem to drive folks bonkers because the video is there). I have a MBP-Retina with all (768GB of solid state and 16GB of RAM with the i7); I'm really loving it due to the unbelievable speeds. Best to you.

  • ElenaH Level 1 Level 1

    I had this issue as well, and the Genius Bar seems to have solved it by swapping out my Apple keyboard.  Fingers crossed that the fix keeps working, but so far so good.

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