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Most computers have at least one Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports. You can use these ports to connect many different kinds of peripheral devices directly to your computer, including printers, cameras, keyboards, or joysticks.

This document explains how to connect a USB "key," "jump drive," or "flash drive" to your Mac or PC for use as an external storage device.

First, locate the USB port(s) on your computer.

A USB port is a rectangular opening about 1/2" wide and 1/4" high. It should have a symbol that looks like this next to it.

iMacs and other Mac destkops usually have USB ports on the back of the computer. Laptops have USB ports on the side. Most of the time, you will also find a port on the back of the keyboard.

On a PC, there may be a USB port on the front of your system unit, either in the open or concealed behind a flip-out panel, or there may be one or more USB ports on the back of the system unit.  On some computers, you will also find a port on the back of the keyboard.

If your computer's USB port is not in a convenient location, you may want to purchase an extension cable.

Next, install your jump drive.

No driver installation is required; just take the cap off the drive and plug the connector end into a USB port on your computer, and it's ready to use.

On a PC, the jump drive will be listed as a "removable disk" in your My Computer or Windows Explorer window.

On a Mac, the jump drive will be listed as a "removable disk" on your Desktop and in the Finder's sidebar.

This drive works like any other drive; you can drag-and-drop, copy, or save files just as you would with any other drive.

To remove a jump drive:

Before you remove a drive, be sure to close all the files stored on the drive and wait until the light on the drive is no longer blinking.  (A blinking light indicates that data is being written to the drive.)

On a PC, before you physically remove the drive, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the Safely Remove Hardware icon in your system tray.
  2. In the Safely Remove Hardware window, select your jump drive and click on the Stop button.
  3. In the Stop a Hardware Device window, select the drive again and click OK.
  4. Once the device's name disappears from the Safely Remove Hardware list, you can close the window and remove the drive from the computer.

On a Mac, before you physically remove the drive, first eject the drive by dragging its Desktop icon to the Trash or by clicking on the Eject icon in the Finder sidebar.

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 |  Last updated January 10, 2013

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