Best Flash Drive for MacBook Air & MacBook Pro (2022)

The days of floppy disks are long past, and while CD-Roms are still around very few people use them for anything besides the occasional mixtape or digital photo album.

As we race ahead into the era of cloud storage, it’s worth keeping an eye on our friend — the USB Flash Drive, which has by no means expired.

Flash drives are reliable even when the Internet is down, files are too large to upload, or when you can’t remember your password. Plus, they’re easily shared among other people and can be used to distribute large amounts of information as well or store the final version of a project for later reference.

So whether you want a place to keep your digital movie collections, the latest year’s worth of schoolwork, or all the material for a particular client, a thumb drive is a versatile and inexpensive solution to your problem.

In this buying guide, we’ll help you choose the best flash drive that works with your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. In addition, you’ll learn tips and tricks on how to keep the drive in good shape.

Quick Summary

  • Want to be on the cutting edge and enjoy using USB Type-C? Go for SanDisk offers 256GB Ultra Dual USB-C Drive, which contains plenty of storage while allowing you to use a newer MacBook without dongles.
  • If you’re looking for as much space as you can get at great value and reliability, the PNY Turbo 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive will have you covered with a sleek design and an expansive 256 GB of storage.
  • Just need something that will last a while and have enough space for your old photos and videos? The Samsung BAR Plus 64GB is durable and it includes a keychain attachment so you can’t lose the drive anytime soon.

Who Should Get This

USBs are almost completely universal devices, so you don’t have to worry about which ones will or won’t work with your computer unless you have the newer MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, which has no USB-A slots at all!

In that case, you’ll need a USB-C hub or docking station in order to use most flash drives, or you can purchase a specialty USB-C model.

Beyond that, almost everyone can benefit from having a USB drive on hand. They work on both Macs and PCs without reformatting so file transfer and backup are very easy.

You can keep any type of file on them, and you’ll doubtless need one soon in the future to save something large or pass a file to a friend.

However, for those who’ve been used to living “in the cloud” (aka, using cloud storage or services for all kinds of files), you probably won’t need a physical disk drive at all.

Best USB Flash Drive for MacBook: Top Picks in 2022

Kindly note that all the products recommended below are chosen based on the criteria above (plus our own personal preferences). They are, however, by no means ranked in this order.

1. SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C

Hate dongles and adapters but using the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with only type-C ports available? This flash drive from SanDisk has you covered.

The progressive design is made for the future and uses USB-C, so you can copy, read, and store files even faster than USB-A 3.0 without ever needing a middleman for your laptop.

Pros:

  • Available from a range of 32 GB all the way up to 256 GB, this USB-C drive is ready to work with your modern MacBook.
  • The Type-C connection is cutting edge and allows faster file transfer than legacy models.

Cons:

  • Not all old MacBooks have USB-C ports, so you may be able to use the drive with your main MacBook but not with other computers.

2. PNY Turbo Attache 3 USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Need space in epic proportions? PNY offers a 256GB flash drive that will have you covered for quite a while. With a sleek sliding design and transfer speeds 10 times faster than with USB 2.0, you’ll be able to utilize that space quickly and efficiently.

Plus, PNY has a great electronics reputation isn’t expected to fail anytime soon.

Pros:

  • Sliding cover is attached and cannot be lost, securely covering the electronics from the elements.
  • Reading and writing speeds are much faster than on a USB 2.0 model, and the drive has enough space to store thousands of songs or most any other file type.

Cons:

  • Need a USB converter to work with latest MacBooks.
  • Does not include an activity indicator light.

3. Samsung BAR Plus USB 3.1 Flash Drive Titan Gray

For an all-around winner, the Samsung BAR Plus drive hits all the important points. It’s extremely damage resistant, easily attaches to a keychain so you can keep track of it, and the slim design leaves plenty of space for peripherals in other ports of your MacBook.

The 64 GB size is more than sufficient for a casual user.

Pros:

  • Slim design is durable — waterproof, shock-proof, and magnet proof- your data will be safe no matter what.
  • The built-in key ring makes it hard to lose, and the 64 GB of space gives you plenty of options when it comes to what data you want to store- from movies to Word documents.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work with MacBooks with type-C ports only, unless you have a converter.

Useful Tips

A USB flash drive is more than a place to store files. There are tons of fun things you can do with it, as demonstrated in this article from Gizmodo that shows you 10 cool ways to use a flash drive such as speeding up your computer, applying for a job, or making new connections, etc.

Nevertheless, Apple also curated a list of commonly asked questions about connecting USB devices to a Mac.

If you’re out of luck when it comes to USB-A ports, Apple has you covered with their USB-C to USB-A dongle (see on Amazon). This means you’ll be able to use any standard flash drives you have because the new USB-C port on your computer will be converted to the legacy version for a perfect fit.

Buying a Flash Drive for MacBook: What to Consider

Capacity

When you’re storing files, space is everything. Especially since thumb drives aren’t expandable, you’ll want to pick one big enough to encompass your needs for quite a while.

Alternatively, if you like to keep each project separate, buy many small flash drives so you don’t have an excess of space that you don’t end up utilizing.

Type

These days, USBs are coming in more and more varieties. The classic USB-A actually has two variations- 2.0 and 3.0, and you’ll want to get a 3.0 model whenever possible since at this point 2.0 is fairly outdated though widely available.

You can also step it up a notch by going for USB-C, which has the new reversible design and doesn’t look anything like you would expect. It’ll be faster and more efficient, but only newer MacBooks have the correct port to use it.

Size

Do you lose things easily if they’re too small, or would you prefer something that fits in your wallet? USB drives can be as small as one joint of your finger or include keyrings or other attachments that make them easier to keep track of.

The size is also relevant when inserting it into your computer — if your USB ports are close together, especially if you already use them regularly, a small flash drive will make sure the other accessories don’t get pushed out in the process.

Final Words

You can’t go wrong with a flash drive. From backing up your important files to storing extra video games, they’re extremely versatile and reliable. Flash drives can be used for years, and you’re never really done with one unless it becomes corrupted or lost.

What do you use your flash drives for the most? Leave a comment and let us know!

About Lorena
Lorena holds a 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip. Her role involves editorial management from writing to editing and ensuring that the articles are informative, useful, and relevant to readers who are new to Mac.

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  • Joni K.

    Hi Lorena,
    Thank you for this article. I am still a little lost. I have a MacBook Pro , Retina Mid 2012. I don’t even know what kind of USB’s I have on here. What I need to do is backup my photos so I can then delete them from my laptop. I do need to be able to go in and view them for clarity etc. and decide what to save and delete the rest. So if I buy a flash drive that will backup all my photos, can I then plug it in or not to view in the future? I am so not a tech, sorry. LOL. Also for my 2012 MacBook, what do you suggest I buy as a flash drive? I would get one large enough, not sure exactly how many photos I have but they take up 92GB in my storage now. YIKES!! However, I will not keep all of them once I have time to go through them on the flash drive. I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you, Joni

    Reply
    • MPS Team

      Your mid-2012 MacBook Pro comes with USB 3 ports.
      If your goal is to back up the photos, we’d recommend you get an external drive because it’s more reliable than a flash drive and has more storage.
      As long as you format the drive to be a macOS-compatible file system, you should have no problem viewing them in the future.

      Reply
  • Dorenda

    Thanks for the clear and excellent info!

    Reply
  • Mac User

    No photos show up when looking at this on a MacBook Air!

    Reply
    • BoLee

      Do you have the M1 Air? I do too! I have a Samsung one and it seems to disconnect or not read it correctly. If I plug it into my MBP 16, it’s completely fine. It has to do with Mac Silicon if yours is M1.

      Reply
    • Bette

      I would like to see pictures as well!

      Reply