Power and the international Mac

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Internationalist Paul Carpenter asks a question commonly posed by modern border-crossers. He writes:

I’m a teacher who decided to take off and teach internationally; thus I had to forfeit the beloved MacBook issued by my previous school. I’m now in Indonesia and considering purchasing a Mac mini or a MacBook. If I travel back and forth to the US and Indonesia (and elsewhere), would I be able to buy a power cord for 120V American-style outlets and a power cord for 220V Indonesian style outlets and just use the appropriate one in each country? Or is the power processing within computers customized based on where they are sold?

This one routinely confuses people who take their Macs abroad. Macs and their power adapters are—and have been for as long as I can remember—built to support 110 – 240 Volts. So, out of the box, you can jack your Mac mini or MacBook into just about any outlet you come across without fear of melting the thing. Where the country-of-purchase makes a difference is in the kind of plug that appears at the end of that power adapter. And that’s what you need to change.

Apple sells the $39 Apple World Travel Adapter Kit. This contains six power adapters that slip on to a MagSafe power adapter and older USB iPhone and iPod power adapters. If you don’t want to go the Apple route, you can find power adapters that allow you to convert the power plug from Country X to a plug that fits the outlets in Country Y. These aren’t converters. They're simply adapters to change Plug A to Plug B because, again, the Mac can handle voltages from around the world.

Note, however, that if you also take peripherals along with you that require power, you'll want to examine them very carefully to see if they're as world savvy as your Mac. If not, purchase a transformer appropriate for your destination.

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