How to Connect Computer Peripherals

by Chris Hoke

The term computer is usually used to refer to your monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers and the case that houses all of your system components. This is a misnomer: Your computer is really only the case that houses the system components and everything else is considered a "peripheral." Generally, computer peripherals can only fit into their appropriate ports on the back of the computer one way without forcing them. The exceptions to this are the keyboard and mouse peripherals and the speaker cable, but in both of these cases the ports and plugs are typically color-coded.

Set the keyboard directly in front of where you'll be working and set the mouse to the right if you are right-handed or to the left if you are left-handed. Run the keyboard and mouse cables to the back of the computer and plug them into the PS/2 ports, with the keyboard going into the left port and the mouse going into the right port. If the ports are placed vertically, there will be a keyboard icon and a mouse icon next to each port. If the keyboard and/or mouse are USB, plug them into the USB ports.

Set the monitor on your desk in front of the keyboard and plug the power cable into an electrical outlet. Plug the monitor cable into your video output port located on the back of your video card. If you have an integrated video card (the video output chip is part of the motherboard), then the video port will be located below the USB and PS/2 ports.

Plug the network cable end into the jack on the back of your network card, which should be located below your video card. The network cable end looks like a wide telephone line end, and the network port resembles a wide phone jack. The network cable end can only be inserted one way; with the push-to-release tab side going into the same side as the notch on the network jack.

Plug the phone line into your modem, if necessary. The modem will have two ports that both fit the phone cable, but one will be marked "PHONE" and one will be marked "LINE." You want to plug the phone line into the "LINE" port. The "PHONE" port enables you to connect a phone into your computer, which you can use when not using the modem to connect to the Internet. If you have an external modem instead of an internal unit, you can plug the external modem cable into the serial port on your computer. The serial port is a port with nine exposed pins in a trapezoidal pattern.

Plug your printer into a free USB port or, if your printer connects via a parallel plug, insert the parallel plug into the parallel port. The parallel port is a 25-pin trapezoidal plug that will be located near the PS/2 ports and serial port.

Plug your speakers' power cable into an electrical outlet and plug the sound cable into the speaker-out port on the back of your sound card. There will be up to three sound ports on the back of the sound card. These ports are commonly color coded, with the speaker-out port being green, the headphone or line-out port being orange or yellow, and the microphone input port being pink.

Plug your webcam, camera, external storage device and other assorted USB-interface peripherals into the USB ports, which will likely be located in several places on the exterior of your computer. USB ports can handle a wide variety of devices and are small and rectangular. The plug for a USB device is flat and rectangular and is about 12 millimeters in length. USB plugs can only be inserted into a USB port one way, so if it can't be inserted in one direction, flip the plug over and try again.

About the Author

Chris Hoke is a freelance writer, blogger and musician living in the San Francisco bay area. He began writing professionally in 2005 and his articles regularly appear on and

More Articles

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera motherboard image by Valentin Mosichev from