Dongles work in various ways by attaching a port of a computer to external hardware, increasing the computer's functionality. External hardware commonly connected by means of a dongle includes televisions, Wi-Fi adapters and other computers. Originally, dongles worked by attaching to cords through the parallel printer port; however, most dongles connect through USB ports and include both wired and wireless devices.
Some dongles work as a key that unlocks certain software. Manufacturers provided the dongle to prevent pirating of their product or to ensure the owner only operated it on one computer at a time. However, a more common use is as an adapter temporarily connecting a device to a computer. The use of a dongle allows a computer with a limited number of ports to connect to a wide variety of other devices. A dongle provides wireless or Bluetooth capabilities to devices that do not have built-in adapters.
Use of a dongle allows a gamer to attach controllers from a video game console to his computer. One end of the adapter fits into the USB adapter while the other accepts the game controller plug. As with other types of dongles, there are connections and electronic hardware that ensure the controller functions with the computer just as it does with the original console.