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I am a newbie and would like to record my singing with a Shure SM58 and a Mac (MacBook Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015).

My question is: Can I plug the microphone directly to my Mac through an XLR-jack cable like this: XLR jack cable

Or do I need an XLR-USB signal adapter like Shure X2U (below)? enter image description here

Basically I am not quite clear about whether my Mac is capable of capturing the mic's signal directly or not.

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The gender of the first cable is wrong--it would need to be XLR female. But the signal you would get would be unusably quiet anyway. The raw output of a microphone is at a level called mic level, which is on the order of millivolts (it's the energy that can be generated from the sound waves bumping into the mic element--think trying to power a wind turbine by yelling at it).

To get to a usable level (line level), something in the signal chain between the mic and your computer needs to have a preamplifier (aka preamp). Given a normal XLR mic like your SM58, the simplest thing is just a basic audio interface, which is what the X2u is. It's not just converting XLR to USB (such a thing doesn't even really make sense on its own), it's actually a preamp, analog->digital converter, and audio interface in one package.

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The second one. Or an audio interface that has a mic preamp built in. The second item pictured is just a really small USB audio interface with a built in mic preamp. You can get bigger ones with more features, but the one in your picture looks like it will do the job.

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Either should work, although I've heard some reports of analogue adapters often bring wrongly wired.

The second option is a mini USB audio interface.

Take a look at the question: How necessary is an USB Audio Interface?

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