Even though it is possible to connect a computer to a TV wirelessly, a standard HDMI cable is the most reliable and effective way to share a computer’s screen with a TV. Simply switch the TV’s input to the correct HDMI channel, plug one end of the cable into your computer, and the other into the back of your TV.
Because HDMI transmits both video and audio, you can listen to whatever is playing on your laptop while you watch it on the TV.
Of course, not everything can be expected to go according to plan. Some potential snares and how to avoid them have been outlined below. Our advice on using a television set as a display can be found in a separate article.
How to connect a PC laptop to a TV
Either a wired or wireless connection can be used to link a laptop to a TV.
Connect your laptop to a TV with an HDMI cable
HDMI is the simplest cable to use when linking a laptop to a TV. To do this, you’ll need an HDMI cable, which you can plug into your laptop and then into your TV.
There will be no manual input required; the TV will receive the sound and image automatically. If your laptop has an HDMI port, you can take advantage of this method. A USB-C to HDMI adapter is required if it does not.
Connect your laptop to a TV using Chromecast
To avoid wires, you can use Chromecast to cast content from your laptop to the TV wirelessly.
Chromecast Step 1: Connect the power cord.
Then, connect the Chromecast to your TV using an available HDMI port.
Third, connect the Chromecast to a power source.
The fourth step is to get the Google Home app for your iPhone or Android device. The Chromecast setup process is as simple as installing the app, starting it, and following the on-screen prompts.
The fifth step is to launch Chrome on your laptop.
Select Cast from the menu that appears after you click the three dots in the top right.
You’ll see a list of compatible devices; select your TV from there. The screen from your laptop should now be visible on the TV.
How to connect a MacBook to a TV
Your MacBook can be connected to a TV either via a wired HDMI cable or wirelessly using an Apple TV.
Connect your MacBook to a TV with an HDMI cable
It is expected that a Mac laptop, like a Windows laptop, can be connected to a TV via HDMI. It is not uncommon to require an adapter to link the Mac’s Thunderbolt port to an HDMI source.
Then proceed by:
To access System Preferences on a Mac, follow these steps: 1.
Second, select Displays in the System Preferences pane.
3. Set the resolution to “Default” in the Display Resolution menu.
Then, select Sound after clicking the Back button at the top of the window.
5. From the list of available speakers, choose the ones connected to your TV.
Connect your MacBook to a TV using Apple TV
Step 1: Select System Preferences from the Apple menu.
2. Select Screens.
3. At the window’s bottom, to the right of AirPlay Display, select Apple TV from the resulting drop-down menu.
Eventually, your TV will display a four-digit code. Just type that into the AirPlay Device Password pop-up window and hit the OK button. The screen of the MacBook should now be visible on the television.
How to connect a laptop to a TV with an HDMI cable
You can connect your laptop to the TV in the quickest and most convenient way possible. An HDMI cable, which can be purchased on Amazon for under $10, is all that’s needed to complete the task. It’s ideal for streaming your favorite shows because an HDMI cable can handle both audio and high-definition video.
Both the laptop and the TV need to have an HDMI port for this to function. There’s a good chance they both have it if they aren’t extremely ancient (or contemporary). Then, connect the two gadgets using the HDMI cable while they are both powered on. Then, using the TV’s remote control, choose the correct HDMI input.
Some laptops only have a mini or micro HDMI port; if this is the case, you’ll need to use a different cable, which you can access using the links below. You can save money by purchasing an adapter instead if you already own a standard HDMI cable. Mini HDMI to HDMI adapters, as well as micro HDMI to HDMI adapters, are sold on these pages.
- Just plug an HDMI cable into the laptop and TV.
- Initiate the operation of both gadgets.
- You can change the TV’s input to the proper HDMI port using the remote.
It’s expected that the two gadgets will connect to one another without any manual intervention. If it doesn’t, make sure “TV” is selected in Settings > System > Display. The resolution can be changed to fit the specifications of your TV. After that, choose the “Duplicate” menu item by pressing the Windows and P keys simultaneously.
How to connect a laptop to a TV with a VGA cable
In most cases, a VGA port can be found on both an older laptop and TV. The specifications and retail price of a VGA cable are listed here for your perusal. VGA’s lower resolution video quality makes it inferior to HDMI. Additionally, it only handles the video signal, so an additional cable is required for the audio.
Then, using a VGA cable and a 3.5mm audio cable, link your laptop and TV. Then, using the remote control’s Input button (also known as Source or AV), choose the PC or RGB option. That settles the matter, period.
- A VGA cable can be used to link the laptop and the TV.
- Use a 3.5-millimeter audio cable to link the two gadgets together.
- Activate both of the gadgets.
- With the TV’s remote, you can switch to the PC or RGB input.
The two gadgets should automatically connect to one another. If it doesn’t, make sure “TV” is selected in Settings > System > Display. The picture quality can be customized to fit your television’s native resolution. When you’re finished, you can duplicate something by pressing the Windows key followed by the letter P.
What if my laptop and TV have different ports?
Say, for instance, your TV only has a VGA input and your laptop only has an HDMI input. Here, an HDMI to VGA converter is required for success. You can get one for yourself by clicking the button below for only $8 (their lowest price on Amazon).
In fact, once you have the converter, everything is very simple. Connect your laptop to your TV using the HDMI cable. Next, connect the converter to your device by plugging the other end of the VGA cable into it. Ultimately, you’ll use the TV’s remote to switch to the PC or RGB input.
- Connect the laptop to the TV via the HDMI cable.
- Connect the VGA cable to the TV.
- Simply connect the VGA cable to the converter and then the two screens.
- Start up the laptop and flip on the TV.
- The TV’s input can be set to PC or RGB using the remote.
There needs to be an automatic connection between the two gadgets. If it doesn’t, make sure “TV” is selected in Settings > System > Display. If the default resolution doesn’t work with your TV, you can change it. When you’re finished, you can duplicate something by pressing the Windows key followed by the letter P.
How to connect a laptop to a TV with USB-C
There are a couple of choices if your laptop has a USB-C port. A USB-C cable allows for direct connection to a TV, but this is only possible if your TV also has a USB-C port. Input your TV to the proper source by connecting the two devices with a USB-C cable. However, before purchasing a USB-C to USB-C cable, make sure that your devices’ USB-C ports support video.
You can also click the button below to purchase a USB-C to HDMI adapter. Connect your laptop to your TV via the USB-C cable, and your TV via the HDMI cable. Connect the two gadgets by inserting the other end of the HDMI cable into the adapter. The final step is to switch your TV to an HDMI input.
- Use a USB-C cable to link the two gadgets together. To avoid this, you can use a USB-C to HDMI adapter.
- Initiate the playback of media on the television and open up your laptop.
- Depending on the type of cable you’re using, you’ll need to change the TV’s input using the remote.
How to connect a laptop to a TV wirelessly
Wirelessly linking your laptop and TV is the way to go if you don’t want to deal with cables. The only thing you need is a media streaming device like a Roku Streaming Stick Plus or a Google Chromecast with Google TV. You can also use a Chromecast-enabled Android television.
The best option is probably a Google Chromecast device, which, at $35 (starting price), is not ridiculously expensive compared to alternatives like an HDMI cable.
Simply connecting the Chromecast to your TV is the first step. Because we already have an article that covers the installation process in detail, I won’t go into detail about it here. Once you’ve got everything set up, you can cast whatever’s on your Chrome tabs, your local videos and files, or your entire laptop desktop to the TV. Simply launch Chrome on your laptop, click the menu icon (three vertical dots) in the top-right corner, and choose the “Cast” option. If you have more than one Chromecast, you can cast to a specific device by selecting it from the “Sources” menu and then selecting the content you want to cast.
- Simply connect the Chromecast to your TV and follow the on-screen prompts to complete the setup.
- Chrome’s menu can be accessed by clicking the three vertical dots in the browser’s top right corner.
- From the “Sources” menu, pick the content you wish to share.
- Choose the Chromecast that will receive the stream.
Bonus tip: Use a USB flash drive
USB flash drives have largely replaced cables and specialized media streamers for occasional use of media such as viewing vacation photos or watching a movie on a large screen. The USB can then be plugged into the TV, and the files can be viewed by selecting the USB input on the TV. A USB port and the ability to play different file types are required for this to work on your TV. Not all televisions are capable of playing video files; some can only view still images.
- Copy media files (such as photos and videos) from your laptop to a USB drive.
- Just insert the USB drive into your TV’s USB port.
- Turn on the TV and navigate to the input menu where you can select the USB connection.
- Then, you can simply play the files by selecting them.
Why Should You Get HDMI Cables Instead?
The fact that it supports both audio and video and is widely adopted in the modern era makes it a clear frontrunner. Since most modern computers do not include a VGA port, it is more practical to purchase an HDMI cable if you frequently use a laptop. The HDMI cable also saves weight and space.
If you have one wire, you’re good to go. The HDMI cable transmits both video and audio at once, and it’s also smaller than the alternatives. Both audio signals from the sound card can be sent to the graphics card to be combined into a single digital stream, and this is also true for desktop computers.
In most cases, it will work fine. More options exist for connecting an HDMI source to a DVI display. You probably won’t need one because the vast majority of modern devices already have HDMI support rather than VGA.
The copy-protection signal you receive is of the highest quality. Some VGA-compatible PCs and displays can’t play high-definition media. Although video cards can be built with this capability in mind, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the rest of the hardware can achieve the same level of performance.
It’s more compact. The HDMI cable is much more compact and lightweight than its VGA counterpart. Being smaller, it’s better suited for portable electronics and trips.
It enhances coloration. While older computers can only handle 24-bit color depth, a 48-bit color system or more can be transmitted over an HDMI cable. A new graphics adapter that supports HDMI 1.3 or later will be required, though.
My computer doesn’t have an HDMI port
Full-size (or Type-A) HDMI ports, Mini HDMI ports, and Micro HDMI ports are all available. In most cases, the HDMI port on your computer or TV will be a full-size connection, as indicated by the red arrow in the image below. However, HDMI is not included in all PCs.
You can connect a newer model to your TV with a simple USB-C to HDMI cable if it has a USB-C port.
If you already have a standard HDMI cable, you can purchase an adaptor to convert the USB-C, full-size USB 3.0, DVI, and DisplayPort connections on your laptop to HDMI.
If you decide to go the USB Type-C route but find that your laptop’s single USB Type-C port is in use or needed for charging, you may want to look into purchasing a hub like this one, which provides additional USB Type-C ports as well as an HDMI port.
If your laptop lacks any of these up-to-date ports, you can always resort to using the VGA port to hook it up to the TV. Since video graphics arrays (VGA) do not support audio, you will need a cable with a 3.5mm audio jack, like this one.
My TV doesn’t have a spare HDMI port
Use an HDMI switch to convert a single HDMI input into several outputs if all available ports are in use. We recommend this low-cost Techole HDMI switch that has three HDMI outputs.
It has three HDMI IN ports and one HDMI OUT port for connecting to your TV and other HDMI-enabled devices. Using the top button (or a remote control, for some HDMI switches) you can toggle between inputs.
The HDMI cable isn’t long enough
You might need to get an extra-long HDMI cable if your television is mounted on the wall or is in some other inconvenient location. You can also get an angled HDMI extender if it’s up against a wall and out of reach.
There is no sound when I connect my laptop to my TV over HDMI
The inability to hear audio from an HDMI-connected computer on the TV could be due to a number of different issues. First, make sure the HDMI cable is inserted properly and possibly try using a different HDMI cable or port to rule out any problems with the connection itself.
Also, check the computer’s settings to make sure they’re all set up properly. Select Sounds from the context menu that appears when you right-click the volume icon in the Taskbar at the bottom of your Windows display. Choose the Playback menu item, and then make Digital Output or HDMI the default.
If you don’t see the options to disconnect or disable devices when you right-click here, you may need to enable them. Try updating your sound card drivers if you’re still having trouble hearing anything. You can either use an app like Driver Easy, which is incredibly user-friendly, or navigate straight to the website of your sound card manufacturer.
There is no picture when I connect my laptop to my TV over HDMI
No adjustments to the PC’s settings should be required for the picture to appear on the TV when the computer is connected via HDMI. But if it’s not displaying properly, try the following:
Achieved by pressing the Windows Key plus the letter P. A menu bar should appear, with options to “Laptop Screen Only,” “Duplicate,” “Extend,” and “Second Screen Only.” Duplicate or secondary screens are strongly suggested.
If this doesn’t work, right-click the Windows 10 desktop and select Display Settings.
If your laptop doesn’t show two screens (like in the image below), it hasn’t picked up your TV. It’s possible the faulty HDMI connection is to blame in this case; double-check its insertion and possibly try a different cable or another port.
If you get a second screen, go to Display Settings and look for the option to use multiple monitors. Choose between mirroring (duplicating) your laptop’s display, extending these displays (so you can show different content on each display), or displaying exclusively on the TV (typically screen number 2).
How to connect your laptop to a TV wirelessly
You can “cast” content from your computer to your TV with any number of devices that act as intermediaries. Screen mirroring is a common term that can be used interchangeably with app streaming, but there are some key differences between app streaming and mirroring.
It may be best to keep things as straightforward as possible when trying to connect your devices, as there are a wide variety of technologies and terms in use.
The Roku Express (reviewed) is a great device. It’s an inexpensive media streamer that can be connected to your TV via HDMI and loaded with apps for watching TV on demand and streaming movies. It’s similar to Google’s £30 Chromecast in that it lets you cast from a compatible device, but the interface is more intuitive.
You can also find solutions that are nothing more than wireless HDMI dongles, like this 4K dongle from Amazon, if you don’t need a media streaming box because, for example, you already have a smart TV and don’t need to add apps. There is no noticeable difference between this and using an HDMI cable to link the two devices; the only difference is that this method uses wireless technology instead of a cable.