How to Connect a MacBook to Your TV.
If you need to connect your MacBook to your TV, you have several options. Most of them are quick and easy to complete, although in some cases you may need to work a little.
It depends on the type of MacBook you have, the TV, and sometimes the devices connected to the TV. We’ll walk you through the key things you need to know and the most effective ways to bring your MacBook to the big screen.
Which MacBook Do You Have?
Apple has a habit of drastically changing the available ports on its MacBooks. If you have an older pre-2016 MacBook, you will find plenty of ports on the machine. This includes a standard HDMI port.
If you have a 2021 MacBook Pro 14 or 16 or newer, you will also find an HDMI port on your computer. If you have a MacBook from those years, or even a 2021 MacBook Pro 13 Air, you’ll only find two or four USB-C ports with Thunderbolt support. Thunderbolt ports are universal but cannot be directly connected to HDMI.
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models between 2008 and 2010 had mini DisplayPort video output. You will need a mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter if you want to connect to most TVs through this port.
If you have a MacBook model without an HDMI port, you will have to look elsewhere when connecting to an external display. For most people, this means buying keys.
Get an HDMI or DisplayPort Adapter
If you’re in the boat of a Thunderbolt 3-only MacBook, you’ll have to invest in an adapter to get your MacBook connected to HDMI or DisplayPort. In most cases, HDMI is the right choice, since all flat screen TVs support HDMI. DisplayPort is primarily used on computer monitors, although some widescreen displays also have them.
You can buy an HDMI adapter that only adds HDMI, or you can get this feature as part of a multifunctional dock. While a docking station costs a lot more than a simple HDMI adapter, it’s a better buy in the long run as it gives you access to the many connections you’ll eventually need.
Pay close attention to the resolution and refresh rate supported by this HDMI adapter. This is especially important when connecting to a 4K TV since many adapters only support 24Hz or 30Hz at these resolutions. While this is probably fine for slideshows or playing most video content, it’s very choppy for a desktop computer.
Get the Right Cable
Now that your MacBook is properly connected to your TV, we need a cable to bridge the gap. If you bought an HDMI adapter, use an HDMI cable.
While you may hear a lot of advice about which HDMI cable is the “right” one to buy, the truth is that any HDMI cable will work just fine. However, to use a 4K display at 60Hz, you will need an HDMI 2.0 cable or later. If you are using an old HDMI 1.4b cable, you will be limited to 30Hz at 4K resolution.
If you need to connect your MacBook to a TV that’s far away, why not consider buying a long HDMI cable? HDMI cables can be up to 65 feet (20 m) long before a powered signal repeater is required. If you’re giving a presentation or otherwise want to connect to a TV far away, one of these cables is much easier than a wireless connection. Not to mention much more reliable!
Consider purchasing a roll of duct tape from online retailers like Amazon to secure the cable if this is a temporary installation. If this is an ongoing need, professional cable installation is a good idea.
Check Your TV’s Inputs
Now that we’ve got your MacBook connected to a TV and sorted out the cable, how do we connect it to the TV?
On the back of the TV, you should see a set of HDMI ports.
1- If there is an open port, all you have to do is plug one end of the HDMI cable into an available video input. If all ports are busy, you can disable one of them, but in some cases this is not necessary.
2 – If your TV does not have enough HDMI ports, you can use an HDMI switch. This is a device with multiple HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. You can use them to increase the number of HDMI ports on your TV.
You may also notice VGA or DVI connections on some TV models. We do not recommend that you use these connections unless you already have the correct cables and adapters and cannot use HDMI for any reason.
If a wired connection doesn’t work for you, there’s only a wireless connection.
AirPlay is Apple’s proprietary wireless streaming technology. You can stream your macOS desktop (and iPhone or iPad) to any device that supports acting as an AirPlay receiver. For TVs, this means streaming to an Apple TV connected to the TV via HDMI.
Since Apple doesn’t make a TV (yet), this is a pretty limited option. Sure, you can carry your Apple TV around if you want to wirelessly mirror your screen to any HDMI-enabled TV, but that’s not the most practical solution. If you’re going to use Airplay at home, you might want to consider getting an Apple TV.
The good news is that some smart TVs (such as Samsung and Sony) now support Apple Airplay 2, the latest version of the technology at the time of writing. Some Roku device models also support AirPlay. You will need to find out if your specific TV model or Roku Airplay is supported or not. Another problem with using AirPlay on the go is that both devices must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
Setting up AirPlay for the first time
Before you can use AirPlay for the first time, you must make sure the feature is enabled. Click the Apple menu icon in the top left corner of your macOS desktop.
Then go to System Preferences > Displays.
In the Add Display drop-down menu, you should see an Apple TV or other AirPlay device listed.
When adding an AirPlay display for the first time, you may need to enter a code that will be displayed on the TV for authentication.
On older versions of macOS, you may also see an AirPlay icon in the menu bar. If so, you can click on it to turn the AirPlay display on or off.
Cast Content to a Chromecast
Since there are so few AirPlay devices out in the wild, you might want to consider the Google Chromecast instead. Many smart TVs and Android TVs have Chromecast built-in. The only problem is that Apple MacBooks don’t natively support mirroring their screens to Chromecast devices.
You can cast content from Google services like YouTube to Chromecast from Mac, but it’s not the same as mirroring your Mac screen with AirPlay.
The only way out is to use third party apps like AirBeam TV. The Mac App Store has many different options at different prices, so take your time and choose the one that suits your needs.
Mirrored or Extended Display?
When you connect an external display, such as a TV, to your MacBook, you can use it as a mirror or extended display. When mirroring the screen, your MacBook display and TV screen show the same image.
This is useful when the TV will not be visible to you during the presentation, but there are some caveats here. Modern TVs have an aspect ratio of 16×9, while MacBooks have a 16×10 aspect ratio. They also have different resolutions. If the TV mirrors your Mac display, it will be scaled to fit the screen, which your audience won’t like. You have to make the TV your primary display, and the MacBook’s screen will mirror it instead. Now the image of the MacBook will be far from perfect, but you are the only one who will see it.
If you use an external display as an extended display (which should be the default), it will have a separate desktop. You can move windows to it and use it as a separate screen.
Adjusting the Resolution and Refresh Rate
Usually, macOS correctly detects your TV’s resolution and refresh rate, so you don’t have to do anything. Unfortunately, sometimes it is wrong, in which case you will have to fix the setting manually.
First, select the Apple menu icon in the top left corner of your macOS desktop. Then choose System Preferences > Displays > Display Preferences.
Select your TV from the left list of connected displays. Then, in the “Resolution” section, select “Scaled” to see the list of permissions.
Choose the right one for your TV. If it’s a 4k TV, the correct resolution is 3840×2160. If it’s a Full HD TV, the correct value is 1920 × 1080.
In the Refresh Rate section, select the correct number for your display. For the vast majority of displays, 60Hz is the best choice. However, your adapters, cables, and even older MacBooks may only support 30Hz at 4K resolution. You can safely use a 4K TV with a resolution of 1920×1080 and increase the refresh rate. This will make the image a little blurry, but improve the smoothness of the movement.
Tweaking Your TV Settings
We’ve mostly talked about changing your MacBook’s settings to get the best picture on your TV, but there are some things you might want to change on your TV as well.
Some TVs have an overscan function, in which part of the frame is not visible. When connected to a computer, this is not what you want, so check your TV’s instruction manual. There should be a setting to make the image fit the screen size without overflowing.
Your TV may also have a PC mode or something similar that removes post-processing effects that affect sharpness, input lag, and motion smoothing. They can distract from using your MacBook with a TV, so it’s best to turn off unnecessary effects.
Sending Audio to Your TV
Even if you’re connected to an external display, such as a TV, you can still play audio through your MacBook’s built-in speakers. You can also use speakers or headphones connected to the headphone jack. The same goes for Bluetooth audio, whether it’s a wireless speaker or headphones like the AirPods Max.
However, if you’re connected to a TV via HDMI, you can easily send audio to the TV and receive audio from the display. You must select the TV as the audio output device.
With an HDMI connection connected and the screen displaying correctly, simply click the Control Center button in the upper right corner of your macOS desktop. Then select the right arrow next to Sound.
Now just select your HDMI audio device from the menu.
The sound should now switch to the TV speakers.
Using the TV With the Lid Closed
In some cases, you may not want your MacBook screen to be visible when you connect your Mac to a TV. For example, you can slide it under the TV and use the large display as the main one.
The good news is that you don’t have to do anything special to enable this feature. As long as you have an external mouse and keyboard connected, as well as the TV itself, you can close the lid and your MacBook will switch to the external display as the only primary display.
Hey! I’m on TV!
As we’ve seen, connecting your MacBook to a TV is basically no different than connecting it to an external PC monitor. While a TV isn’t usually a great desktop display, it’s perfect for watching movies or giving presentations. If you’re a Mac gamer, it might also be a good idea to download Apple Arcade, plug in a controller, and spend some time just relaxing instead of working. This guide is not finished, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
How to Connect a MacBook to Your TV
How to Connect a MacBook to Your TV