How to Connect a Laptop to a TV via HDMI

The easy way to increase the screen size of your laptop

What to Know

  • Connect your laptop to your TV quickly by connecting one end of the HDMI cable to your TV and the other to your computer.
  • Make sure to change your HDMI-In source on your TV to match the HDMI port you use.
  • You may need a specific HDMI adaptor for your laptop model.

This article explains how to hook up a laptop to a TV using HDMI and, when needed, an HDMI adaptor.

How to Connect Laptop to TV With HDMI Cable

Connecting your Windows or Mac laptop to your TV via HDMI is fairly straightforward and should hopefully only take a few minutes to complete.

  1. Plug one end of the HDMI cable into your laptop’s HDMI port.

    If your laptop doesn’t have an HDMI port, you will need an HDMI adaptor. The exact type will vary depending on your laptop’s model. A docking station or through hub with an HDMI port can also be used.

  2. Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to your TV set. Make sure to remember which port you use for your laptop to TV HDMI connection.

  3. Using your TV’s remote, change your media source until you get to the HDMI port that you plugged the HDMI cable into.

    The name of the button will vary by TV model but it’s essentially the same one that you use to switch between regular TV channels, your DVD player, and your video game console if you have one.

  4. Your laptop should automatically detect the connection and begin mirroring itself on your TV.

How to Switch From Mirroring to Extending

The default setting for a laptop to TV HDMI connection is to have your laptop’s screen be mirrored on the television. This basically just means that whatever you see on your laptop’s screen will be shown on your TV’s screen simultaneously.

An alternative setting is to have your TV act as a kind of extension or second screen which you can control from your laptop. This can allow you to open files or apps privately on your laptop and show select media to others on the TV screen.

To make this change on a Mac, open the Apple menu in the top-left corner and click System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement.

To switch from Mirror to Extend on a Windows 10 laptop, open the Action Center by clicking on the square icon in the lower-right corner or by swiping in from the right side of the screen on a touch-enabled device such as a Surface Pro. Click Project to view your TV display options.

You can change your display preferences as often as you like.

Do You Need an HDMI Adaptor?

If your laptop doesn’t have an HDMI port, and most don’t, you’ll need to use an HDMI adaptor. Your laptop may have actually come with one when you got it but you don’t need to worry if it didn’t as HDMI adaptors are relatively cheap and are very easy to find in both online and traditional electronic stores.

Microsoft Surface USB-C to Display Port Adaptor

The following port types can be used to connect a laptop to a TV via HDMI with an appropriate adaptor:

Make sure to check your laptop’s manual or support page to confirm which sort of adaptor you need before buying one. A USB-C to HDMI adaptor won’t work if you require a Micro-HDMI to HDMI adaptor (those connectors are different sizes).

A USB hub or a docking station with an HDMI port can be a good investment as they usually feature a variety of other ports as well which can be used for connecting to a wide range of devices.

Laptop-to-TV HDMI Troubleshooting

Having trouble getting the image or sound to play through your TV from your laptop? Here are some quick solutions worth trying.

  • Restart your laptop: Sometimes restarting your laptop with the HDMI cable connected can force its display to switch to the TV screen.
  • Check the HDMI port on your TV: HDMI ports on TVs can often be very tight and it’s easy to think that the cable has been plugged in when in fact the connection is barely being made. Firmly and carefully check to make sure that the cable is plugged in as far as it will go.
  • Check the HDMI port on your laptop: Some laptops, such as some Surface Pro models, have curved edges which can make the HDMI adaptors disconnect. Make sure all the edges of the port are sealed and that the cable isn’t being pulled out.
  • Check the HDMI cable for damage: It’s possible that your HDMI cable may have been damaged while being stored or moved.
  • Install the latest operating system and firmware updates: Whether you own a Mac or a Windows laptop, downloading the latest updates can often fix a lot of tech issues.
  • Double-check the HDMI source: Your TV may be trying to read from the wrong HDMI port. Browse through all of your media sources on your TV with your remote.
  • Switch HDMI ports: If you think an HDMI port may be damaged, try using a port that’s proven to work such as the one connected to your Xbox or Blu-ray player. 
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