How to Connect a MacBook to a TV

Use a cable or AirPlay to show or extend your MacBook screen

What to Know

  • You can connect your MacBook computer to your TV using a USB-C or Thunderbolt-3 to HDMI or DVI adapter.
  • If you have a smart TV, you can also use AirPlay to mirror your MacBook screen or extend the screen and use the television as a second monitor.
  • Older model MacBooks may have a mini-Display port, but you can still use an adapter to connect your MacBook to your TV.

This article explains how to connect your MacBook computer to your TV, including using a cable to connect them or connecting wirelessly with AirPlay and a smart TV.

How Do I Connect My MacBook to My TV?

It's nice to be able to connect your MacBook computer to a television screen for streaming, gaming or to have a larger screen for work. If you have a smart TV, the easiest way to connect your MacBook to your TV is using AirPlay.

Before you start trying to connect your MacBook to your smart TV, make sure both are on the same network and powered on.

  1. On your Macbook, go to Settings > Displays.

    The Displays option on a MacBook.
  2. Select the dropdown for the option for AirPlay Display.

    The AirPlay Display dropdown menu.
  3. Choose the smart TV or device you want to use as a display for your MacBook.

    Selecting a TV for the AirPlay Display on a MacBook.
  4. Once the connection is made, you may have a small window appear on your smart TV. If you want to use your TV as a second display for your MacBook, select Gather Windows on your MacBook screen to pull all your windows together and extend your screen. You can then use your TV as if it were a second monitor.

    The Gather Windows option in a MacBook's Display Settings menu.
  5. If you want to mirror your MacBook screen to your smart TV, then select Arrangement on your Display Settings and choose Mirror Display.

    The Mirror Displays option in Display Settings on a MacBook.

When you're finished and want to disconnect the monitor, use the instructions above, and in Step 3, select Off.

Alternatively, you can click the Control Center on your menu bar, and select Screen Mirroring, then select the TV you want to mirror your screen to. Once the connection is complete, you can choose the option to mirror or extend your display. When you finish, open Screen Mirroring again and click the name of the TV you've connected to end the connection.

The Screen Mirroring option in the Control Center on a MacBook

Can I Plug a MacBook Into My TV?

If you have an older model TV or MacBook that doesn't have AirPlay capabilities, you can use a cable to connect to your MacBook. The type of cable you need depends on the model of MacBook you have and the connections on that computer.

You also may have to choose between using a cable that connects directly from your MacBook to your TV; for example, you may choose to use a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable. Or, you may choose to use an adapter that plugs into your MacBook and provides adaptive ports. For example, a Thunderbolt adapter that connects to your Macbook and will accept HDMI or DVI cables.

Once connected, you may need to go to Settings > Display to adjust your display settings and resolution to get the best quality picture.

The nice thing about making a wired connection to your TV is that once you've set it up, you can close your MacBook and continue to use it with a wireless keyboard and mouse and the TV as your computer monitor.

  • How do I connect my MacBook to my Windows PC?

    Install iTunes to connect AirPlay devices to Windows via Wi-Fi. Use a program like TuneBlade or Airfoil for streaming video. For screen mirroring, use AirMyPC, AirParrot, AirServer, or X-Mirage.

  • How do I enable AirPlay on my iPhone?

    For music, go to the Control Center and long-press Music, then tap the AirPlay icon and choose a device. For screen mirroring, go to the Control Center and tap Screen Mirroring or AirPlay Mirroring.

  • How do I turn off Apple AirPlay?

    On a Mac, select Mirroring > Turn Mirroring Off. On iOS devices, go to the Control Center and tap Screen Mirroring > Stop Mirroring. To disable the AirPlay feature on your Mac, go to Settings > Displays, select the AirPlay Display drop-down and choose Off.

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