How to Connect Your MacBook Air to a TV

Create a bigger workspace or share presentations and pictures

There are many reasons to connect your MacBook Air to a TV. You may want to browse the web on a big screen, share presentations or pictures, or create a bigger workspace. Whatever the reason, there are several methods for connecting a MacBook Air to a TV.

These instructions should work for any MacBook Air iteration with a Mini DisplayPort, a Thunderbolt port, or a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port.

Before You Begin

Before you get started, it’s important to determine what type of ports you have on your TV and MacBook Air.

TV Ports

There are several TV video input standards, but VGA (sometimes referred to as RGB) and HDMI are the most common.

HDMI supports higher-resolution displays and has faster transfer rates, making it better suited for connecting your MacBook Air to a TV. However, if your TV only has a VGA port, or it’s the only input available, you can still use it to connect your MacBook Air.

MacBook Air Display Ports

The MacBook Air has gone through several iterations with a variety of video display ports. Your MacBook Air must have a Mini DisplayPort, a Thunderbolt port, or a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port in order to connect to a TV.

To check your device's video display port, select the Apple icon in the top left corner of your desktop. Go to About This Mac, followed by Support and Specifications. This will open a browser page with a detailed spec list for your device. Scroll down to Graphics and Video Support to see details of your display port and the various technologies it supports.

Early MacBook Airs with only a Micro-DVI port won't work with these methods.

Hardware Needed for Connecting a MacBook Air to a TV

Once you've established which ports you have on your TV and MacBook Air, you'll need the correct adapters and cables.

MacBook Air With Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt Port and TV With HDMI Port

If you are using a MacBook Air with a Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt port and connecting to your TV's HDMI port, you will need a Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter and an HDMI male-to-male cable long enough to operate your MacBook Air at a comfortable distance from the TV.

MacBook Air With Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt Port and TV With VGA Port

If you are using a MacBook Air with a Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt port and connecting to your TV's VGA port, you will need a Mini DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter and a VGA male-to-male cable long enough to operate your MacBook Air at a comfortable distance from the TV.

MacBook Air With USB-C Thunderbolt Ports and TV With HDMI Port

If you are using a MacBook Air with USB-C Thunderbolt ports and connecting to your TV's HDMI port, you will need a USB-C-to-HDMI cable long enough to operate your MacBook Air at a comfortable distance from the TV.

MacBook Air With USB-C Thunderbolt Ports and TV With VGA Port

If you are using a MacBook Air with USB-C Thunderbolt ports and connecting to your TV's VGA port, you will need a USB-C-to-VGA adapter and a VGA male-to-male cable long enough to operate your MacBook Air at a comfortable distance from the TV.

How to Connect a MacBook Air to a TV Using HDMI

For this demonstration, we will be connecting a MacBook Air using a Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter, connecting to the TV's HDMI port. Follow the same steps using the appropriate adapters and cables for your setup.

  1. Make sure your TV and MacBook Air are both turned off.

  2. Plug your HDMI cable into an available HDMI port on your TV.

  3. Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to the Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter.

    HDMI cable connected to Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.
  4. Attach your Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter to your MacBook Air via the Lightning port.

    Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter attached to MacBookAir.
  5. Turn on your TV. Make sure it’s set to the correct HDMI input.

  6. Turn on your MacBook Air and log in as usual. You should see your display mirrored on the TV right away.

If you don’t see your MacBook Air mirrored to your TV, adjust your laptop's display settings. Select the Apple icon in the upper left of your MacBook Air display, then click System Preferences > Displays. You should see your TV as a connected display with the option of mirroring or setting it as a second screen.

Connecting a MacBook Air to a TV Using Apple TV

An Apple TV is very good for streaming content directly to your TV or casting content from macOS and iOS products. It also serves as a great device for mirroring or expanding your MacBook Air desktop to your TV.

  1. Ensure your Apple TV and MacBook Air are both powered on and connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

  2. Select the AirPlay icon in your MacBook Air menu bar.

  3. A dropdown menu will open.

    From here, you have the option to Mirror Built-In Display (which matches your ratio and resolution to the TV), Mirror TV (which reconfigures to your TV's ratio and resolution), and Use As Separate Display (which treats your TV as an additional display).

    Select your preference and then select the TV to which you want to connect.

    Screenshot of AirPlay menu on macOS
  4. You are now connected. Remember, all media audio will playback via the TV.

  5. To disconnect your MacBook Air from your TV, select the AirPlay icon on your MacBook Air, then click Turn AirPlay Off. Alternatively, press Menu on the Apple TV remote to turn off the connection.

Connecting a MacBook Air to a TV Using a Chromecast

Google's Chromecast is a versatile TV dongle that lets you cast video, audio, and more from smartphones, tablets, and laptops. When paired with the Chrome browser, use it to connect your MacBook Air to your TV.

When a MacBook Air and Chromecast are connected, you can cast a Chrome tab to your TV, cast a file from your MacBook Air to your TV, or mirror your desktop to your TV.

Audio sharing is not supported when using Chromecast to cast a tab or mirror your desktop on a TV. You can only play audio when using the Cast file feature to share a video or a sound file.

Cast a Chrome Tab From MacBook Air to TV

  1. Turn on your TV and make sure it’s set to display your Chromecast.

  2. Power on your MacBook Air and make sure it's connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast.

  3. Open Google Chrome on your MacBook Air.

  4. In Chrome, select the Chromecast icon located toward the top right of the display.

    Chrome tab with the Chromecast icon highlighted.
  5. This will open a list of available Chromecast devices. Select the Sources tab, then select Cast tab.

    Screenshot of the Chromecast feature in Chrome with the Cast Tab option highlighted.
  6. Next, select the TV you want to cast to.

    Screenshot of Chromecast feature in Chrome with connected device highlighted.
  7. Once connected, you will see a blue circle surrounding a square. Your tab is now being displayed on your TV.

    To share a different tab to your TV, you must first stop casting the current tab. To do this, select the Chromecast icon again, then select the blue circle and square. Once you have disconnected, go to the new tab you want to share and repeat steps 5 and 6.

  8. When you're finished casting and want to disconnect from your TV, select the Chromecast tab in Chrome and select the blue circle and square, or simply close the browser tab.

How to Mirror a MacBook Air Desktop to a TV

  1. Turn on your TV and make sure it’s set to display your Chromecast.

  2. Power on your MacBook Air and make sure it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast.

  3. Open Chrome on your MacBook Air.

  4. In Chrome, select the Chromecast icon located toward the top right of the display.

    Chrome tab with the Chromecast icon highlighted.
  5. This will open a list of available Chromecast devices with a Sources tab at the bottom. Select Sources, then select Cast desktop.

    Screenshot of Chromecast feature in Chrome with Cast desktop feature highlighted.
  6. Next, select the TV you want to cast to.

    Screenshot of Chromecast feature in Chrome with connected device highlighted.
  7. You will see a popup on your MacBook Air informing you that Chrome wants to share your display. Select Share to confirm.

    Screenshot of Chromecast screen sharing permissions.
  8. Your MacBook Air desktop is now mirrored to your TV. To disconnect from your TV, click the Chromecast tab in Chrome, and then click the blue circle and square next to your TV connection.

Cast a File From a MacBook Air to a TV

  1. Turn on your TV and make sure it’s set to display your Chromecast.

  2. Power on your MacBook Air and make sure it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast.

  3. Open Chrome on your MacBook Air.

  4. In Chrome, select the Chromecast icon located toward the top right of the display.

    Chrome tab with the Chromecast icon highlighted.
  5. This will open a list of available Chromecast devices with a Sources tab at the bottom. Select Sources, then select Cast file.

    Screenshot of Chromecast feature in Chrome with Cast file option highlighted.
  6. Next, select the TV you want to cast to.

  7. A file-picker will open. Choose the video or audio file you want to cast to your TV.

  8. Your file will be mirrored to your TV. Audio will also play directly from the TV. Playback is still controlled via your MacBook Air.

    If you're casting a video, you may see a notification asking if you want to run the content through the TV only. Doing this will improve playback quality.

    Screenshot of Chromecast function in Chrome with demonstrating Cast file playback.
  9. To disconnect from your TV, select the Chromecast tab in Chrome, and then select the blue circle and square next to your TV connection.

When using the Cast file feature, video support is limited to MP4 or WebM formats. Audio is limited to WAV or MP3.