How to Connect Your MacBook Air to a TV

Create a bigger workspace or share presentations and pictures

Connecting your MacBook Air to a TV offers several benefits. You may want to browse the web on a big screen, share presentations or pictures, or create a bigger workspace. Whatever the reason, you can use a variety of methods to get your MacBook Air and TV working together.

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, determine what type of ports you have on your TV and MacBook Air.

TV Ports

Several TV video input standards exist, but VGA (or 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 Video Ports

The MacBook Air has gone through several iterations with a variety of video display ports. Your MacBook Air must have one of the following to connect to a TV:

  • A Mini DisplayPort.
  • A Thunderbolt port.
  • A USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port.

To see what your computer has, select About This Mac under the Apple icon in the top left corner of your desktop. Click the Support tab, and then select Specifications to 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.

Specifications in the "About This Mac" window

What You Needed to Connect 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. Check the table below to see what you need.

MacBook Air Port TV Port Adapters and Cables
Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt HDMI

Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter, HDMI male-to-male cable

Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt VGA

Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter, VGA male-to-male cable

USB-C Thunderbolt HDMI USB-C to HDMI cable
USB-C Thunderbolt VGA USB-C to VGA adapter, VGA male-to-male cable

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 and switch it 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.

    The AirPlay menu
  3. A dropdown menu will open. Select the name of your Apple TV.

    Select the name of your Apple TV
  4. Three more options will appear under the AirPlay menu:

    • Mirror Built-In Display: matches your ratio and resolution to the TV.
    • Mirror TV: reconfigures to your TV's ratio and resolution.
    • Use As Separate Display: treats your TV as an additional display.
    AirPlay options
  5. To disconnect your MacBook Air from your TV, select the AirPlay icon on your MacBook Air, and then click Turn AirPlay Off.

    Alternatively, press Menu on the Apple TV remote to turn off the connection.

How to Connect 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 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.

How to Cast a Chrome Tab From MacBook Air to TV

Use your Chromecast with the Chrome browser to put tabs on the big screen.

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

    The Chromecast icon
  4. A list of available Chromecast devices will open. Select the Sources pulldown menu, and then select Cast tab.

    The Cast Tab command
  5. Next, select the TV you want to cast to.

    A TV in the Chromecast menu
  6. Once connected, you will see a blue circle surrounding a square.

    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.

  7. 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

You can also use a Chromecast to send your entire screen to a TV. Here's how.

  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.

    The Chromecast icon
  5. Select Sources, and then select Cast desktop.

    The Cast Desktop command
  6. Select the TV you want to cast to.

    A TV in the Chromecast menu
  7. A popup will appear on your MacBook Air. Select Share to confirm.

    The Share button
  8. 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

You don't have to share your entire screen. You can also cast individual files from your MacBook Air. Here's what to do.

  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.

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

    The Cast File command
  6. Select the TV you want to cast to.

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

  8. The Chromecast will stream the file to your TV. Audio will also play directly from the TV. You can still control playback 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.