How to Connect the iPad to Your TV Wirelessly or With Cables

A guide to hooking up your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch to your HDTV

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection

The iPad a great way to cut the cord and get rid of cable television, but what about watching on your TV? If you'd prefer watching on your wide screen, you can connect your iPad to your TV via a wired or wireless connection.

You can also connect your headphones to any TV for a private viewing experience. Here are five ways to achieve your iPad television goals.

Instructions in this article apply to all iPads, as indicated.

Connect Your iPad and TV With Apple TV and AirPlay

An illustration of the ways to connect an iPad to a TV.
 Miguel Co ©Lifewire

Apple TV is a great way to connect your iPad to your TV. Because it uses AirPlay, it is wireless, so you can keep your iPad in your lap and send the display to your TV. This is by far the best solution for games, where having a wire connecting your iPad to your TV is limiting.

The apps already installed on the Apple TV provide a bonus. If you love Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Crackle, you don't need to connect your iPad to enjoy streaming video from these services. The apps run natively on Apple TV. 

Apple TV also works great with the iPhone and iPod Touch, allowing you to both stream video through AirPlay or use your entertainment system's speakers to play music. Apple's 2017 model of Apple TV has a powerful enough processor in it that it now has access to a full-blown version of the App Store and it can stream video in 4K.


How to Connect the iPad to Your TV Wirelessly or With Cables

Apple TV connects to your television using standard HDMI cables and uses AirPlay to communicate with your iPad wirelessly. Even apps that don't support AirPlay work via display mirroring, which replicates your iPad's screen on your TV.

Connect the iPad Wirelessly Without Using Apple TV Via Chromecast

Chromecast by Google
Y2kcrazyjoker4 / CC by 4.0

If you don't want to go the Apple TV route but still want to connect your iPad to your TV without a lot of wires, Google's Chromecast is an alternative solution. Rather than the Apple TV being hooked up to a TV, you'll connect a Chromecast to a TV.

It has a relatively easy setup process that uses your iPad to configure the Chromecast and hook it into your Wi-Fi network. When everything is set up and working, you can cast the iPad's screen to your television—as long as the app you are in supports Chromecast.

That's the significant limiting factor compared to Apple TV: Chromecast support needs to be built into the app compared to Apple TV's AirPlay, which works with almost every app for the iPad. 

So why use Chromecast? For one thing, streaming devices like Chromecast are much cheaper than Apple TV. It also works with both Android and iOS devices, so if you have an Android smartphone along with your iPad, you can use Chromecast with both of them.

Connect the iPad to Your HDTV Through HDMI

HDMI/Lightning adapter

Apple's Lightning Digital AV Adapter is perhaps the easiest and most straightforward way to connect your iPad to your HDTV. It works through an HDMI cable to send the iPad's screen directly to the TV, so it works with any app that runs on your iPad.

Worried about battery life? The adapter also allows you to connect a USB cable to your iPad to provide power to the device and keep the battery from running low while you are binging on Seinfeld or How I Met Your Mother. You can also stream your movie collection from your PC to your iPad to your HDTV using Home Sharing. This is a great way to finally switch from DVD and Blu-ray to digital video without losing the ability to see it on your big-screen TV.

The Lightning connector does not work with the original iPad, iPad 2, or iPad 3. You need to buy a Digital AV Adapter with a 30-pin connector for these older iPad models.

Connect the iPad Using Composite or Component Cables

Composite AV Cable for iPad (30 pin)

If your television doesn't support HDMI or you are running low on HDMI outputs on your HDTV, you can opt for connecting the iPad to your TV with composite or component cables.

The component adapters separate the video into red, blue, and green, which gives a slightly better picture, but component adapters are only available for the old 30-pin adapters. Composite adapters use a single yellow video cable along with red and white sound cables, which are compatible with almost all televisions.

The component and composite cables don't support Display Mirroring mode on the iPad, so they only work with apps such as Netflix and YouTube that support video out. They also fall short of 720p video, so the quality isn't as great as it is when using a digital AV adapter or Apple TV.

This accessory may not be available for the newer Lightning connector, so you may need a Lightning-to-30-pin adapter.

Connect the iPad With a VGA Adapter

Lighting to VGA adapter

With Apple's Lightning-to-VGA adapter, you can hook up your iPad to a television that is equipped with a VGA input, a computer monitor, a projector, or another display device that support VGA. This solution is great for monitors. Many newer monitors support multiple display sources; you could switch between using your monitor for your desktop and using it for your iPad.

The VGA adapter supports the Display Mirroring mode. However, it does not transfer sound, so you either need to listen through the iPad's built-in speakers or through external speakers.

If you are planning on watching through your television, the HDMI adapter or the component cables are the best solutions. If you plan on using a computer monitor or want to use your iPad for large presentations with a projector, the VGA adapter may be the best solution. 

This solution is best for using a monitor to project a large screen for an audience, such as for presentations at work or in school.

Watch Live TV on Your iPad

Several accessories are designed to allow you to watch live TV on your iPad, gaining access to your cable channels and even your DVR from any room in the house or while away from home through your data connection.