How to Mirror a Laptop to a TV

Casting a laptop's screen with a TV is pretty straightforward

What to Know

  • Windows computers use Miracast or Wi-Fi Direct under Settings. Macbooks use Airplay; go through Settings or use the Airplay icon.
  • Before you attempt to mirror to a TV, be sure the TV and the laptop are connected to the same network.
  • Can't go wireless? Connect the HDMI cable to your laptop and to your TV. Macbooks can use an adapter for a mini DisplayPort or USB-C.

This article explains how to mirror a laptop to a TV both wirelessly and using wires and includes instructions to stop mirroring, too.

The instructions in this article apply broadly to both Windows and Mac laptops when connecting them to smart HDTVs. It may be possible to mirror a laptop to a non-smart TV, however, it requires the use of additional equipment, not covered in this article.

How to Wirelessly Mirror a Windows Laptop to an HDTV

In all Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 computers, including laptops, there's a built-in capability for mirroring your screen on a television called Miracast or Wi-Fi Direct. There are a few things to keep in mind, though:

  • Both the television and the laptop need to be connected to the same network.
  • Your laptop and TV both should be current and completely updated with any operating system patches or security updates.
  • It is possible that a laptop that was upgraded from an older version of the operating system may not support Miracast (because of outdated hardware).
  • While most HDTVs will support Miracast, there are some that do not, and you will not be able to mirror your laptop to those TVs using Miracast unless you buy a separate Miracast dongle.

As long as your computer and your TV support Miracast, mirroring your TV should be a simple process.

  1. Make sure both your laptop and your TV are connected to the same network and then go to the Windows logo button (Start) > Settings > Devices.

    To get to Settings you could use the keyboard combination Windows Key + I (uppercase 'i').

    The Devices option in Windows Settings.
  2. In Bluetooth & other devices click Add Bluetooth or other devices.

    The Add Bluetooth or other device option in Windows Bluetooth & other devices.
  3. An Add a device dialog box opens. Select Wireless display or dock.

    The Wireless display or dock option in Windows 10.
  4. A list of available devices appears, select the television you're trying to connect to.

    The list of available devices in the Add a device dialog box in Windows.
  5. Your laptop will try to connect to the TV, and a message will appear on your television prompting you to allow or deny the connection. Select Allow and the connection will be established. It might take a few seconds for the image of your desktop to appear on the screen.

    If you have ever connected your laptop to an external monitor, your laptop might see the television as an Extended display. To change this, press the Windows Key + P on your keyboard to open the Projection screen. Select Duplicate or Second Screen Only to show your desktop on the television. Duplicate shows the desktop on both the laptop and the TV and Second Screen Only shows it only on the TV.

How to Stop Mirroring a Windows Laptop

When you're finished mirroring your screen on Windows, you can go back to Settings > Devices and find the name of the TV you're mirroring to. Select it and then click Remove Device. Mirroring will stop immediately.

The Remove Device option in the Devices menu on Windows 10.

How to Wirelessly Mirror a Mac Laptop Screen to a TV

Apple notebook computers, called MacBooks, have a feature called AirPlay. If your television supports AirPlay, then wirelessly mirroring your screen to your TV can be accomplished in two ways.

Wirelessly Mirror a MacBook Using Settings

Depending on how you have AirPlay set up on your MacBook, you may need to go through Settings to mirror your screen.

  1. Open System Preferences.

    Settings in the Doc on a Macbook.
  2. Select Displays.

    The Displays option on a MackBook Pro.
  3. In the dialog box that appears, click the AirPlay Display menu and select the TV you want to mirror your screen to.

    The available devices in the AirPlay Display dropdown menu on a Macbook.
  4. Your laptop will mirror to your TV and an options box will appear where you can change the optimization and brightness for the screen. You can close out of these windows without ending your AirPlay session.

    The display adjustments when mirroring with AirPlay on a MacBook.

How to Wireless Mirror a MacBook to a TV With the AirPlay Icon

If you have enabled Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available you should have an AirPlay icon on your menu bar that you can use to shortcut the process of mirroring your MacBook to your TV.

If you haven't enabled the AirPlay icon, you can do that now by going to Settings > Display and placing a checkmark in the box next to Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available.

All you have to do is click the AirPlay icon and select the TV you want to mirror to. (Yes, it's really that simple on a MacBook).

An available device to mirror to using the AirPlay icon on a MacBook.

How to Stop Mirroring on a MacBook

When you're finished working and want to end your mirroring session on a MacBook, click the AirPlay icon again and select Stop AirPlay. Your MacBook should stop mirroring and your TV will immediately become available again.

The Stop AirPlay option on a MacBook Pro.

How to Mirror Your Laptop Using Cables

If you don't have a newer laptop or a smart TV, you can probably still mirror your laptop to your TV, you'll just need to use an HDMI cable to do it.

If you're using an older laptop, you may need to use a VGA cable. The problem with VGA cables is that they don't carry sound, so you'll also need an audio cable if you want to hear the sounds your computer makes. Also, check your TV to make sure it has VGA ports. If not, you will need to purchase a VGA adapter, too.

All you need to do is connect the HDMI cable to your laptop and to your TV. Then, using the remote on your TV, select the input that corresponds with where you plugged the cable in.

On Windows, you can then use the keyboard combination Windows Key + P to open display settings and choose how you want to display/mirror your laptop screen.

On a MacBook, you may not have HDMI connections so you'll need an adapter for a mini DisplayPort or a USB-C. Once connected you can go to System Preferences > Display to adjust display settings if necessary.

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