Our laptops and TV may appear to be nearly interchangeable these days. However, there are still some things that are only available on our laptops and not on our smart or not-so-smart televisions. There are a variety of instances in which you might wish to connect your laptop to your TV, including streaming video content through a streaming app, using a TV instead of a monitor, and presenting information to a packed room.
Here’s a summary of how to, from the most basic to the most old-school.
If you’re an Apple user, the AirPlay functionality is something you should think about. AirPlay is an Apple feature that allows you to cast content from your Apple devices to other AirPlay-enabled devices. The disadvantage is that it is only compatible with Apple devices that support AirPlay.
When you choose to link your laptop via AirPlay, you’ll select the TV from the available display options and then wait for a code to show on the TV screen that you type on the laptop to complete the link, similar to how you would with Bluetooth.
Chromecast is a comparable functionality offered by Google in their devices. It connects to similar devices in the same way as AirPlay or Bluetooth do. By checking at the box or the owner’s handbook, you can see if your TV is already Chromecast-compatible. If your TV isn’t compatible with Chromecast, you can use a streaming player connected to your TV through HDMI to cast content from a variety of devices and apps.
Unlike Apple’s AirPlay, which can only be used with Apple goods, Chromecast may be used with non-Google items by downloading a third-party app like Streamer and pairing it with your Apple computer, for example.
You can even cast your laptop via Roku using the Mirror app, which you can get through the Roku app or “channel” store, or any of the other similar casting apps for Roku that you can find by searching on your Roku.
It’s also possible that none of these solutions are available to you, which is astonishing. You may need to physically connect the laptop to the television with a connection in that scenario. The ideal solution is to use an HDMI cable, which connects to your TV’s HDMI inputs.
The HDMI port on your television or laptop is shaped like a cross between a rectangle and a triangle. Because most TVs have multiple HDMI inputs, you’ll have to pick between HDMI 1, HDMI 2, and so on when using the TV’s remote to pick the source. It makes no difference which one you choose; all that matters is that you know which one to use.
Many laptops have a full-sized HDMI output; all you have to do is plug one end of the HDMI cord into the laptop and the other end into the TV to connect the two devices. By using your TV remote to go to settings and choosing the source, make sure you select the correct HDMI outlet number as the source of your TV screen.
Some laptops have a Mini-HDMI port or a micro-HDMI port: To connect these to your TV, all you need is a micro to regular HDMI converter, which you can find online at Amazon or BestBuy, or in your local Target, Walmart, or electronics store.
HDMI can also be connected to laptops with Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, or Mini DisplayPort through an adaptor. Remember to look up your laptop’s specifications online to see what you’ll need and how you’ll connect it.
Finally, there’s the USB-C connector, which is rapidly appearing on new MacBooks and other non-Apple gadgets. The USB-C port is a small, multipurpose input/output that is frequently used to charge a device. This is where the USB-C to HDMI adapter should come in handy.
If you’re connecting via HDMI port 1, you’ll want to make sure you’ve selected that in the settings, and if you’re using a Chromecast player, you’ll want to make sure you have selected as the source whichever port that is connected. Otherwise you’ll be stuck staring at an alternate image on the screen, wondering where you went wrong.