How to connect a Mac to a TV

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If you want to view your Mac content on another display or if you want to use your TV as your primary display, you can connect your computer to the TV. Different types of HDMI cables will allow you to connect a Mac to a TV, but you can also use AirPlay to view your Mac's content on an Apple TV.

How to connect a Mac to a TV using a cable

Find the HDMI input on your TV. TVs usually have multiple video inputs, but HDMI is still the most popular on high definition models and the one that offers the best results. In general, the HDMI port is on the back or side of the TV, and most modern TVs have at least 2. If your TV doesn't have an HDMI port, you'll need to look for another video input and purchase a compatible adapter. video output of your Mac.

Determine the video output of your Mac. Macs manufactured within the last 8 years transmit sound and images through one of the ports below.

  • Thunderbolt 3: This is an oval port (also known as USB-C) found on the back of recent iMacs and the latest MacBooks. You'll need to use a USB-C to HDMI cable if your Mac has a Thunderbolt 3 port.
  • Thunderbolt 2 - You'll find this square port on older Macs. If your MAC has one, you'll need a Thunderbolt 2 to HDMI cable (or a Thunderbolt 2 to HDMI adapter and an HDMI cable).
  • HDMI: This port is used on older MacBooks. If your MAC has an HDMI port, use a standard HDMI cable to connect it to your TV.

Buy the right cable for connect a Mac to a TV. You'll find standard HDMI cables at an electronics store, but for a USB-C to HDMI or Thunderbolt 2 to HDMI cable, you'll likely find it on the internet. Best Buy and Amazon are the most used sites for purchasing non-standard cables.

If your TV doesn't have an HDMI port and you need to buy an adapter, look for a device that plugs into your Mac's video output and your TV's video input (such as a USB-C to VGA or Thunderbolt 2 to VGA) as well as an audio cable to RCA for sound.

It is likely that you will need to purchase a Component Cable (RCA) adapter. HDMI, Thunderbolt 2, and Thunderbolt 3 cables (and their adapters) all support audio.

Connect one end of the cable to your Mac. If you are not using a conventional HDMI cable, this will be the Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 2 end. If you are using an HDMI cable, you can connect either end to the Mac. If you are using an adapter not HDMI for your TV, you will also need to connect the auxiliary cable end to the jack on the Mac.

Connect the HDMI end of the cable to the TV for connect a Mac to a TV. Insert it into the HDMI port on the side or back of the TV. You won't have to force it as the cable only fits in one direction. If you are using a non-HDMI cable, insert the end into the input you want to use and then insert the red and white plugs into the red and white ports on the TV.

Turn on your television. Press the power button on your TV to turn it on. Select the HDMI input. Press the Enter button on the TV or select HDMI using the remote control. This step will depend on the appearance of the TV and the remote control.

For example, if the HDMI port you are using is labeled "HDMI 3", select the "HDMI 3" input on the TV.

Wait for the Mac screen to appear on the TV. If your Mac is on, the screen content should appear on the TV after a few seconds. If nothing appears, you will need to change your Mac's audio and display settings.

How to connect a Mac to a TV using an Apple TV

Configure your Apple TV. In order to use AirPlay, Apple TV must be set up and connected to the TV. Connect your Mac to the same network as Apple TV. Your Mac and Apple TV must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network before you can only see your Mac's screen on your TV.

To find the network your Apple TV is connected to, go to Settings, select Network and look for the name of the available Wi-Fi. Make sure the iMac is within 9 feet of your Apple TV if you connect them together.

Turn on your Apple TV. Press the power button on your TV and then any button on the Apple TV remote. If you have not selected the Apple TV input on your TV (eg HDMI 1), you must first do so before you can view its content.

Enable AirPlay on Apple TV. In general, AirPlay is enabled by default on Apple TV, but you need to make sure it is configured by following these steps:

  • open Apple TV settings
  • select AirPlay
  • select AirPlay at the top of the screen
  • choose All from the menu

Open the Apple menu. Click the Apple logo at the top left of the screen to open a drop-down menu. Select System Preferences. This option is located at the top of the drop-down menu and opens the System Preferences window. Click Monitor. This is the monitor icon in the middle of the System Preferences window.

Open the Monitor tab. It is at the top left of the window. Pull down the AirPlay Monitor menu. This is the drop-down menu at the bottom left of the window. Select your Apple TV. In the drop-down menu that appears, click on the Apple TV name to view the Mac screen contents on the TV.

Change the resolution of the television. Check the Scale box and select a resolution. This option allows you to match the resolution of your TV to that of your Mac (if your TV allows it). A higher resolution than the TV cannot be used. For example, you cannot select a 4K resolution if your TV only supports Full HD.

Change the screen size. Drag sub-scan left to shrink the screen from Mac to TV and right to zoom in. This option allows you to fit the MAC screen to the TV if the picture is too wide or too small.

Open the Sound menu. Click the settings in the upper left of the System Preferences window and select Audio in the main window to open a new window.

Select Output. This tab is at the top of the window and opens a list of speakers your Mac has access to. Select your Apple TV. Click the Apple TV name (or click Apple TV) to play your Mac sounds on Apple TV.

 How to connect a Mac to a TV, conclusions

Viewing a Mac screen on a TV can be useful for playing videos or gaming. Some connected TVs have apps you can download to your Mac to stream screen content via Wi-Fi rather than cable.

If your Mac screen displays content with a higher resolution or frame rate than the TV supports, you may experience display problems. If you connect a very old Mac to a new TV (or vice versa), you'll get unpredictable results or no images.

How to clean a Smart TV screen

Further Reading:

  • How to connect the computer to the TV with an HDMI cable
  • 6 solutions for when the TV won't turn on
  • How to connect an iPad to the TV
  • How to connect a DVD recorder to a TV
  • Miracast: how to project your smartphone screen on your TV

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