How can you connect your laptop to your TV the easiest way possible? Here are some options, including the easiest one!
No matter whether you want to watch the latest blockbuster movie, binge watch Netflix, or immerse yourself in a particularly beautiful game, knowing how to connect a laptop to a TV is an essential skill you should master.
In our guide, we explain all the methods for connecting a laptop to a TV, and most of them are simpler than you might expect. These methods vary based on the age and distance of both the laptop and TV, as well as whether you prefer to go wired or wireless. Let’s dive in.
Method 1: Connecting A Laptop To A TV Using HDMI
This is probably the easiest method: all you need is a male-to-male HDMI cable. Locate the HDMI port on the laptop, connect one end of the cable, then do the same on the TV (marked “HDMI IN” or “HDMI 1/2/3”).
Note which HDMI port is being used on the TV, and change the input source on the TV to the correct one (newer devices will do this automatically). In a matter of seconds, Windows should automatically configure, and your desktop should appear on the screen.
You might need to check if Windows is correctly detecting the TV if any problems arise. You can fix this problem by right-clicking the desktop and selecting “Display Settings”.
In the ‘Display’ menu, click ‘Detect’. After that, Windows will search for exterior displays. Two squares should appear, labeled 1 and 2, with a description of the displays. If this happens, the TV is correctly detected.
You can modify the resolution and orientation according to your needs, as well as the brightness. You can also either duplicate or extend the display depending on what the TV is being used for.
“Duplicate” mirrors the laptop screen, while “Extend” combines the TV and laptop screens into one large display (usually used when streaming multiple monitors).
A major advantage of this method is its high-definition audio and video quality. Additionally, the cable itself is relatively inexpensive, and even a bargain version obtained from a local electronics store will suffice.
HDMI cables are typically short, meaning that the laptop must be close to the TV, which can be inconvenient for many setups. Choosing a longer cable will equate to a loss in quality, so tread carefully.
In the unlikely event that your TV doesn’t have a dedicated HDMI port, you’ll need a converter. Your TV will tell you which converter you need. Some older models may have VGA or DVI – which we cover below – as well as S-video or a composite video port.
Method 2: Connecting A Laptop To A TV Using VGA
If your laptop is older than six or seven years, it might still support the earlier rectangular 15-pin analog VGA standard output.
Turn the laptop off before continuing as the process is similar to HDMI. A male-to-male VGA cable should be plugged into the blue VGA port of the laptop, and then run the other end to the TV’s VGA port – sometimes referred to as “PC IN” or some variation including the word “computer”.
VGA is a video-only cable, so you’ll need to connect a 3.5mm mini-jack audio cable between the two devices to send audio.
Insert the cable into the laptop’s headphone jack (the universal standard is for the jack to be labeled green, but this may vary by laptop), then locate the “Audio IN” port on the TV. Some TVs have only the classic RCA red and white inputs. Choose a mini-jack to RCA cable in this case.
Restart the laptop. Windows should now automatically detect the TV, and the display should start within a few seconds. All other steps are the same as those described above for the HDMI method. Make sure you change your TV’s input source if it doesn’t automatically switch.
Using VGA only makes sense if you have an older TV without a porting option. Because the connection isn’t HD-enabled, expect a decline in quality.
Method 3: Connecting A Laptop To A TV Using DVI
They are quite rare (GPUs found in desktop gaming PCs have DVI outputs as standard for connecting to dedicated PC monitors), but 29-pin DVI inputs are available on some laptops and TVs. Similar to VGA, audio is transferred via a mini-jack/RCA setup.
Method 4: Connecting A Laptop To a TV Using Wi-Fi
As most Smart TVs are Wi-Fi-enabled, this method is also the most practical and convenient alternative if using a cable isn’t feasible. Wi-Fi can be used to connect a laptop to a TV in two ways. Below are the details.
There are some Wi-Fi TVs that are not compatible with this method, so looking through the device’s documentation is a good place to start.
It’s likely that the TV is already connected to the network, so this step may not be necessary.
Ensure the TV’s Wi-Fi is enabled (it may be marked as ‘Wi-Fi mode’, ‘Screen Mirroring’ or something similar) and connect to your local Wi-Fi network, i.e., the same network your laptop is on. Your router or modem will ask you to enter the security password.
Click on the Windows start icon and select “Settings”. Select the second option marked “Devices”, and then click “Connected devices” from the left-hand menu.
Selecting “Add a device” prompts Windows to search the network for available devices, including the TV. To select the TV, click on its name. After a few seconds, the laptop’s display should appear on the TV.
If the above does not work, right-click on the desktop, select “Display Settings”, then select “Duplicate this display” from the “Multiple Displays” drop-down menu and hit apply. Follow the steps above.
Some Smart TV/laptop models do not even require Wi-Fi to mirror a laptop, thanks to the Miracast standard. This technology allows devices to broadcast and communicate using a non-networked wireless connection and produces HDMI-level mirroring.
All you need to do is navigate to the “Connect” app in Windows and select the appropriate device. Additional steps may be required, as detailed in the TV manual. Not all laptops support Miracast, as we discuss below.
Using A USB Dongle
Mirroring dongles such as the Roku Streaming Stick and Google Chromecast are great proprietary solutions, but they are somewhat limited and generally are only practical for streaming videos.
Depending on the brand, the connection steps differ. Consult the provided documentation for details.
You can, however, purchase a Miracast USB dongle to connect the laptop to the TV. Connect the dongle to the laptop’s USB port, then in Windows, click on the “Connect” app and select the TV. The laptop’s display will appear on the TV immediately.
A Wi-Fi connection is convenient, but the lack of a wired connection can cause problems with audio and video, not to mention an unexpected router restart that can break the connection between laptop and TV.
Due to its shaky reliability and poor quality, Miracast is gradually being phased out. We should not forget that using a dongle means factoring in additional costs as well.
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This was a complete guide on how to connect a laptop to a TV. You should now be ready to go. There’s a good chance that both your laptop and TV have HDMI ports, and it’s by far the easiest method that produces the best results in terms of quality and fidelity.