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How to Connect a Macbook to a TV Using HDMI

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connect-macbook-to-tv-hdmi

How do you connect your Macbook to a TV? Apple itself isn't really giving much support when it comes to answering this question. This guide will help you with that -- whether you own a Macbook, a Macbook Pro, or a Macbook Air, learn how to connect it to an HD TV for your viewing pleasure.

Basic Items

  • Macbook / Mac / iMac with Mini DisplayPort (2010 model or newer)
  • TV / Screen / Projector with HDMI support

Extras

How to Connect a Macbook to a TV in 3 Easy Steps

Want to connect your Macbook laptop to an HD TV? Apple doesn't have any quick solution for this with their own products. Instead, they've recommended third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters. With the help of these adapters, you can easily send audio and video signals in best HDMI quality to external devices, e.g. TVs, video projectors, screens, without practically any quality loss.

Take the following steps to connect your Macbook with a HDMI TV using the right DisplayPort HDMI Adapter.

Note: If you'd rather like to connect your Macbook to TV wirelessly, read this Macbook Airplay guide.

Step 1: Check Macbook Version

First off, you'll need to make sure you have the correct version running on your Macbook. To figure this out, you'll need to:

  • Go to "About This Mac" in your Apple menu (under the Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner)
  • Then, double-click the version text (for example "Version 10.8")
  • Type the serial number into the Apple Support Page. You'll then see what version you are running on your Macbook.
connect-macbook-to-tv-hdmi

The following devices and versions are compatible and capable of sending both audio and video signals over the Mini DisplayPort:

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012 and later)*
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012)*
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 and later)*
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010)
  • MacBook (Mid 2010 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 and later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 and later)
  • iMac (Late 2009 and later) (source: support.apple.com)

Unfortunately, any older models can send video data only over the DisplayPort connection.

(Note: Do you have a Macbook with Thunderbolt instead of a Mini DisplayPort? Don't worry, it makes no difference for this tutorial. Both interfaces are 100% compatible and you can use the same Mini DisplayPort adapter for a Thunderbolt connection as well).

No additional adapter is necessary if you are connecting directly to the HDMI port on these specific models. These Macbook models released in 2012 and later already have a built in HDMI port. Just connect your Macbook and your HDMI cable with a TV. Skip step 2, in other words, and continue with step 3.

Step 2: Finding the Right Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter

In order to fully support both audio and video transmission, the Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter should support the VESA-1.1a DisplayPort Standard. Apple recommends the following three adapters which are known to adhere to this standard:

  • Moshi Mini DP to HDMI Adapter with Audio Support
  • Griffin Mini DisplayPort to HDMI and DVI Converter
  • iWires Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter

Our Choice: As a fourth option, check out this Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter with Audio support. While not explicitly recommended by Apple, it works similarly to the others and costs only half the price (at $10 on Amazon currently).

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Step 3: Enable Audio-Output Over HDMI on Your Mac

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Go to Sound Settings
  3. Switch to the tab “Output”
  4. If you have connected the Macbook to the TV as described above, you should now see the TV displaying your Macbook screen. Now, select the TV and you're all set.
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Congratulations! You've successfully connected your Mac to your TV. Go ahead and send audio and video signals from your Mac in best digital quality to your TV screen via HDMI. You can now:

  • Play movies on your Mac and watch them on your TV
  • Play music in iTunes and have the visual effects running on your TV
  • Start keynote presentations on your Mac and show them on a projector

Have fun!

FAQs: Connecting a Macbook to TV

I have set up the connection as described above, but the TV is only showing the Macbook desktop wallpaper

Usually you'll have to drag the video window that you want to appear on the TV screen right outside of the Macbook screen to make it appear on the TV. Alternatively, you could go to Preferences --> Displays and click on "Detect Displays." Choose the "mirroring" option and your computer screen should now be displayed on your TV 1:1

The TV is not showing the Macbook video signal

Try switching through the different HDMI input channels of your TV. Most TVs should automatically detect the Macbook video connections, but some models will require you to select the video input manually.

I have a new Macbook model with Snow Leopard installed but the Audio Output over HDMI is not working

Make sure your system has the latest software updates installed. With the upgrade to OSX Snow Leopard there was a Mini Display Port Audio Output bug, see this discussion in the Apple support forums.

Macbook to TV Infographic: Which Adapter For Which Model?

Macbook to TV Infographic: See which adapter is needed for which model

Macbook to TV Infographic: See which adapter is needed for which model

Poll

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: I have connected my MacBook to my Samsung, and it shows my screensaver but will not play the slideshow. What do I do?

Answer: Try pulling the windows with the slideshow over to the external monitor. Or: Go to Settings -> Displays and choose to mirror your MacBook screen.

Comments

screw this guy thats not a mac book65623 on May 23, 2018:

oi bro this wont work cuz apple dont want you to watch movies on this or use hdmi cable so just bye older macbook pro with dvd drive in it

susie trumps on February 09, 2018:

when i do that with the plug, it still won;t work

Lil BoB785 on February 09, 2018:

I'd recommend using media server apps, personally, I downloaded ArkMC for Mac. It streams my media to different devices without any other devices, cabels etc.

amotoni on December 27, 2017:

well, I connect my mac to smart tv with ArkMC app, it doesn't require cables or adapters and helps me to stream my media from mac wirelessly.

Raymond on December 31, 2016:

I have to manually switch the sound over when I plug in the HDMI. A bit annoying!

mia on September 13, 2016:

Hello, I have a MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013) I tried connecting HDMI to HDMI and nothing happens, same on BenQ projector. My computer doesn't seem to recognize the devices. Any Advices? Thanks in Advance.

Lee on September 13, 2016:

I connect my macbook pro to a hdtv using the HDMI adapter and I get a connection but "desktop 2" shows up on my tv and there is no "desktop 2" in Mission Control - just the default "desktop". Where is this "desktop 2" and how can I delete it?

Lee on September 13, 2016:

I connect my macbook pro to a hdtv using the HDMI adapter and I get a connection but "desktop 2" shows up on my tv and there is no "desktop 2" in Mission Control - just the default "desktop". Where is this "desktop 2" and how can I delete it?

Tobias (author) from Germany on September 13, 2016:

@Joe: Check out this link: http://smarturl.it/7n5jqz

Joe Creighton on September 11, 2016:

Guys - love the article except you say "Our Choice: As a fourth option, check out this Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter with Audio support. While not explicitly recommended by Apple, it works similarly to the others and costs only half the price (at $10 on Amazon currently)."

But you don't say which "this adapter" you're talking about. Amazon has many - HELP

ellie on July 22, 2016:

great article.. so clear! even for a tech ncewbie

Aryan sharma from india on January 24, 2016:

appreciate to write the article on this. after take a help from you tips, for me it's working..

Tobias (author) from Germany on October 15, 2015:

Thanks Linda for your comment, much appreciated!!

Linda Robinson from Cicero, New York on October 12, 2015:

Hi Tobias so nice meeting you and just wanted to pass on that you hub is very informative and helpful, easy to understand for any one whether a beginner or very high tech, thanks. Look forward to reading all of your hubs. Linda

meme on June 26, 2015:

Hi

My MacBook Air used to mirror to any tv just fine - using the HDMI cable. Then all of a sudden it just stopped working - and i have no idea why. I have even followed all the steps by going to system preference and clicking on display - but the tab arrangements does not show up. I have no idea what happened - please advice.

Amy on April 02, 2015:

My laptop use to connect to my T.V. fine, but now when I plug the HDMI cable in my laptop my laptop goes blank for a second like its connecting, then it doesn't connect, I thought it could be my HDMI cable or the mini display port, but its not because it seems to connect to my friends laptops fine, please help thanks.

JosephBloggs on February 23, 2015:

@hdmiguru Many thanks for that. I'll get an adaptor and give it a try.

Tobias (author) from Germany on February 23, 2015:

@JospehBloggs Try the following: Connect your Macbook with an external keyboard /mouse. Connect the Macbook to TV as described above, close it and wake it up by pressing any key on the keyboard. Your Macbook will run in Clamshell Mode and the HDMI output will be used as as the primary display source.

JosephBloggs on February 22, 2015:

I have a Macbook Air with a dead display (the hinge has broken and damaged the cable that runs through it.)

I'd like to use it with an external HDMI display, but of course I can't see anything on the screen to get to the display preferences and set up mirroring. Is there any other way to force the display onto the HDMI, e.g. a key sequence?

Tobias (author) from Germany on January 08, 2015:

Jen, try using one of those adapters mentioned in the article.

Jen on January 08, 2015:

I used a new Thunderbolt (male) to HDMI cable (male) to connect my 2013 MBA to a 2013/14 Samsung smart TV. I have not updated my OS to Yosemite.

Nothing.

The TV recognizes that the HDMI input is active but the MBA behaves as if there is no new connection.

Tobias (author) from Germany on January 06, 2015:

Update: Some users reported that an SMC reset on their Macbook helped solving their problems. See this Apple document for more information: http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295

Tobias (author) from Germany on December 30, 2014:

Tim, a lot of people are experiencing this with their Macbook Air. Whether it's done intentionally or not: it does leave behind a bad taste... Let's hope they provide a fix for Mac OS soon enough.

Tim on December 26, 2014:

My macAir(2014) used to connect with both a Samsung and LG TV and now will not after updating my iOS, any chance Apple has intentionally created this problem to force people to buy AppleTV? That really seems like the most logical answer, I've done all the troubleshooting steps and there is just no output

Tobias (author) from Germany on December 03, 2014:

@GetSirius: Set your TV as primary screen output (Preferences - Displays) and switch off your Macbook screen by pressing the F1 key until the screen turns off

Tobias (author) from Germany on December 03, 2014:

@Sophie Upgrade your OS to use the Display Mirroring feature to stream videos from you Mac to your TV (via Apple TV) wirelessly. Should also work with your old TV as long as it has HDMI connection

GetSirius on November 29, 2014:

Is it possible to show the video just on the TV screen and not on the MacBook Air? Thanks!

Sophie Caliendo from Skippack, Pennsylvania on November 17, 2014:

I have an older Panasonic flat screen, MacBook Pro late 2011, 10.7.5 software, apple tv, iPhone 5s and kindle hdx. I would like to stream videos/movies from my Mac Pro to tv. I know I have to upgrade to 10.8 but if I do will I be able to watch my movies or is my tv to old? I'm also trying to figure out if there is an adapter that is conducive to the Mac and Apple tv? I would appreciate any advice. Thanks

Tobias (author) from Germany on November 09, 2014:

It should work! Can you describe your problem a little more in detail?

Mick on November 08, 2014:

I am a little perplexed as to why I can't just connect to a TV screen using the HDMI output on my Macbook pro.

tea on October 17, 2014:

I'm so confused right now. I just bought a hdmi to dvi cable and connected my macbook to the montor but nothing is working, as if they weren't connected.

then I read that I should buy a thuderbolt to hdmi cable. BUT WHY?! why, when there is a direct hdmi output from the macbook. I don't understand!

Nathalie on September 17, 2014:

I have recently bought a mini display port to HDMI adapter and when I plug it in it doesn't work, I've tried what was suggested above, I have a Samsung TV and all that comes on to the TV is "No signal"

Can someone tell me what I'm doing wrong and how to fix this please.

Amy Naylor from England on August 05, 2014:

I'm using a mono price thunderbolt to hdmi adaptor and it's not working. The screen flashed when I plug it in, so I assume it's been detected, but the TV isn't showing up in any of my system preferences and my TV isn't picking up the Mac.

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on July 26, 2014:

We've used it successfully a number of times. Pretty neat. Thanks for a good tutorial! ;-)

Han on July 24, 2014:

I have a Macbook Air and am using the Kanex adapter. When I plug the cable into the TV (HDMI port) and my Macbook, the Macbook does not detect the TV. Any ideas?

Sarah Dill from Ohio on July 18, 2014:

I have been looking all over for something like this. I thought about just buying the apple tv for 100 since you move it around your house but this is a lot easier just never knew what cable to buy! thanks!

David Hamilton from Lexington, KY on June 17, 2014:

You make it look easy

Andrzej on February 14, 2014:

As I am trying to play a slideshow during a tradeshow and use my 2010 Macbook Air with HDMI TV and the connector from Mini Display to HDMI, will I be able to start the slideshow and close the Mac Air lid, so that it continues to play the slideshow without it being turned off?

Tobias (author) from Germany on December 30, 2013:

Hi Lybrah, which video input connections does your old TV have? You will need a corresponding adapter.

Lybrah on December 27, 2013:

I have an older tv--would it still work? It is not an HD tv, it is about 10-15 years old.

webber444 on October 29, 2013:

@sarah, gwen - I use connectionlab HDMI cables and I'm pleased with it:)

Sam on September 08, 2013:

Great job!

Very informative and thorough, thank you!

topledtvs on August 29, 2013:

I just wish the cables were not so expensive. Voted up!

Tobias (author) from Germany on August 08, 2013:

Apple recently admitted that some Macbook Pro 2010 models suddenly caused problems with the video output. Check again if you are using the latest version of your Mac OS by choosing "Software Update" from the Apple () menu. If so and the error still occurs, contact Apple support for local service options. You might also read the Apple support document "TS4088" on this issue

Bridget on August 07, 2013:

I used to be able to connect my MacBook Pro to my TV just fine (without sound because its an early 2010 model) but now it will not work. It's up to date, any suggestions?

Tobias (author) from Germany on July 19, 2013:

Hi Sarah, we can recommend the Amazon Basics High Speed HDMI cables. They deliver good quality at a fair price! But your connectionlab cable should also be fine as long as it has the High Speed standard. Check our Article on HDMI cable differences for more info.

sarah on July 17, 2013:

I was thinking about buying myself a new hdmi cable because my old one is barely working. Gwen, can you recommend my connectionlab. Is it as good as you are saying? Actually, I was looking through online reviews and many people are happy with connectionlab, so maybe I should go for it? What do you reckon?

gwen on July 10, 2013:

thx a lot for the article ! gr8 job.. i had a big problem with that - maybe im too lame :) now my connectionlab hdmi cable works perfectly :)