How to Connect a Macbook to a TV Using 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.
- Macbook / Mac / iMac with Mini DisplayPort (2010 model or newer)
- TV / Screen / Projector with HDMI support
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.
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).
Step 3: Enable Audio-Output Over HDMI on Your Mac
- Open System Preferences
- Go to Sound Settings
- Switch to the tab “Output”
- 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.
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
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?
How do you connect your Macbook to TV?
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
I have connected my MacBook to my Samsung, and it shows my screensaver but will not play the slideshow. What do I do?
Try pulling the windows with the slideshow over to the external monitor. Or: Go to Settings -> Displays and choose to mirror your MacBook screen.Helpful 2