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How to Connect a Macbook to a TV Using HDMI

Updated on October 24, 2016

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

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

  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.

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

How do you connect your Macbook to TV?

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    • profile image

      gwen 3 years ago

      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 :)

    • profile image

      sarah 3 years ago

      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?

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 3 years ago from Germany

      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.

    • profile image

      Bridget 3 years ago

      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?

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 3 years ago from Germany

      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

    • profile image

      topledtvs 3 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Sam 3 years ago

      Great job!

      Very informative and thorough, thank you!

    • webber444 profile image

      webber444 3 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Lybrah 3 years ago

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

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 3 years ago from Germany

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

    • profile image

      Andrzej 3 years ago

      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?

    • rustedmemory profile image

      David Hamilton 2 years ago from Lexington, KY

      You make it look easy

    • Sarah Dill profile image

      Sarah Dill 2 years ago from Ohio

      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!

    • profile image

      Han 2 years ago

      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?

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

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

    • Amy Naylor profile image

      Amy Naylor 2 years ago from England

      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.

    • profile image

      Nathalie 2 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      tea 2 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Mick 2 years ago

      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.

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 2 years ago from Germany

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

    • Sophie Caliendo profile image

      Sophie Caliendo 2 years ago from Skippack, Pennsylvania

      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

    • profile image

      GetSirius 2 years ago

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

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 2 years ago from Germany

      @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

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 2 years ago from Germany

      @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

    • profile image

      Tim 2 years ago

      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

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 2 years ago from Germany

      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.

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 2 years ago from Germany

      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

    • profile image

      Jen 2 years ago

      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.

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 2 years ago from Germany

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

    • profile image

      JosephBloggs 2 years ago

      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?

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 2 years ago from Germany

      @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.

    • profile image

      JosephBloggs 2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Amy 2 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      meme 23 months ago

      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.

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 19 months ago from Cicero, New York

      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

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 19 months ago from Germany

      Thanks Linda for your comment, much appreciated!!

    • unixbuzz profile image

      Aryan sharma 16 months ago from india

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

    • profile image

      ellie 10 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Joe Creighton 8 months ago

      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

    • hdmiguru profile image
      Author

      Tobias 8 months ago from Germany

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

    • profile image

      Lee 8 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Lee 8 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      mia 8 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Raymond 4 months ago

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

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