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How to Connect an iPad to TV With HDMI or Wireless Airplay

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Tobias is an online writer who likes to keep up-to-date with the latest technology trends.

Connecting an iPad to a TV display can be really useful: whether you want to show photos or videos to family members, or bring movies to the big screen. The iPad supports video output naturally and can easily be connected to an external display.

Read on to learn the best methods for connecting your iPad to your TV.

Read on to learn the best methods for connecting your iPad to your TV.

iPad to TV: Connect Wirelessly or With Cable?

Decide first: Do you want to connect your iPad to TV with or without cables? Both solutions are possible:

  • Connect iPad to TV wirelessly using Apple TV: Best solution at home for watching videos, sharing movies or hanging out with friends.
  • Connect iPad to TV with an HDMI adapter cable: For all who travel a lot and intend to use the iPad-to-TV set-up on-the-go (e.g. hotel rooms, business presentations, etc.). The HDMI Adapter cable is called "Lightning Digital AV Adapter" by Apple.

What is best for you depends on your preferences! Ultimately, you'll have to decide on your own which approach you want to take. In this guide, we'll explain both solutions starting with the wireless way using Apple TV Airplay.

The Wireless Way: Connecting an iPad to a TV Using Apple TV

Setting up Apple TV is as easy as it could be. It is works with a technology called AirPlay to sync your Apple products. What that is? Probably the only real thing that Android users are jealous of Apple users.

Apple TV box with remote.

Apple TV box with remote.

The Basics:

  • 1x iPad 2 or newer
  • 1x TV with HDMI port
  • 1x HDMI Cable for Apple TV

Initial Set-Up

AirPlay is a technology that allows you to wirelessly stream photos, movies, videos, music and even some apps (see bottom) over an existing Wi-Fi network. The only things you need is an Apple TV device and a compatible iDevice (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) running at least iOS 4.3. Even Macs do support AirPlay these days.

To use AirPlay Apple TV is needed as a kind-of base station (but it can do even more). Apple TV must be plugged into your TV using an HDMI cable and must be connected to an existing Wi-Fi network (in some cases a direct peer-to-peer connection can be possible). The initial set-up takes more or less 10 minutes. After that everything is very easy and Apple-like:

Connect iPad to a TV via Apple TV

  1. Connect your iPad to the same Wi-Fi network as your Apple TV
  2. Open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. If you're using an app that uses similar swipe gestures, you might have to swipe up twice.
  3. Now tap the AirPlay button and select "Apple TV". When you are now starting a video, movie or slideshow on your iPad the picture will nicely fade over to your TV.

Tip: You can activate Display Mirroring in Control Center to mirror a 1:1 copy of your iPad's screen to your TV.

Cool thing isn't it? As mentioned before even new Macbooks do support AirPlay which allows nice effects.

Extra-Tip: Apple TV comes with a lot of pre-installed apps which let you access plenty of content directly from your TV without even touching your iPad. Besides content from the Apple ecosystem (iTunes, Photostream, etc.) you can also watch e.g. Netflix directly from Apple TV.

The Wired Way: iPad to TV With HDMI Adapter Cable

The Lightning HDMI Adapter for iPad (Apple refers to it as Digital AV Adapter) is ultra-portable and delivers an excellent and stable display quality. However, bear in mind that the adapter is not capable of processing "raw" HD signals. The video stream will be converted and thus suffer (minimal) quality losses.

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The Basics

  • 1x iPad (all generations)
  • 1x HDTV with free HDMI port
  • 1x HDMI cable

When you are using your iPad-to-TV set-up mostly for travel or business purposes, the iPad HDMI adapter is the first choice for you.

No installation, no config, stable connection:

  1. Connect the Lightning Digital AV adapter to the iPad
  2. Connect the adapter to the TV using a high-speed HDMI Cable
  3. Select the corresponding HDMI input source from your TV settings—done!

Now, if you start an app with external display support, the multimedia content will automatically appear on the TV. Examples:

  • Start a presentation in the Photos app and it will automatically be displayed on the TV
  • Start a Keynote presentation and it will automatically appear on the TV
  • Start a video and it will automatically be played on the TV.

Just as described in the Airplay section above, you could also use Display Mirroring to show a 1:1 copy of your iPad's screen on TV (iPad 2 and newer).

Tip: You can charge your iPad via the USB port of your Digital AV Adapter while watching movies.

Comparison: iPad Wireless vs. HDMI Connection

Lightning HDMI AdapterApple TV

Audio and video HDMI output in 1080p HD

Wireless audio and video transmission in 1080p HD

Stable video connection

Supports display mirroring

Supports display mirroring

Can be connected to any other Apple product

Cheaper than Apple TV

iCloud integration

Easy to setup and portable

Access to Apple TV apps

Cable hassle

Access to all other Apple apps and music

Could become outdated quickly

Wi-Fi network required


More expensive than the lightning adapter and not as portable

Wrapping It All Up

If you want to hook your iPad to your TV then Apple TV is probably the best option for you. The wireless way has some clear advantages:

  • Convenient, wireless playback of contents via AirPlay from e.g. your sofa
  • Better value for money compared to the Digital AV Adapter
  • iPhone, iPod and Macbooks can also be connected to Apple TV
  • Pre-installed Apps on Apple TV allow immediate, direct access to content even without an iPad
  • More and more features are likely to be added to Apple TV in the future

But where there is light there is also shadow. Here are the drawbacks of the wireless way:

  • Apple TV is more expensive than the iPad HDMI Adapter
  • Apple TV requires initial set-up and is not really portable
  • With Airplay you may possibly encounter lags during video-playback if the Wi-Fi network is not stable enough or if there are too many users connected to the network. The HDMI connection is much more reliable.

So before you go and shop for an iPad HDMI Adapter better think twice if an Apple TV might not be the better deal for you. In the long run, the tiny little Apple set-top might prove to be the better investment.

Can All iOS Apps Be Streamed to a TV?

Short answer: No. Whether an app can be streamed to a TV or not depends on whether the app developers have enabled the video-out functionality for their app. Most audio and video players will work. However, some popular apps such as Amazon Instant Video Player are lacking the video-out feature due to licensing issues.

Apple itself is listing all Airplay enabled apps on a dedicated page in the App store. Just browse this list to find your favorite.

Airplay-enabled apps in the App store

Airplay-enabled apps in the App store

Can I Connect My iPad to Google Chromecast?

Answer: Yes, that's possible. However it would not be fair to call Chromecast a true alternative to Apple TV. Only some few apps offer Chromecast / iPad support. All you have to do is download the Google Chromecast App from the App Store for the initial set-up of your Chromecast stick. To use Chromecast from your iPad you need to download special Chromecast-enabled apps. Here's an imperfect shortlist:

  • Official Google Apps: Chromecast App (for set-up), YouTube, Google Play Movies, Google Play Music, Photowall for Chromecast
  • Video/Movie Apps: DS Video, Plex, StreamNation, RealPlayer Cloud
  • Photo Apps: Photo Cast for Chromecast, PixiPush, CastOnTV Free, PixoCast
  • Music Apps: AudioViz, Projectify, Downcast
  • Games: TicTacToe for Chromecast

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: When I use my lightening av adapter while using NFL Network app or NFL Fantasy app I only get sound with no video, is that because these apps are not compatible?

Answer: Yes, these apps probably don’t support external AV output, mostly for licensing reasons.

© 2013 Tobias


Chris on October 23, 2018:

Can I watch the sky go app on a connected iPad to TV set up?

me on February 04, 2018:


lilbob on January 26, 2018:

Why use cables if you can connect your Apple devices to TV just wirelessly. there are so many applications for these actions. For example, I use beamer or ArkMC. Both of the applications are free of charge with in-app purchases. I have a lot of avi videos and haven't faced any problem by streaming them from MAC on tv via my iPhone. Cables....old centuries!

Beebum on October 07, 2017:

Using the lightning to HDMI adapter, an App (in this case, YouTube) on my iPhone 6s fills my TV perfectly. However the same App, connector and TV with my iPad Air has black bars on the side. Is there a way to fix this?

Deb on September 19, 2017:

How do I get iPad to connect to Apple TV?

amotoni on September 07, 2017:

Thanks for the info! But I have been using for a long time ArkMC app, which allows streaming wirelessly all your media from iphone/ipad/tablet etc. to TV/Xbox/ Mac etc. without any expensive cables or adapters.

Ron on March 07, 2017:

trying to set up samsung tv with my mac so I can use Facetime and show it on the TV.....

Tobias (author) from Germany on October 24, 2016:

Yes it could be due to a faulty adapter if the error occurs occasionally.

Vincent Crowe on October 20, 2016:

Using lightning digital AV adapter. Often only get sound but no picture on tv from iPad.could digital adapter be faulty or is there a solution?

Al from Australia, Hong Kong, USA on March 25, 2016:

Very helpful thanks.

refergadget on April 28, 2015:

Thanks for the information but it seems that AirPlay Mirroring works only with apple TV, not with the lightning adapter option

and i even more like android phone i want same trick with android mobile

Tobias (author) from Germany on February 10, 2015:

@TTGReview: it is possible with the Chromecast app which you can download on the App Store. However, the feature set is very limited compared to the iPad-to-TV solution with Apple TV

Tobias (author) from Germany on February 10, 2015:

We updated this hub today so it fits with the recent iOS updates. Have fun!

TTGReviews on January 26, 2015:

Have any of you guys tried using a Google Chromecast for streaming your iPhone/iPad?

Vishal Chaudhary from New Delhi, India on July 15, 2014:

I am your fan since you resolved my iPad query.

hubsy on July 13, 2014:

Thank you, I have tons of movies on my iPad that I can't access on my TV without some way of connecting them. I knew there was some kind of cable but I didn't know what it was called, thanks!

Hjtomansan on March 23, 2014:

Universally people have been informed that iPad tablet or iPhone will never replace PC notebook NetBoot etc ,do not waste your time trying to figure out more than what the tablets are capable of, commercially many do claim that the iPad can do wonder/s but believe me to do the best pacing you ended to rely on your computer

Luc on January 26, 2014:

Sorry, I had long time not used imageshack... I THINK THIS IS NOW THE GOOD LINK: forum link I mean!


Luc on January 26, 2014:

No one has reply... It seem indeed not possible ... I keep follow the blog Tobias cause who knows pic up this issue. I know the most people this days has plasma or LCD TV but I can't believe that I'm from the prehistory!

Taking with iPhone app.. Hope the photo go open.

Luc on January 12, 2014:


Thanks, it will took some time ... I need search on Internet ... eBay, find good order, meaning free shipping and I need to do this while working. I can reply next weekend and yes I will share cause I am not the only one on this planet with this problem. Note they speak a lot of low view, screen resolution 480i analog of something. Well form to share YouTube, walking on the iPhone "I don't know better!" A film is not so bad. Let hope I get this converter and I will share it on this site.


Tobias (author) from Germany on January 12, 2014:

Yes, that kind of HDMI to composite adapter is needed. Please share your experience how it is working for you.

Luc on January 12, 2014:

Is it this adapter?



Luc on January 12, 2014:

Hi, HDMI/Composite converter? I go yesterday to the shop, explain the situation: the seller said... What you want: convert composite TOO HDMI is not possible. The seller said simply: order new tv in truck and home. Sorry the WEGA SONY with wide CRT screen works as the best. He is big, indeed but that is not big deal. This aside is cleaning CRT much easier than plasma.

Back to the problem. With the 4 S I use APPLE composite AV cable, so I need only connect the RCA yellow - red - and white into the TV and the 30 pin into the iPhone 4S. NOTE: remember what the seller in the shop said: and now I read your words what I not so clear understand full for me. Why? I have on TV only cross-over cables, we call it here in Europe Scart. On the for side of the TV are the Composite inputs. When you find time show me a link or which type of converter. Repeat : TV send out Composite and Scart. Everything ok for iPhone 4S but not for 5S. I have also in house the both Apple digital AV adapters with input HDMI. To today I use only once the 30-pin digital AV on the PC as test. Because I don't need this for the old tv. Today is the story different because apple refuse to send video out into the lightning cable. It most be digital... How I can convert composite and cross-over to digital HDMI.

Long story ... I know... I'm Dutch and not English school educated... Is also the reason I work as driver. Hope everyone forgive this long explanation

Tobias (author) from Germany on January 11, 2014:

@Luc: Yes this would work. Use Lightning to HDMI adapter and then a HDMI / Composite adapter to connect to your truck. It's not an elegant solution but there are not many other options at the moment as Apple is not providing Lightning to Composite adapters at the moment.

Martin on November 13, 2013:

I just got. the Lightning HDMI Adapter and connected my iPad 4 with my TV. But i just get the screen and the Video a.e. Youtube Videos on the tv but NO SoUND. What can i do?

JPSO138 from Cebu, Philippines, International on November 10, 2013:

I have been doing this. I actually use my ipad for presentations along with the projector. Im sure many will benefit from this hub.

James Richton from USA on November 05, 2013:

Thanks for the information. I have been looking at an Apple TV and have been unsure. You convinced me and I'm going to buy one.

Mayank Agrawal from Bangalore on August 08, 2013:

You really choose very interesting topic and also very helpful and unique hub and gives me such a great information. :)

Tobias (author) from Germany on July 13, 2013:

Hi Julien, mirroring should work actually for iPhone 5, iPad and iPad mini to TV with the Lightning adapter: Apple says "The Lightning Digital AV Adapter supports mirroring of what is displayed on your device screen — including apps, presentations, websites, slideshows, and more — to your HDMI-equipped TV, display, projector, or other compatible display in up to 1080p HD." For troubleshooting on mirroring see this page:

Julien on July 12, 2013:

Thanks for the information but it seems that AirPlay Mirroring works only with apple TV, not with the lightning adapter option

Tobias (author) from Germany on June 13, 2013:

Thanks! I felt so motivated and just added an info graphic today (comparison Lightning HDMI Adapter vs. Apple TV solution) :)

Firoz from India on June 10, 2013:

Informative. Voted up and useful.

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