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Guide to Connecting Your MacBook Pro to a HDTV

Updated on January 13, 2015

Learn How to Connect Your Mac to an HDTV

Connecting your MacBook Pro to a TV is perfect for watching Internet shows and movies, playing games, delivering presentations, DJ'ing parties, and more. You might be thinking that this sounds difficult or is going to cost you a lot of money.

Fortunately, connecting your MacBook Pro to a TV is quite easy and cheap! Use this guide to watch an installation demonstration video, and then check out the required parts along with a step-by-step installation guide. Good luck!

Watch the Video: Connecting MacBook to TV via HDMI

Part One: Installation Equipment

Required Parts for Setup

1. You'll need an HDMI Adapter Cable for your MacBook Pro such as the Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter with Audio Support. This adapter allows your MacBook Pro to connect to a HDTV and pass video and audio data to the machine.

2. Second, you'll need a high definition cable to hook your MacBook Pro to an HDTV such as the High-Speed HDMI Cable.

3. Don't forget your MacBook Pro Charger.

4. If you have a MacBook Pro without HDMI audio, you'll also need some computer speakers.

5. An external keyboard and mouse could also come in handy.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mini Displayport AdapterConnect the mini displayport adapter to the mini displayport. Change the settings on the television.
Mini Displayport Adapter
Mini Displayport Adapter
Connect the mini displayport adapter to the mini displayport.
Connect the mini displayport adapter to the mini displayport.
Change the settings on the television.
Change the settings on the television.

Setup Instructions

1. Turn on your MacBook Pro and your TV or external display.

2. Connect the small end of the Mini Displayport Adapter into the mini display port located on the left side of your MacBook Pro.

3. Plug one end of the HDMI Cable into the Mini Displayport adapter, then the other end into your HDTV, monitor, or projector.

4. Switch to the proper video input using your TV's remote.

Tip: At this point, your MacBook Pro and TV should display your Mac OS desktop (or the default Apple Galaxy Wallpaper). If not, then go to System Preferences > Displays and click "Detect Displays" to activate the second screen.

5. Go to System Preferences > Displays and verify that your external display is on the correct resolution (1080p for most HDTVs). Un-check the "Mirror Displays" option if necessary.

Tip: Mac desktop not covering your entire TV screen? Make sure the "Overscan" option is checked!

6. Click on "Arrangement." Then, click on the white bar in the smaller blue display box (your Mac Book's LCD screen) and drag it to the larger blue screen (your external display). This will place the OS X menu bar on your TV screen, essentially making it the primary screen. Close the "Displays" menu.

How to Use MacBook Pro and TV in Single Display Mode (Optional)

By default, the MacBook Pro goes into sleep mode if its lid is closed, thus turning off the signal to your connected TV.

A simple solution to prevent your MacBook Pro from sleeping requires only your MacBook Pro charger, an external keyboard, and mouse. Connect these parts to your MacBook Pro, and then close the laptop's lid. Either hit the space bar on your external keyboard or move your mouse, and your MacBook Pro desktop will display only on your TV.

How to Use Your MacBook Pro on a TV

I connect my 15" Mac Book Pro to my 32" Vizio TV as part of my gaming room.

Need some ideas on what to do with your new setup? Here's six uses for your MacBook Pro while connected to a TV!

  1. Play games in full high definition (if your display and your game support it)
  2. Watch movies fullscreen (DVDs, Netflix, Amazon Instant Videos)
  3. Watch internet TV from Hulu, YouTube, and more
  4. Use media streaming applications such as Boxee
  5. Play iTunes and FrontRow in fullscreen visualizer mode (great for parties!)
  6. Get more screen space for using programs such as Photoshop
  7. Display Powerpoint or Keynote presentations

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my MacBook Pro supports HDMI audio?

Here's Apple's list of MacBook laptops that support HDMI audio as well as video. If your Mac doesn't have HDMI audio capabilities (mine doesn't) then you will need to attach a pair of computer speakers or a digital receiver if you have one.

What if my TV or monitor doesn't support HDMI?

No worries! There are plenty of MacBook Pro Mini Displayport Adapters for VGA or DVI for you to choose from. Be sure to also buy the proper type of display cable as well.

How do I increase MacBook Pro performance?

Under System Preferences > Energy, you have the option to change your MacBook Pro from "Battery Power Saver" to "High Performance." You are welcome to play around with this setting as you may experience some lag. It just depends on the applications you run. Any changes will require you to restart your OS X session.

What do you use your MacBook Pro for when it's connected to a TV?

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Questions or comments? Leave them here!

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    • profile image

      TravelingRae 5 years ago

      I've been thinking about hooking my MBP to a TV and you answered not only all my questions, but also some I think think to ask. :::blessed:::

    • gameronabudget lm profile image
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      gameronabudget lm 5 years ago

      @TravelingRae: Thanks and I'm glad it helped! Be sure shoot this article to any of your mac-using friends :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      many tnx. i love my MBP

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks a lot for expending time to post it. It saved my "game" day :) -

    • gameronabudget lm profile image
      Author

      gameronabudget lm 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Glad I could help!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is the only guide I could find that makes sense. Thank you

    • gameronabudget lm profile image
      Author

      gameronabudget lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I appreciate the comment, thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great job!! Thanks so much for your time and very easy to follow explanation including tips for how to do so cheaply. Much apprecaited:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you thank you!!! So helpful. I didn't know how to set it up through system preferences. Also I'm going to return my $50 stuff from best buy and get it thru amazon! Thanks again!

    • profile image

      TedSue 4 years ago

      This has been of great assistance. I got confused with the connections at first but I managed to get the connections with the HDMI cable and the devices. Thanks a lot!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great help! Thanks man.

    • gameronabudget lm profile image
      Author

      gameronabudget lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Glad this helped and saved you money!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What if my make does not have the mirroring option? Will this still work?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This really helped, thanks so much! :)

    • gameronabudget lm profile image
      Author

      gameronabudget lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Sarah, I know my mirroring options show up once my MacBook Pro is connected to a TV. What model and year is your Mac? If you're unsure, go to the Apple in your toolbar and look under "About This Mac", then "More Info".

    • gameronabudget lm profile image
      Author

      gameronabudget lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This video was right on the money direct and to the point... Thanks.

    • gameronabudget lm profile image
      Author

      gameronabudget lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you Joseph!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hey thanks so much! i was very upset because i thought the adapter wasn't working. nice vid, very very helpful :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      thanks for getting me all hooked up. Quick question though; is it possible to have iTunes playing on my TV (like a second monitor) but still work on my MacBook? If I maximise the iTunes movie on the TV I get a blank screen on my MacBook and if I swipe sideways to get back to a working screen on the MacBook it also swipes the TV so I can still hear the audio but can't see the movie. I just can't figure it out :-S Thanks in advance!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Really helpful, Thanks dude.

    • profile image

      SueJohnston 4 years ago

      I'll be trying to set this up over the weekend and this is just what I was looking for -- thanks for the well written and informative lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Everything worked great. We do have one problem though, our Sony t.v. power cycles and the MacBook Pro loses the picture a few seconds later. Then it starts running correctly again. This happens randomly during our viewing. We were watching a television show from cbs.com and it kept happening. annoying. any ideas?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I plugged in with mini port to hdmi and i get a picture of a galaxy on my tv HELP

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @gameronabudget lm: Hey guys, I just ran threw all of the suggestions and did everything three times through to ensure that I did them correctly. However, I am still not receiving a picture at this time. I have OS Lion 10.7 on a Macbook Pro. Any further suggestions???

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Click system preferences > sound > sound effects tab and then select the hdmi output

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I followed your tutorial and found it really helpful. However, I found out too late that my Macbook model doesn't support audio out over the MDP. I checked this list to realise: hdmiguru.hubpages.com/hub/connect-Macbook-to-TV-HDMI

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Great tutorial. Covered everything!! Thanks

    • profile image

      ida tarbell 2 years ago

      My OS X is version 10.6.8 I bought the Macbook pro in Spring, Texas, in 2011. There is no 1080 under display in my machine. I have system preference. I don't know where to find "Click on arrangement". But I used this machine into a projector in 2013 successfully, with my desktop appearing directly into the projector. Where do I find the 'mirroring option?' The instructions are absolutely worthless to me, and I follow good instructions well.

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      Dennis@wirelesscabletv 23 months ago

      I tried with a Npcs549 from http://wirelesscabletvguide.com/nyrius-aries-npcs5... but that do not work.

      Recently cut the cable cord and this helps me figure out how to connect my computer to tv. Thank you. Cable company doesn't like you but I do!!!!!! It works well .

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