Tips on how to Join Your Pc to a TV

You'd think connecting a computer to a TV is pretty easy: just take an HDMI cable and tie the two together, right? But what if a PC does not have an HDMI connection? This guide shows how to connect your computer to a TV on three main PC platforms – Windows 10, MacOS and Chrome OS – using a variety of wired and wireless methods.

Windows 10


Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

All modern desktop displays and televisions have HDMI connections. In most cases there is more than one in a plate on the back and / or on the side. Most desktops and a large number of laptops also offer this connection option. This makes them one of the easiest ways to connect your computer to a television – especially when you consider that both video and audio can be processed with just one cable.

Two smaller versions of this interface that are still used today are Mini HDMI and Micro HDMI.

How to set up two monitors in Windows 10Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

To connect the two devices, connect one end of an HDMI cable from plug to plug to a connector on the TV and the other end to a connector on the PC. Windows 10 then recognizes the TV as an external display. This can be checked by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Display Settings from the pop-up menu.

Windows 10 Right-click Display Settings

To display the Windows 10 desktop on a TV, just take the remote control and switch through the connections until the PC's desktop appears.

If the view looks shaky, do the following:

Step 1: Right-click on the desktop and choose Display Settings from the pop-up menu.

Step 2: Select the TV in the diagram. The primary display should appear as "one" and the TV as "two" – or slightly higher if more than two displays are connected.

Change Windows 10 TV resolution

The resolution, orientation and scaling of the initial display can be changed here. Change the update rate if necessary. Here's how:

Step 1: Scroll down and click on Advanced Display Settings while still in the display with the TV selected.

Step 2: In the window that opens, click Display adapter properties for Display # – change the icon to the number provided by the TV.

Change Windows 10 TV update rate

Step 3: In a pop-up window, click the List All Modes button.

Step 4: Select an update rate and click the OK button.


Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Most desktop PCs with dedicated graphics cards have at least one DisplayPort connection, but this is rarely the case on laptops. Some have the modified Mini DisplayPort adapter. Unfortunately, TVs usually don't have DisplayPort connections – they're mostly reserved for desktop monitors.

In this case, a DisplayPort to HDMI male to male cable is required, or you need an adapter with a DisplayPort male and an HDMI female connector end. In both cases, the PC is connected to the TV like an HDMI connection.

Windows 10 should recognize the TV as an external display and offer it as an expanded or double display, depending on your preferences.


HP Specter FolioJeremy Kaplan / Digital Trends

Modern PCs without an HDMI or DisplayPort connection often offer an alternative option in the form of USB-C. Note that not all USB-C ports support video output – it's just an interface that promises no other technology outside of USB 3.2 connectivity. Check the PC's technical specifications before you assume that the USB-C port supports HDMI and DisplayPort output.

WEme USB 3.1 Type C (USB-C & Thunderbolt 3 port compatible) to HDMI Adapter ConverterWEme

In this case, a male-male cable with USB-C on one end and HDMI on the other end is required. A USB-C adapter with a USB-C plug and an HDMI socket end also works.

As with a standard HDMI connection, Windows 10 should recognize the TV as an external display.


Origin EON17 SLX Check the USB connectionsOrigin PC

This port was never really meant to push videos. Unlike DisplayPort and HDMI, third-party DisplayLink drivers are required. This method works best on the blue USB ports (USB 3.0, USB 3.1) shown above due to its speed. However, DisplayLink's system requirements also include older, non-blue USB 2.0 connections that are slower.

Mokai Start USB 3 HDMI adapterMokai start

This method requires an adapter or dock with an HDMI connector, such as the one shown by Mokai Start above. Most install DisplayLink drivers automatically when connected to a PC's USB-A port. However, these drivers may be old and require users to download and install the latest drivers directly from DisplayLink.

When the adapter or dock is connected and the drivers are installed, Windows 10 should recognize the TV. Note that video output performance may vary as the PC depends on third party software.


Leo Watson / Digital Trends

VGA, short for Video Graphics Adapter, was first published in 1987 and only supports analog video signals. It's anything but versatile, but it can be used in some cases. Use a male to male cable with VGA on one end and HDMI on the other end, or use an adapter with a VGA connector and an HDMI female end. Mini-VGA is a smaller variant.

Dell Alienware X51 Gaming Desktop Review HDMILeo Watson / Digital Trends

Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is the next step and is also used in some niche cases. There are seven variants of this interface, including DVI-I Single Link, DVI-I Dual Link, DVI-A, DVI-D Single Link, DVI-D Dual Link, Mini-DVI and Micro-DVI. This makes it difficult to buy the right adapter. Therefore, before purchasing, check the specifications of your PC to determine the correct cable or adapter.


Make sure the TV is compatible, turned on, and set to receive the PC broadcast. On a LG Smart TV with webOS, for example, owners first have to load the Device Connector app and select the PC option, followed by Screen Share and Miracast.

This method does not work at all if one of the devices has a cable connection.

Step 1: Click the notification icon next to the system clock. This will start the Action Center.

Step 2: Click Expand below if only four tiles are visible.

Step 3: Click on the Project tile.

Windows 10 project Miracast

Step 4: From the rollout menu on the right, select Connect to a wireless display.

Step 5: Select the compatible TV from the list.

Step 6: If necessary, follow the instructions on the TV.

Step 7: To end the transfer, click Disconnect on a toolbar at the top of the main PC screen.

Windows 10 Miracast Disconnect

Note that this toolbar contains a gear icon. Click on it to find three optimizations: playing, working and watching videos. With the former, latency is reduced for the optimal frame rate. Watch Videos mode increases latency to reduce buffering while work mode is between them.

To change the send mode:

Step 1: Right-click on the desktop and choose Display Settings from the pop-up menu.

Step 2: The Settings app appears on the screen. Select the TV in the diagram.

Step 3: Scroll down to Multiple Ads and click the down arrow to expand the selection.

Windows 10 Extend DEsktop to TV#

Step 4: Choose a mode: expand the desktop, duplicate the desktop, display it only on the TV, or disconnect.

The resolution, scaling, etc. can be changed like any other display.

Mac OS


MacBook USB-C connectorApple

All modern Macs, from MacBook Air to Mac Pro, use USB-C to connect external devices, regardless of whether it is a peripheral device, an external drive or a display. They are all supported by Thunderbolt 3, which promises up to 40 Gbit / s to process all this data at the same time.

This method requires an adapter or cable to physically connect a Mac to a TV. However, what users buy depends on the actual USB-C port.

The small tree icon next to the connector means that Thunderbolt 3 is not supported, but the DisplayPort video output is being processed. The lightning symbol means that Thunderbolt 3 is included. Unfortunately, these symbols do not always appear on the case. Therefore, check the technical data.

Once the Mac is connected to a TV, MacOS should recognize it as an external display. To change the output mode:

Step 1: Click the System Settings icon in the Dock. Alternatively, you can click the Apple logo in the upper left corner and select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.

Step 2: In the System Settings window, select Show.

MacOS Access display settings

Step 3: Click the Arrangements tab.

Step 4: To mirror the primary display, click the box next to Show Mirror. Otherwise, MacOS uses advanced mode by default.

MacOS Mirror Displays option

Note: Drag the white menu bar icon in the thumbnail of the primary display onto the TV screen to make the latter your primary display.

Mini DisplayPort

Mini DisplayPort connectorKevin Parrish / Digital Trends

This port is on older Macs. As shown above, it is a rounded, box-shaped surface (apart from small angles in the lower left and right corners). Some only offer DisplayPort output, while others also include older Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 connectivity.

As with USB-C, the printed lightning symbol shows Thunderbolt technology. Those without Thunderbolt have a square symbol with a small line on each side.

This method requires a mini-display connection to the HDMI male-male cable or an adapter with a mini-DisplayPort male and an HDMI female end. As soon as MacOS is connected to a television, it recognizes it as an external display.

When in doubt, Apple offers a list of ports that are available on all previous and current Macs.

Apple TV

This is Apple's approach to mirroring or extending MacOS to a TV over a wireless connection. This requires an Apple TV that is already connected to a TV's HDMI port and signed in to an Apple account. This is the only solution for those who don't have a TV that natively supports AirPlay 2.

First activate AirPlay on the Apple TV. Here's how:

Apple TV Settings app

Step 1: Select the gray and silver gear tile on the home screen. This will open the Settings app.

Step 2: In the following screen, select AirPlay and HomeKit.

Activate Apple TV AirPlay

Step 3: Select AirPlay to turn it on if you haven't already. A prompt will ask for a local location and name to identify it on other Apple devices.

Step 4: Select Allow access to configure restrictions, e.g. For example, creating a password and disabling AirPlay access outside of the network.

Allow Apple TV AirPlay access

Now the Mac can connect.

Step 1: Make sure your Mac and TV are connected to the same wireless network.

Step 2: On Mac, click the icon next to the WiFi icon in the menu bar. It resembles a screen with an up arrow at the bottom, as shown below.

Step 3: Select the target Apple TV from the drop-down menu.

MacOS AirPlay on Apple TV

Step 4: Click the AirPlay icon again to switch between two modes: mirror the primary display or use the TV as a desktop extension.

MacOS AirPlay Apple TV change mode

Step 5: To disconnect, click the AirPlay logo again and select Stop AirPlay from the drop-down menu.

AirPlay 2 TV

This is another approach to wirelessly mirroring or expanding MacOS to a TV. AirPlay 2 is integrated directly into these televisions so that you no longer have to buy the expensive set-top box from Apple. At the time of writing, they are only manufactured by LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio.

This method is essentially the same, although switching to AirPlay 2 is different on every TV. For example, on Samsung TVs, go to Settings> General> Apple AirPlay Settings. Once it's done, the TV should appear in the Mac's AirPlay menu.

Chrome OS

As with Windows 10 and MacOS, there are several cable options available to physically connect a Chromebook to a TV. Newer models have HDMI and USB-C connectivity, while other devices may offer older VGA and Mini DisplayPort connections – in some cases even micro-HDMI.

For HDMI, a plug-plug cable or an adapter should be sufficient. For USB-C and all other connections, use a cable with an HDMI plug on one end or an adapter with an HDMI socket on one end.

Once both are connected, the Chrome OS desktop should extend to the connected TV. To change the setting to mirror the desktop instead:

Step 1: Click the system clock in the lower right corner.

Step 2: Click the gear icon in the pop-up menu. This will open the Chrome OS settings.

Step 3: Select the device listed on the left.

Step 4: Choose ads listed on the right.

Rearrange Chrome OS ads

Here you will find all options for each ad. Make sure you select the appropriate tab before making changes:

  • Rearrange the ads by dragging their icons.
  • Check the box next to Mirror integrated display to display the desktop on the TV.
  • Change the scaling of the screen elements.
  • Change the sharpness of text and images (resolution).
  • Change the orientation.
  • Adjust the desktop boundaries on the current screen.

Chrome OS Configure Displays


Chrome OS natively supports Chromecast, Google's cheaper alternative to Apple TV. This guide assumes that a Chromecast is already installed, given a name, and signed in to a Google account.

Note that this method only mirrors the desktop – it does not extend the desktop to a TV.

Step 1: Click the system clock in the lower right corner.

Step 2: In the pop-up menu, click the Cast button.

Chrome OS Choose cast

Step 3: Select the Chromecast device that appears in the menu below.

Step 4: Select the desktop thumbnail in the following pop-up window and click the Share button.

Chrome OS Chromecast Share Entire screen

To end the casting:

Step 1: Click the system clock in the lower right corner.

Step 2: Click Stop at the top of the pop-up menu.

Chrome OS Chromecast Stop Casting

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