Would you like to connect your Mac to your living room TV to enjoy a movie, show photos to friends and family, or use it as a secondary screen to work? Don’t worry, it’s one of the easiest things in the world! All you have to do is read the instructions below and put them into practice.
In no time you will learn how to connect the Mac to the TV using the cable that best suits your Mac model. In some cases, in addition to the cable you will also have to buy a small adapter to connect to the computer to make it compatible with the HDMI input of the TV, but don’t worry: these are quite cheap components.
If you don’t like having cables littered around the house, you can also stream both your entire Mac desktop and other multimedia content wirelessly to your TV, using some devices designed specifically for the purpose. How do you say? Now have I really intrigued you and you can’t wait to deepen the subject? Well, then read on: you will find everything explained below.
- How to connect Mac to TV with HDMI cable
- USB Type-C / HDMI adapter
- Thunderbolt / HDMI adapter
- Configure the transmission
- How to connect Mac to TV without cable
- How to connect Mac to TV with AirPlay
- How to connect Mac to TV with Chromecast
How to connect Mac to TV with HDMI cable
Do you have a TV with HDMI connectivity and don’t have a clue how to connect it to your Mac? You have nothing to fear: with the use of a good quality HDMI cable (like the ones I recommended in my buying guide ) you can easily put the devices in communication with each other.
In particular, if you have a Mac with a standard HDMI output (e.g. MacBook Pro Retina made between the end of 2013 and 2015), you simply need to connect the computer and the TV together using the appropriate cable.
The video transmission takes place at Full HD or 4K / Ultra HD resolution , depending on the TV in use: to be precise, the maximum supported resolutions are equal to 3840 x 2160 pixels at 30 Hz and 4096 x 2160 pixels at 24 Hz ; however, the latter resolution is not supported by desktop duplication. Audio transmission takes place in 8-channel / 24-bit format at 192 kHz .
If, on the other hand, you have a Mac not belonging to the aforementioned family, equipped only with USB-C ports (all MacBooks produced from 2016 onwards) or with Thunderbolt / Mini DisplayPort output (iMac, MacBook Air and old 13 “MacBook Pro ), you can achieve an equally appreciable result by using some adapters.
USB Type-C / HDMI adapter
Almost all newer MacBooks and some Mac models only have USB Type-C ports and do not have HDMI inputs of any kind. In this case, you can connect the two devices by purchasing a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter , or a USB Type-C HUB that also includes an HDMI port.
Personally, I recommend that you only consider good quality adapters, even better if they are original and / or Apple-certified.
Depending on the TV and adapter used, the resolution of the transmitted content can be Full HD (1080p at 60Hz) or UltraHD / 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels at 30Hz) . To reach this last resolution, the HDMI cable must be version 1.4 or higher . Audio is transmitted in 8ch / 24bit and 192kHz format .
Thunderbolt / HDMI adapter
If you have an iMac or a MacBook Air with only Thunderbolt ports in Mini DisplayPort format, or a 13 “MacBook Pro (the one with DVD burner) with only Mini DisplayPort output, you need to purchase a Thunderbolt / Mini DisplayPort adapter. HDMI , as well as a well-made HDMI cable .
Clearly, to put the devices in communication, it is necessary to connect the adapter to the Mac and to the HDMI cable, and then connect the latter to the TV. Again, the supported resolution depends on the Mac in use, as well as the TV, up to a maximum of 3840 x 2160 pixels at 30 Hz . Audio transmission takes place in 8-channel / 24-bit format at 192 kHz .
Configure the transmission
After physically connecting the two devices via HDMI cable (with or without adapter), turn them on both and set the TV to the appropriate HDMI source , until you see the background of the Mac.
By default, in fact, the television is used as an extension of the desk ; to change this behavior and enable screen duplication instead, open System Preferences , by clicking on the gear symbol on the Dock, click on the Arrangement tab and put the check mark next to the Duplicate monitor item , which resides down.
Still from the same screen, if you have chosen to extend the desk, you can rearrange the screens in the order you prefer (presumably based on their physical position): to do this, you simply need to act on the virtual monitors that reside in the central pane, moving them to the right , or to the left.
To change the resolution or brightness of one of the screens, click on its preview, open the Monitor tab and use the proposed menus and adjustment bars, to apply the adjustments you prefer.
In the event that after setting the duplication of the screen the audio continues to exit the computer and not the TV, open the system preferences of macOS , click on the Sound icon, go to the Output tab and select the name of the TV list of devices available for audio output; you can achieve the same result by clicking on the speaker icon located in the Mac menu bar, if visible.
How to connect Mac to TV without cable
If you can’t bear the idea of having “flying” cables around the house, you can always connect your Mac to the TV without a cable , using some devices suitable for the purpose; for everything to work smoothly, it is essential that the Mac and the device chosen for the transmission of content are connected to the same Wi-Fi network .
How to connect Mac to TV with AirPlay
First of all, you can take advantage of Apple’s proprietary AirPlay 2 system , which allows you to quickly transmit the video stream from a device of the “bitten apple” family (Mac, iPhone or iPad) to a Smart TV compatible with the same technology.
At the time of writing this guide, the TVs compatible with AirPlay 2 are the most recent ones produced by LG , Samsung , Sony and VIZIO : the list is constantly updated on the Apple website ).
If your TV is not compatible with AirPlay technology (information easily verifiable from the sales package), you can fall back on the use of Apple TV , Apple’s multimedia box, equipped with App Store and remote control, which must be connected to an HDMI port free of the TV and allows you to play content from the Internet or other Apple devices. At the time of writing this guide, Apple TV is available in two different editions.
- Apple TV HD: As the name implies, this edition allows you to play content at the maximum resolution of 1080p and has 32 GB of internal memory.
- Apple TV 4K: this is the most advanced version of the Apple box, which allows you to play content in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision and HDR10. It is available in 32GB and 64GB memory sizes.
To transmit content from the Mac to the TV with AirPlay, if you have a device equipped with the AirPlay 2 system, connect it to the Internet and access the dedicated section to configure it; if, on the other hand, you have decided to fall back on Apple TV, connect the box to one of the free HDMI ports on the TV, turn it on (after connecting it to a power outlet) and follow the instructions that appear on the screen to configure it. For further information, please consult the in-depth tutorial I dedicated to Apple TV .
At the end of the configuration, make sure that the Mac is connected to the same wireless network in use for the Smart TV or for the Apple TV and, to transmit the entire screen, click on the multifunction icon in the macOS menu bar (the two levers present near the system clock), press the Duplicate screen button and select the name of your Apple TV , or the compatible Smart TV from the menu that opens.
Later, you can choose whether to use the TV as a separate monitor in extended desktop mode, or to duplicate the integrated monitor ; to adjust the arrangement of the screens, instead follow the same instructions that I gave you in the initial chapter of this guide.
If you do not see the AirPlay icon, you can easily enable it, by going to System Preferences (the icon of the gear that resides on the Dock ), then in the Monitor section and, finally, by placing the check mark next to the item Show options in the menu bar when available .
If necessary, you can also choose to transmit a single content via AirPlay, using one of the applications compatible with the service (eg QuickTime Player or the Safari browser (for multimedia contents), just to mention a couple): all you need to to do, in this case, is to play the content of your interest, locate the AirPlay icon within the program in use, click on it and choose the name of the Smart TV or Apple TV from the list that appears. More info here .
How to connect Mac to TV with Chromecast
One of the cheapest devices that allow you to connect the Mac to the TV is definitely Google’s Chromecast : it is a sort of HDMI key that must be connected to the port of the same name on the TV.
This device, once configured and connected to the Internet, allows the TV to receive streaming content from any computer with the Google Chrome browser installed , including Mac, but also from smartphones and tablets.
At the time of writing this guide, two Chromecast models are commercially available : the basic one , which supports content up to Full HD resolution and costs € 39, and Chromecast with Google TV , which costs € 69.99, supports 4K HDR resolution with Dolby Vision and allows direct app installation and remote control.
Before going on, I think it should be emphasized that the transmission via Chromecast allows you to send a specific Google Chrome card, or the entire Mac desktop, to the TV, the latter only in duplication mode (and not as an extended desktop).
All clear? Very well, let me explain how to use Chromecast: after inserting the dongle into one of the free HDMI ports of the TV and having powered it via USB or electrical socket, you need to configure the device and connect it to a Wi-Fi network, or Ethernet, using the dedicated Google Home app (available for Android , iOS and iPadOS ). For more information on Chromecast configuration , I refer you to reading the guide I dedicated to the topic.
When installation is complete, turn on the Mac , make sure it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network in use on the Chromecast and open the Google Chrome browser . At this point, click on the button (⋮) located at the top right, choose the voice Beam from the menu that is offered to you and wait while the device name Chromecasts appear in the panel appears on the screen.
Once this is done, click on the Sources menu , choose whether to broadcast only the current browser tab, or the entire desktop , then click on the name of the Google device to start broadcasting the contents. That’s all!