How to Connect Your Computer to a TV

What’s the point of having a big screen in the middle of the living room if you can’t use it as a PC monitor now and then?
Whether for work or entertainment purposes, hooking up your computer to a TV can make life easier. Playing movies and video games or working on projects with many details, the possibilities are endless.
This process can seem a little daunting if your laptop doesn’t have an HDMI port or the TV is a little old. But what you need to connect your computer to a TV boils down to having a suitable cable or a compatible wireless connection.

Wireless Connections

Connecting a TV to a computer wirelessly is almost always better than using a cable. It’s safer for the devices because chances are, someone is going to trip on that wire. It’s also a lot smoother, especially if you plan on disconnecting and reconnecting them regularly.
That said, it’s essential to know that the reliability of wireless connections largely depends on the strength of the WiFi signal. You might face issues like delay or freezing if your WiFi isn't very strong or the distance between the devices is too big.

Connecting to a Smart TV

Just about every smart TV model out there comes with WiFi network compatibility. They can be connected to a laptop or PC through casting or screen sharing.

For Windows 8 & 10 PCs and Laptops

For this method, both devices need to be connected to the same WiFi network. To connect your specific TV model to a WiFi network, check the user manual or go through the settings menu. You’ll most likely find it under “Network and connection.”
Once you’re done with that, it’s time to connect your laptop.
  1. Press the Windows button + K on your laptop. This will open the “Connect” side panel.
  2. Click on your TV’s name when it shows up on the list of devices. It’ll likely be the brand + model number or the name you set up when you first got the TV.
  3. Once connected, hit the Windows button + P to view projecting options.
  4. Choose “Extend” if you’d like to be able to put different windows on each screen, “Duplicate” if you’d like both screens to show the same thing, or “Second screen only” if you’d like to turn off the PC screen.

For Macbooks

Unfortunately, MacBooks are not as easy to connect to a smart TV without an Apple TV. If that’s not an option, then you might have to experiment with third-party software that works for your specific TV brand. Alternatively, you can just use a wired connection.
If you do have an Apple TV, though, this connection is as easy as a click of a button.
  1. First, make sure your TV and Apple TV are on.
  2. On your Macbook, click on the Apple logo on the upper left corner of your screen.
  3. Open “System Preferences” and find the “Displays” section.
  4. Find your TV in the “AirPlay Display” section.

Connecting to a Non-Smart TV

To connect your computer to a non-smart TV, you’ll most probably need the aid of a media streamer like Chromecast or Apple TV. These are usually USB drive size gadgets that can basically turn your TV into a computer. There are lots of options on the market depending on your budget and what you need your TV to be able to do without your computer connected to it.
How to connect these depends on what brand you choose to go with.

Wired Connection (HDMI)

Cables are simple; there isn’t much you need to do if you have the right cable connection handy. If you don’t, a simple look at the cable ports on your TV and computer will tell you what kind of cables you need to buy.
There are lots of types of cables that can connect the audio, video, or both between a TV and a PC or laptop. Choosing will depend entirely on the model of your TV and computer. In most cases, you’ll find the names or logos of these ports printed next to them so you’d know what to look for.
As a general rule, almost every single TV released since 2002 comes with an HDMI port. It’s the most popular and efficient option since you don’t need to worry about whether the audio will also be connected.
Older TVs and monitors come with a VGA port, which is that blue 15-pin chunk of a port you find in older PCs. This type of cable only transfers video, so you’ll also need to get an audio cable, most probably an AUX or RCA cable.

For Windows 8 or 10 PCs and Laptops

HDMI is the easiest wired way to connect your TV to a computer. Although it comes with the disadvantage of, well, it being a cable, it can actually mean you have a more stable connection.
Instead of tinkering with the laptop settings, using HDMI for this connection will need you to choose a different source through your TV settings.
  1. Connect the HDMI cable to the laptop and TV ports.
  2. Hit the “Source” or “Input” button on your TV remote controller. You might find the word written or a button that has a square with an arrow going through it.
  3. From the list, choose the option that contains the letters HDMI. You might find a list with entries like “input 1, input 2…” You may need to go through each entry on the list.
  4. Your laptop screen should appear automatically once you find the right source on your TV. If not, you could access projecting options by pressing the Windows button + P.


Connecting your computer to a TV is a one-time problem; once you set it up the first time, you won’t have to think about it again. You’ll have the ability to expand your screen’s real estate whenever needed.
You may need to buy a cable or two or spend some more time researching streaming boxes. But once you do, it’s as simple as turning on your devices and pressing play.