During the global pandemic of COVID-19, we are watching a lot more TV and movies as we spend more time at home social distancing. You may be tired of watching all of your shoes on your little computer screen. The good news is that it is fairly simple to get your computer screen playing on your TV, whether you want to watch your shows and movies in bigger resolution or see the graphics in your favorite online game on a bigger screen. Perhaps you are working from home and need a bigger screen to read over documents or preview presentations.
Mirroring vs. extending
Mirroring means putting the same content on your laptops screen and the TV, like a mirror. This process is more common and easier than screen extending. Screen extending is where you see different content on both screens, making the TV an extension of your computer screen. Extending is useful for things like having a video playing on one screen while you take notes with your laptop.
Both Windows and macOS will give you options of either mirroring your computer screen to the TV or extending your computer screen while using the TV as a second monitor. In Windows Settings, click System then Display to configure your second screen how you want it. In System Preferences in macOS, choose Displays.
Many of the newer, thin laptops have done away with HDMI ports, so you may need an adapter to convert your laptop’s video to HDMI.
The most simple way for a PC-to-TV connection is by running a wire from your computer to the HDMI input on your television. If you have an older TV and an older laptop, you have options like a VGA. Laptops and PCs have a lot of different connection points, so which wire or adapter you need depends on what computer you are using.
- Full-sized HDMI: Some laptops have a full-sized HDMI output, this will allow you to use a standard HDMI cable to run to your TV. If your laptop does have a full-sized HDMI output, consider yourself lucky because you likely have an old HDMI cable laying around the house somewhere and you can save yourself a trip to the store.
- Mini/Micro HDMI: As the name suggests, these are smaller versions of HDMI. They just need an adapter or a cable with a regular HDMI at one end and they can easily and directly connect to your TV.
- Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort: All of these will work with an HDMI also. Thunderbolt is used mostly for laptop. The older versions of the connector were the same as Mini DisplayPort, so Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI cables or adapters should work perfectly. Newer versions use the same connectors as USB-C.
- USB-C port: Most newer laptops have only this kind of connection. Typically, you will just need an adapter (USB-C to HDMI) for it to work. But, unfortunately, sometimes it won’t work. Check your computer’s specifications to double check what kind of connector or adaptor you need.
Depending on what kind of TV you have, you may be able to skip the wires entirely.
- Apple computer: The easiest way is to use Airplay. But, you will need a device that supports it like Apple TV or a TV that is Airplay 2 compatible.
- Windows PC: For Windows users, there is something called Miracast. Your Windows 10 laptop should have the tech built in. Devices that support Miracast include Roku streamers, several TVs and wireless display adapters that can plug into your TV.
- Google Chromebook: If you have a laptop that runs Google’s Chrome OS, you will need a Chromecast, Chromecast Ultra, Smart TV that has Chromecast built in, Nvidia Shield or a Sony TV that runs Android TV.
If you don’t have a TV with AirPlay or Miracast capabilities, you can still mirror your screen using the Chrome browser on any laptop. Only content on the browser will be visible, however.
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