How to Connect a Mac to a TV with HDMI

If you’re an Apple enthusiast you’ve probably heard of the Apple TV. Using the Apple TV, you can wirelessly connect any of your Apple devices to your television, and easily have a large screen to play video games, carry out your everyday tasks, show a presentation, or anything else you’d want to do. The best part about owning an Apple TV, is that you can extend your device’s display to your television, wirelessly.

Though the Apple TV is an exceptional system to own, there’s no doubt that it’s rather expensive, and may not be accessible to everyone, especially to families that already own a TV, and have no need to purchase a new one, anytime soon. Luckily, you can still connect your Mac computer to your regular television. There’s no need to have an Apple TV in order to mirror your screen onto your television.

Using something called HDMi, which stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface, you can use a cable to connect your Mac to your television. While you may be thinking that it’s quite a hassle to use a cable, it turns out there are actually many benefits to doing so. By using an HDMI cable, you are not only saving money, but also conserving resource usage. You also won’t experience any slowdowns and the video quality you see won’t depend on network latency. The only downside to using HDMi, is the physical cable itself, however, it’s apparent the benefits far outweigh this small inconvenience.

Requirements to Use HDMI on Your Mac

Almost every modern Mac will allow you to use an HDMI cable to connect your computer to your screen, however, there are a few things you need to make sure you have in your possession. Before you get started, check to ensure the following are in your possession,

  • HDTV with HDMI input. Most, if not all, modern televisions support HDMI.
  • HDMI cable. If you don’t already own an HDMI cable, you can purchase one for anywhere between $5-$20.
  • A Mac computer with Mini-DisplayPort, Mini-DVI*, HDMI, or Thunderbolt port.
  • Mini Display Port/Thunderbolt to HDMI Adapter with Audio Support. You’ll need this adapter if your Mac model doesn’t have the HDMI port.

Before purchasing any HDMI cables or adapters, it’s best to make sure that you read reviews, as some cables and adapters work better than others. There have been reports that certain cables and adapters don’t provide high-quality audio.

If you want to stick to a safe brand, look into Monoprice, when purchasing the aforementioned items. Even if you may have to spend a few extra dollars, it will be worth it in the long term. You wouldn’t want to purchase something cheap, that will need to be replaced only after a few months, thereby, causing you to once again spend your money. Please also keep in mind that if you would like to use your Mac from afar, when connecting it to your Mac, then you should look into purchasing a fairly long HDMI cable. Usually 15 feet is sufficient for most users, however, if you have a relatively large room, you may want to purchase a longer cable.

If you own a Mac model that is from 2010 or earlier, then please keep in mind that the Mini-DVI to HDMI adapters don’t provide audio at all, and you’ll have to use a separate audio output option, such as external speakers or a separate audio cable. If you own a Mac from 2011 or onwards, then you won’t have to worry about this.

Connect Your Mac to Your TV Using HDMI and Adapter

Believe it or not, the process to connect your Mac to your TV using HDMI is very easy and straightforward. Depending on the model of your Mac the process may slightly vary, but for the most part is the same. No matter which Mac model you have though, the process can be completed in a matter of moments. In order to get started and see your Mac’s screen on your television, follow the instructions below.

1. If your Mac has an HDMI port you can connect your HDMI cable immediately. The HDMI port will have an HDMI label next to it, so you can easily find the port. If your Mac doesn’t have an HDMI port, then you’ll have to look for the Thunderbolt port. This port will have a small thunderbolt like icon next to it. The location of the video output port will likely be towards the right on MacBook Air’s, towards the left on MacBook Pro’s and on the back of IMac’s and Mac Mini’s.

2. Connect the other side of the HDMI cable to your TV. The port will either be on the side or the back of your TV.

3. Power on your Mac, if it isn’t already on.

4. Change your TV’s Input source to HDMI using your TV’s remote control. The button you need to use, on your TV’s remote control will likely be labeled INPUT or Video Source, or something else of the like.

That’s all you have to do. Your Mac will automatically recognize your TV and will extend its screen onto your TV. If you find that this isn’t occurring, it’s likely you haven’t properly changed the Input source. Many modern TV’s have multiple HDMI ports, and you may have to switch around the input source, using step #4 in order to find the correct one.

If all you want to do is extend your display to your television, then you’ve got the job done, and can end the tutorial here. Yes, that’s right, all you had to do was connect a cable to two ports. It’s that easy. However, if you want to play movies, watch web video or use any playback source from your Mac, then you may want to carry out some extra steps in order to improve your experience.

You may have noticed that audio is being played from your Mac, instead of your television. This can be quite a drag if you planned on watching movies with your friends and family, as the experience will be dulled by the lack of proper sound. Luckily, you can easily change the audio output, and redefine your experience to whole new heights. If you want to play sound through the speakers on your television, and optimize the way to watch videos on the big screen through your Mac, then follow the tutorial and tips below.

Enable Optimal Display on TV via Mac Video Output

Your Mac, as stated above, will use your TV as an external display, which is great for presentations, but not ideal when it comes to playing videos, or watching movies. If you prefer to use HDMI in order to play videos, it’s best to set up Display Mirroring. This is very easy to carry out, and will improve your HDMI experience tenfold. In order to get started, and enable Display Mirroring, follow the instructions below.

Enable Display Mirroring

1. Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen.

Click on System Preferences.

2. Click on System Preferences.

3. Click on Displays.

4. Click on the Arrangements tab. It will be the tab in the center of the window.

5. Towards the bottom left of the window, there will be a checkbox for Mirror Displays. Click on this checkbox in order to enable the option. A check should appear in the checkbox, when the option is enabled.

To be frank, this option will work best when enabled for 720p TV screens. If you own a 1080p TV, you can either lower the screen’s resolution, or simply bear with some pixelated images. Either way, your experience will still overall be much better, than when your TV was just being used as an external display.

Enable Your TV Display to Become the Primary Display

In order to make your TV screen the primary display option, follow the instructions below.

1. Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen.

2. Click on System Preferences.

3. Click on Displays.

4. Click on the Arrangements tab. It will be the tab in the center of the window.

5. You’ll notice a small white menu bar. Please drag this menu bar from the smaller display to the external TV display. This will make your TV the primary screen, when using HDMI.

By carrying out the steps above, the default settings for dual-display will be reversed. Your HDTV will become the main desktop, while your Mac will be the extended desktop.

Adjust Settings to Output Sound from Your TV Instead of Your Mac

If you want to watch movies or play any other sort of video playback, then it’s best to output sound from your TV rather than the small speakers on your Mac. In order to adjust your settings and set your TV as the default method for outputting sound, follow the instructions below.

1. Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen.

2. Click on System Preferences.

Click on Sound

3. Click on Sound.

Click on the Output tab

4. Click on the Output tab.

5. Towards the left there will be a heading labeled Type. Under this heading, find and select the HDMI label.

You have now set sound to be outputted from your TV rather than your Mac. This means you will no longer be able to adjust the volume from your Mac, and instead have to use your TV remote to adjust the volume, the same way you would when watching television.

That’s all there is to it. You’ve now optimized your HDMI experience, and essentially, have a much larger computer, so to speak, that you can use to show presentations, watch movies, carry out everyday tasks, and do whatever else you wish.

Be sure to keep your Mac in a safe location when using HDMI. There have been occasions when users accidentally trip over long HDMI cables, thereby, knocking down their Mac computer on hardwood floors, or other unsafe surfaces. Please keep your Mac in a cushioned area, or be sure to take caution when moving around your room, so as to avoid tripping over the HDMI cable.