Connecting Your MacBook Pro to Your HDTV

Are your trying to figure out how to connect your MacBook Pro to that giant LED / LCD TV in your living room? In this article, I’ll tell you how.

During winter break my daughter and her friends were over the house watching TV and using their MacBook Pros. One of her friends want to show everyone a video on her Mac. My daughter connected that Mac to over TV and everyone enjoyed the videos. What suprised me was that a half dozen kids, were amazed they you could connect a Mac to a TV and had no idea how. So I decided there must be more people that would like to know how to do this.

To start I’ll say there are two ways you can connect your MacBook Pro to a TV; wirelessly or using a cable. In this article I am going to talk about using a cable to do it. Using a cable is simple, cheap, and works well.

To connect your MacBook Airs to your TV, you’ll need to understand a few things. First you’ll need to know what type of ports, or connectors, you have on your Mac. Next you’ll need to know what type of connections your have on your TV, finally you’ll need to buy the right type of cable to connect your Mac to your TV. If you have a comment or question or need some help leave a reply below.

MacBook Pro Ports

First let’s start with your MacBook Pro. My Mac is a 2015 MacBook Pro 15 so I’ll describe the ports on that. Your Mac may be different so you’ll need to figure out which ports you have. On the left hand side of my 2015 MacBook Pro there are five ports. Starting from the back to the front are the MagSafe power connector, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, a USB 3.0 port, and the headphone jack. On the right side starting from back to front are a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, and an SD card slot. Now, whenever you are looking at a MacBook Pro it helps to understand what type or port you have and what type of connector it uses. On my MacBook Pro the two Thunderbolt 2 ports use Mini Display Port connectors.

On my MacBook Pro there are three ports that can be used to connect the Mac to a TV: the HDMI port on the right or either of the two Thunderbolts 2 ports on the left. Your best choice will be the HDMI port but the Thunderbolt 2 connectors will work fine as well.

Your TV Ports

Every modern LCD / LED TV has ports for connecting video. Each model TV has a different number of connectors. I have a six year old Samsung HDTV from Costco. My TV had 4 HDMI ports and a VGA port for connecting video. It also has a bunch of other ports like a cable TV in, USB ports, and Ethernet jack for other functions. The best port to use in one of the HDMI ports. Many TV’s have more than one. Hopefully you have an extra HDMI port that is free. Otherwise you’ll have to unplug what there to use that HDMI port. When you use a free HDMI port you’ll have to use your TV remote to change the HDMI import to use that port. You’ll also need to know how to change your TV’s input back to whatever it was originally set at so you can watch TV again. Using one of the HDMI inputs is your best choice because it will carry both your video and the sound. It’s possible to use the VGA port too but not recommended because you’ll either need another cable to get sound from the TV or settle on using your MacBook Pros speakers.

Choosing Your Cable

Now that you know which connectors you want to use you’ll need the right cable. You’ll need to choose a cable that has the right type of connectors on each end and is compatible. You’ll also want to buy the right length cable. With a cable that is too short you’ll need to leave the MacBook Pro by the TV or balance it somewhere precariously. With a longer cable, you’ll be able to put the MacBook on a coffee table or couch and be able to control it easily. If the cable is unnecessarily too long someone may trip over it and your signal may not be clear.

I also tell people to consider the cable diameter. Ideally you want a thin cable. If its to thick it will be more rigid, less flexible, and harder to work with. It’s also a good idea to consider the source you bought the cable from. A no name cable off eBay might work or could turn out to be unreliable. Finally consider the price. Most retail stores like a BestBuy, Walmart, Target, or Radio Shack sell expensive cables. You can find quality low priced cables online. I recommend Monoprice which is a great company. I have some links below.

My recommendation for connecting your MacBook Pro to your TV is to use a HDMI to HDMI cable. When you use the HDMI cable the audio and sound from your MacBook will also play through the TV as well.

I’d recommend a 6ft to 10ft cable depending on how far you want to locate your MacBook Pro from the TV. If you don’t want to use the HDMI port on your Mac. You can use a MiniDisplay Port to HDMI cable, but they are a little more expensive. My TV supports 1080p or HD video. If your TV supports 4K, make sure to buy a cable that supports 4K.

Now in some cases it possible to use an adapter or dongle with a cable you already own to connect your Mac. So for example I could use a ThunderBolt / MiniDisplay Port to HDMI adapter to connect my Mac to the TV but would also need an HDMI cable.

Connecting Your MacBook Pro to Your TV

Once you have your HDMI cable connect one end to your MacBook Pro and the other to your TV. Set your TV’s input use that HDMI port. Your MacBook should recognize your TV as a second monitor. You may need to go into System Preferences to adjust the sound and choose whether to use the TV to mirror your MacBook’s display or as a second monitor.

Monoprice Cables

I recommend Monoprice cables because they are both high quality and affordable. You can buy Monoprice cables directly from or through Amazon. I recommend you check the price both places before buying. Amazon is usually more expensive, but Monoprice charges for shipping. I usually buy several items from Monoprice when ordering so it was better to order directly from Monoprice for me.


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