How to Hook Up a TV to a Laptop

by Ken Burnside

Laptops are designed for portability, while most television sets are designed with size and image clarity in mind. Hooking up your laptop to a TV lets you use the TV as an external monitor for presentations or to view your stored video content on the big screen. HDTVs have two display adapter types, HDMI -- the most common -- which transports audio and video signals together, and DVI, which only transports video. Laptops may come with DVI, HDMI, MiniDVI, MiniHDMI, DisplayPort or MiniDisplayPort outputs, depending on the make and model. If your laptop does not have the same port type as your television, you need to use the appropriate adapter to connect the two. If your laptop has a DVI port, you also need a 3.5mm audio cable to make the sound play through your TV's speaker system.

HDMI Laptop to HDMI TV Connection

Locate the input ports for your television; if they're roughly trapezoidal, they're probably HDMI. Some ports may be labeled "HDMI."

Check the video output port on your laptop. If it's HDMI too, the ports match.

Plug in the cable to the HDMI port on your laptop, then plug the cable into your television.

Look for the "Display Options" icon on the function keys of your laptop; it usually looks like a pair of stylized monitors side by side. Hold down the "Fn" key on your laptop and press this key at the same time. You can switch from the laptop's display to the TV, or use both at once.

MiniHDMI, DisplayPort or MiniDisplayDisplayPort Laptop to HDMI TV

Locate the input ports for your television and your laptop. If they are not the same kind of connector, you need an adapter for the output port on your laptop that will send the signal to an HDMI cable. MiniHDMI ports look like very small HDMI ports. DisplayPort sockets have a different shape – less wide, and a bit taller – and MiniDisplayPorts look like very small DisplayPort sockets. All three of them have readily available adapters.

Plug the HDMI cable into the television

Connect the adapter to the HDMI cable.

Plug the other end of the adapter into your laptop's video output port.

Look for the "Display Options" icon on the function keys of your laptop; it usually looks like a pair of stylized monitors side by side. Hold down the "Fn" key on your laptop and press this key at the same time. You can switch from the laptop's display to the TV, or use both at once.

DVI Laptop to DVI TV

Connect the DVI cable to the DVI port on the TV. DVI ports are usually white and much larger then HDMI ports.

Connect the other end of the DVI cable to your laptop's DVI port.

Connect a 3.5mm audio cable to your laptop's headphone jack port.

Connect the other end of the 3.5mm audio cable to your TV's audio input port; this is usually labeled "Audio in" or "Mic" and is near the DVI port.

Look for the "Display Options" icon on the function keys of your laptop; it usually looks like a pair of stylized monitors side by side. Hold down the "Fn" key on your laptop and press this key at the same time. You can switch from the laptop's display to the TV, or use both at once.

DVI Laptop to HDMI TV or HDMI Laptop to DVI TV

Connect the DVI cable to the DVI device.

Connect the DVI to HDMI adapter to the DVI cable, and connect the other end to the HDMI device.

Connect a 3.5mm audio cable to the headphones port on the laptop, and connect the other end to the "Audio In" or "Mic" jack on the TV

Look for the "Display Options" icon on the function keys of your laptop; it usually looks like a pair of stylized monitors side by side. Hold down the "Fn" key on your laptop and press this key at the same time. You can switch from the laptop's display to the TV, or use both at once.

Items you will need

  • AV cable that matches the input port on your television
  • Adapter for different cable types
  • 3.5mm audio jack cables

About the Author

Ken Burnside has been writing freelance since 1990, contributing to publications as diverse as "Pyramid" and "Training & Simulations Journal." A Microsoft MVP in Excel, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alaska. He won the Origins Award for Attack Vector: Tactical, a board game about space combat.

Photo Credits

  • Ethan Miller/Getty Images News/Getty Images