The MacBook line of computers is easily one of the most-loved out there, thanks to the fact that they’re well-designed, powerful, and reliable. While the MacBook’s display will be more than good enough for watching movies alone, if you want to enjoy things on the big screen, it may be worth it instead of connecting your MacBook laptop to a TV. That, of course, might make you wonder how to connect a MacBook to a TV.
Generally, it’s pretty easy to connect a MacBook to a TV, but the method may vary a little depending on your setup and MacBook model. Here’s everything you need to know.
How to connect a MacBook to TV
If you have a modern MacBook with Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, it’s relatively easy to connect your MacBook to your TV. The easiest way to do so is with a USB-C adapter, such as Cable Matters USB-C to HDMI adapter. With this, you can easily plug an HDMI cable into your computer, after which you can either mirror your MacBook’s display, or use it as a secondary display.
Using an adapter like this won’t sacrifice video quality either. The adapter will support 4K 60Hz video, so you’ll be able to enjoy all your content in stunning detail if you’re using your new 4K TV.
Of course, if you plan on connecting a MacBook to a TV regularly, it might be worth buying a USB-C to HDMI cable instead. This cable plugs directly into your MacBook on one end, and your TV on the other end – doing away with the need for an adapter. Using a cable like this is likely to be a little more reliable than using an adapter, thanks to the fact that there are fewer steps in the process. Cables like this are also compatible with 4K video at a 60Hz refresh rate. You can even find a number of multiport adapters that allow you to connect to an HDMI display at the same time as other devices like USB, Ethernet, and power.
No matter which solution you choose – a USB-C cable or adapter – Cable Matters offers reliable, high-quality USB-C to HDMI products compatible with MacBooks.
Cable Matters USB-C to HDMI Cable
Cable Matters USB-C to HDMI Adapter
How to connect an older MacBook to TV
Perhaps you have an older MacBook model without a USB-C port – and if that’s you, there might be another reason you’re wondering how to connect a MacBook to TV. Thankfully, there are still ways to do so, even with an older device.
If you have a MacBook with an HDMI port, connecting your device to a TV is extremely straightforward – simply buy an HDMI cable, plug one end into your computer, and the other end into your TV.
There are other ways to connect a MacBook to a TV too. Notably, if you have an older MacBook with a Mini DisplayPort / Thunderbolt 2 port, you can easily connect to a TV through an adapter – like this Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable from Cable Matters. The cable has a Mini DisplayPort connector on one end and a HDMI connector on the other end – so you can easily connect to a TV without any hassle.
Cable Matters Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Cable
Using Target Display Mode
Perhaps you don’t want to connect your MacBook to a TV at all – but instead want to connect it to an iMac to use the iMac as a secondary display. Thankfully, it’s very easy to do so, with the right cable.
If you have a MacBook with a Mini DisplayPort and an iMac with a Mini DisplayPort, you’ll simply need a Mini DisplayPort cable to connect the two devices.
If you have a MacBook with a Thunderbolt 2 port and an iMac with a Thunderbolt 2 port, you’ll also simply need a Thunderbolt 2 cable.
It is a bit complicated if you have a MacBook with a Thunderbolt 3 port and an iMac with a Thunderbolt 2 port. In this case, you’ll need a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter to convert from Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 on the Macbook, and then use and a Thunderbolt 2 cable to connect to the iMac.
Last but not least, if you have a MacBook with a Thunderbolt 3 port and an iMac with a Mini DisplayPort, simply use a cable with one Mini DisplayPort connector and one USB-C connector.
To enable Target Display Mode on your iMac, after connecting the appropriate cables, simple press Command-F2. Press Command-F2 again to disable Target Display Mode. If you’re unsure of what type of port your iMac has then Apple has an easy guide to follow.
Apple Cinema display
If you have an Apple Cinema display, it’s relatively easy to connect your MacBook to your display – through the cables and adapters you use will depend on your Cinema display model.
Apple produced three generations of the Apple Cinema display. The first had an older DVI connector, while the second had a Mini DisplayPort connector and the third a Thunderbolt 2 connector.
If you have a Cinema Display with a DVI connector, you’ll need a cable that can convert to a DVI signal, though the exact type of cable will depend on your MacBook model. For example, if you have a MacBook with Thunderbolt 3 ports, this USB-C to DVI cable will do the job.
If you have a second-generation Cinema Display with a Mini DisplayPort, you will instead need an adapter that supports Mini DisplayPort. It’s important to note that a Thunderbolt 2 adapter will not work here, even though Thunderbolt 2 supports Mini DisplayPort. As such, if you have a second-generation Cinema display, you might need a USB-C to Mini DisplayPort cable, or simply a Mini DisplayPort cable for older MacBooks.
Last but not least, if you have an Apple Cinema Display with a Thunderbolt 2 port, a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 cable will do the job with newer MacBooks.