- If you want to use your Mac computer with a much larger screen, you can connect your Mac to a TV with a cable — or wirelessly, if you have a smart TV.
- Televisions can be used as second (or even third) monitor for a Mac, to help with your work, or with gaming.
- Connecting a Mac to a TV also allows you to enjoy movies, shows, and other media on a much larger scale.
These days, as more and more people are watching their movies and TV shows via a streaming service, the line between computer and television is growing ever more blurred. But even if you’re watching a show via Netflix, chances are your big flat screen TV is going to offer a better viewing experience than the computer you use to go online.
Connecting a Mac to a television allows you access to the world wide web on a much larger screen. Using a TV with a Mac can also give you a second monitor, making work or gaming more productive and enjoyable. And in many cases, you can even connect two external monitors or TVs at once.
To check your Mac’s compatibility with external video hardware, click the Apple logo at the top left of the screen, then hit “About this Mac.” In the popup, hit “Support,” then click “Specifications” on the next window. A webpage will open that has info about your Mac’s external video capabilities; just scroll down until you see “Video Support” and read the info below it.
Note, however, that TVs don’t always make great second monitors, as dedicated computer monitors, which are designed to be viewed up close, usually have much better resolution than a TV.
How to connect a Mac to a TV with a cable
If you have an older Macbook with a Thunderbolt or HDMI output, you can hardwire your Mac to most recent TVs — just note you may need a cable that converts to HDMI if using the Thunderbolt port.
Connect the computer’s output to a video input on the TV, then on your Mac, hit the Apple logo, then “System Preferences,” then click “Displays.” On the next window, make sure “Default for display” is selected, as this will almost always be the best choice.
Most HDTVs can also play audio from a Mac via HDMI cable, so next click the Apple logo, “System Preferences,” then hit “Sound” and select the connected TV. (Older computers and/or TVs may require connecting the two devices via the Mac’s headset jack to an audio input using a second cable.)
How to wirelessly connect a Mac to a smart TV
Newer Macs and Apple TVs make screen mirroring amazingly easy.
Just turn on the TV and Apple TV, then on the Mac, go through the Apple logo, then “System Preferences,” then click “Displays” and select the TV from the “AirPlay Display” taskbar.
To mirror a Mac to other smart TVs without Apple TV, you will need to get a mirroring app designed to work with that TV brand. For Samsung TVs, get the Samsung SmartThing app from the App Store. For a Sony TV, get the AirBeamTV app. A quick Google search can help you find the right app for mirroring your Mac to just about any smart TV.