Can I Hook Up an Apple TV to My iMac?

By Anne Hirsh

Updated February 09, 2017

Apple TV won't connect directly to your iMac, but they can work together.
i Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

You cannot hook an Apple TV device directly into your iMac, but you can connect an iMac to Apple TV over your home network. The iMac is a full computer, not a TV or monitor, so it does not have the appropriate input jacks to use it as a monitor for the Apple TV. However, certain features of Apple TV require a computer, and an iMac is fine for this purpose.

Hardware and Software Requirements

To use the Apple TV on its own, you need an HDTV with an HDMI input, as well as an HDMI cable and high-speed Internet service. To use your iMac with the Apple TV, you still need those three items, plus the latest version of iTunes installed on your iMac.

Input vs. Output

The Apple TV device connects to your TV through an HDMI cable connection. It includes one HDMI output port. Modern iMacs have no HDMI ports, but even on older models that include HDMI, this port is for output only. Information flows away from output ports and into input ports like the HDMI input on your TV screen. Connecting an output to an output will not work, so you cannot use the iMac as a monitor for your Apple TV.

Connecting Over Networks

Your Apple TV and iMac can connect to your home network wirelessly or through Ethernet ports, which establishes a connection between them. Both devices include Ethernet ports, which offer two-way communication. However, connecting the devices directly to each other by Ethernet cable will not work, as this would not connect you to your home network. Instead, plug both devices into Ethernet ports on your modem or router to get a wired connection. You can also connect both devices to your home network with Wi-Fi.


A wired Ethernet connection between your iMac, your network and your Apple TV will give you the fastest transfer of your iMac's movies and other iTunes media to the Apple TV. If playing media from your iMac to the Apple TV takes a long time, you may need to upgrade your Internet service.