How to Connect Laptops to Televisions

by Jeff Grundy

Modern laptops allow you to surf the Web, listen to music, watch movies and work almost anywhere you go; sometimes, the small laptop screen limits how much you can truly enjoy the notebook or use it in a group setting. You may want to connect your laptop to a television for a large-screen experience when watching a movie, engaging in a 3-D gaming death match or sharing content or photos with a group of people. Modern TVs, adapters and converters support a variety of video connection methods, including those needed to connect your television to most laptop computers.

VGA, DVI and HDMI Connections


Locate the video-out port on the rear of the laptop. Most laptops have either a white DVI port or blue VGA video-out port that you can use to connect an external monitor or television. Some higher-end laptops have an HDMI port for connecting to HDTVs or monitors that support the connection type. Determine the type of connector you have on your laptop and ensure that either your TV has a matching port or you have an adapter to make the connection.


Power off the television and the laptop. Connect the video cable to the appropriate connector on the rear of the laptop. Alternatively, connect an adapter to the video-out port on the laptop first if required. Connect the other end of the video cable to the matching port on the rear of the television. Note the source name for the port on the TV to which you connect the video cable: Video 1, Input 2 or something similar.


Power on the TV first, then the laptop. Use the remote for the TV to select the source name for the port to which you connected the video cable. In most cases, you can just press the Source or Input button a few times until the laptop display appears on the TV.


Log in to Windows with your username and password if prompted. The Windows desktop appears on both the television and laptop screens. If you want to continue to display a mirror image of the laptop screen on the TV, you don’t need to do anything else. However, if you want to extend the Windows desktop and use both screens to display different windows, press the "Windows-P" keys to display the multi-monitor pop-up window and then click the "Extend" option.

Audio Connections


Connect the mini-plug-connector on the 3.5mm-to-RCA adapter cable to the laptop's headphone jack.


Connect the red and white connectors on the adapter cable to the Audio In or Audio 1 ports on the rear or side of the TV. The Audio In or Audio 1 ports are color coded, so just match red to red and white to white.


Connect the RCA plugs on the adapter cable to the "Auxiliary" port on an amp or receiver if you want to route sound to your home stereo speakers instead of the speakers inside the television.

Wi-Fi Video Streaming


Power off the television.


Connect the included HDMI cable to the Wi-Fi video adapter and empty HDMI port on your HDTV. Connect the power adapter to the Wi-Fi video adapter and then plug the power cord into an available electrical outlet.


Power on the TV and use the remote control to select the A/V input or source you use for the HDMI connection to the Wi-Fi video adapter.


Power on the laptop and boot into Windows. Launch the Intel Wireless Display application on the laptop. For some laptops, this may require that you press a key or button near the top of the keyboard. On other notebooks, you must launch the utility from the Quick Launch tray on the Windows taskbar. If you are unsure of how to launch the Intel Wireless Display program, refer the user guide or manual for your Intel-processor-based laptop. After you launch the Intel Wireless Display utility, the device name of the Wi-Fi video adapter appears in the list of detected adapters.


Highlight the name of the Wi-Fi video adapter device, then click the "Connect" button. A four-digit security code appears on the TV screen. Enter the code into the box in the "Enter Security Code" window on the laptop and click "Continue."


Type a descriptive name for the Wi-Fi connection into the Rename Adapter box and click "Continue."


Click "Finished" when prompted to display a mirror image of the laptop screen on the television. Select a video or photo album on your laptop, then open or view it as you normally would.


  • check If your laptop and TV both have an HDMI port, just connect an HDMI cable to both devices. Video and audio from the laptop will stream to the TV without any additional cables or connections.
  • check If you have an older TV that does not support common computer video interfaces such as HDMI, DVI or VGA, you can use a VGA-to-RCA or DVI-to-RCA adapter cable set to make the connection. If your older TV has only a coaxial antenna or cable connection, you must use an RF modulator and a VGA/DVI to RCA adapter cable. To make the connection with an RF modulator, connect the DVI/VGA end of the adapter cable to the laptop, plug the RCA plugs from the adapter cable into the RF modulator and then connect the coaxial cable from the RF modulator to the TV. If you use this type of setup, though, you must route sound to an external amplifier or receiver with attached speakers as you cannot route sound to the TV with this method.


  • close You can convert VGA to DVI and vice versa, DVI to HDMI and HDMI to DVI. You cannot convert VGA to HDMI with a simple adapter, though. To convert from HDMI to VGA or VGA to HDMI, you must use a special converter box. Even if you convert VGA or DVI to HDMI, you cannot use the adapter or converter to route audio over the HDMI cable. HDMI can transmit audio and video signals over a single cable, but not when connected to an adapter or converter.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

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