Hooking a MacBook Pro to an HDMI Input
By David Weedmark
Updated August 23, 2018
Every MacBook Pro produced since 2008 includes a video port for connecting to an HDMI input, including those on an HDTV or projector. Between 2008 and 2013, Apple made several changes to the MacBook Pro. Some can connect directly to HDMI, while others need an adapter. If you plan to use your MacBook Pro for an important presentation, it's a good idea to test your adapter and go through the display setup options beforehand.
Differences in Models
If you purchased a MacBook Pro in 2012 or 2013, it may have an HDMI port, meaning you can connect it using an HDMI cable without an adapter. All other models produced since 2008 have a Mini DisplayPort which can connect to the HDMI input on an HDTV or other display, provided you use an adapter. It's important to note that MacBook Pro models made from late 2008 to early 2009 do not export audio over HDMI, only video. To export audio on these models, you need to use the MacBook Pro's headphone jack or use its built-in speakers to listen to audio.
Selecting an Adapter
Unless your MacBook Pro has an HDMI port, you need to use a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. Apple doesn't currently manufacture this adapter, but the company offers third-party adapters from Belkin and Griffin on its online store. If you purchase an adapter elsewhere, the adapter must conform to the VESA DisplayPort Dual-Mode Standard; otherwise it may not work correctly, if at all. Adapter cables are generally available in varying lengths, ranging from a couple of inches to 13 feet.
The external display you are connecting to the MacBook Pro will have its own instructions for setup. On an HDTV, for example, you may have to use the input menu to specify which HDMI port you are using. On all Apple computers, you can specify dual screen mode or mirroring from the Displays option in System Preferences. You can also change the screen arrangement if you are using dual screen mode. Although the MacBook Pro should recognize the optimum settings for most HDMI devices, you can change resolution, brightness and color settings if needed from the Displays option in System Preferences as well.
Closed Clamshell Mode
If you want to close a MacBook Pro while it's displaying content to an external monitor, projector or TV with HDMI, you first need to connect an external mouse and keyboard to the computer. This allows the MacBook Pro to go into closed clamshell mode when you close the lid. The external display will temporarily turn blue and then the MacBook Pro screen will be visible again. Without an external mouse and keyboard connected, Apple notebooks go to sleep when you close the lid.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.