Hooking Up an Apple MacBook Pro to a Projector

By Steve Lander

MacBook Pros connect to projectors through adapters.
i George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Apple's MacBook Pro computers pose a challenge for users who want to use them with a projector as these computers don't have standard Video Graphics Adapter, Digital Visual Interface or High Definition Multimedia Interface ports. However, they do have a Thunderbolt port, which supports high speed transfers of digital data, including monitor connections.

Thunderbolt to VGA

The traditional way to connect a MacBook Pro to a projector is over a 15-pin VGA connection. To do this, you need to buy a third party Thunderbolt-to-VGA adapter and connect it to your MacBook's Thunderbolt port. You then run a VGA cable between the 15-pin port on the adapter and then the VGA port on your projector.

Thunderbolt to HDMI

Newer projectors use HDMI connections which are both smaller and lighter than VGA connections. They also carry a digital video signal and support higher resolutions. HDMI even carries audio signals, although your projector will need to support it. Using HDMI to connect your MacBook Pro to a projector is similar to using VGA, except that you will need to use a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI adapter.

Audio Connections

While the MacBook Pro has built-in speakers, you will want to use an external speaker for most presentations. If your projector has a built-in speaker, you can run a 3.5-mm male-to-male audio cable between the headphone jack on your MacBook Pro and the audio input on your projector. Alternately, you can use a 3.5-mm to dual phono plug adapter to connect your MacBook Pro to an audio system with standard analog stereo inputs.

Wireless Projectors

If you present in settings where you have the ability to connect multiple devices to a wireless network, a wireless projector allows you to use your MacBook Pro with a projector without buying adapters or running wires. While most projectors run over Wi-Fi, you can also buy projectors that work over Bluetooth or USB adapters that turn wired projectors into wireless units.