In an age when we have big monitors and even bigger TVs that can hook up to your laptop in all kinds of ways, it seems like a waste not to use them to expand your laptop’s display. Here we show you how to connect your laptop to a TV or external monitor.
HDMI (The Obvious One)
The most common way to connect an even remotely modern laptop to an even remotely modern TV is via an HDMI cable. Don’t mess around with weird gold-plated connectors or anything like that. If you’re just looking to output in HD resolution, then any HDMI cable will do, but there are a few extra little things you can consider when looking at HDMI cables.
- If you’re using a Mac, you’ll need a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable or adapter.
- Small-form laptops like the Microsoft Surface Go or Lenovo Chromebook Duet don’t have HDMI ports, so will need a USB-C to HDMI adapter or cable.
Once your laptop is connected to your monitor, in Windows 10 you can use the keyboard shortcut Win + P to select your second screen.
On macOS, press CMD + F2 to mirror your displays. You can also press Option + F2 to bring up display options.
HDMI 2.0 and HDR
HDR, or high-dynamic-range, is a development in screen technology that offers brighter highlights, higher contrast and a wider color gamut.
If your laptop has a GPU inside it that supports HDR, and your monitor or TV supports HDR too (most 4K screens do, but 1080p ones don’t) then with an HDMI cable, you may be able to use HDR mode once your laptop is connected to your screen. However, there are a couple of things to consider:
- Buy an HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 2.1 cable, which will be capable of running a 4K resolution at 60Hz with HDR enabled. Regular (HDMI 1.4) cables will only output 4K at 30Hz.
- Make sure you plug the HDMI 2.0 cable into an HDR-compatible port on your TV. It should be labelled as such.
Once you’ve connected your laptop to your monitor or TV’s HDR-compatible HDMI port, you may need to enable the HDR signal using your TV remote and also enable HDR mode in Windows 10.
To do this, go to “Display settings -> Windows HD Color.” Select the HDR-compatible display under “Choose display,” then click “Use HDR.”
Connect Laptop to Monitor or TV Wirelessly
You probably know already about the joys of streaming from your laptop to your TV, and if you don’t have a smart TV, there are several affordable devices that essentially turn your TV smart, letting you mirror your laptop display to your TV. (Read more in our Fire Stick vs. Roku Stick vs. Chromecast showdown.) In almost all cases, your laptop and TV or streaming device will need to be on the same Wi-Fi network to connect with each other.
Once you’ve connected one of these devices (or if you have a TV with streaming built in, like an Android TV with integrated Chromecast), you can use a browser like Chrome or Edge to cast your browser or entire desktop.
In Chrome, click the three-dotted menu icon at the top right -> Cast, then select what you want to cast.
In Edge, click the three-dotted menu icon -> More tools -> Cast media to device
Certain smart TVs will have a “screen mirroring” option you can use (which Android TVs integrate into the Google Cast options). You should be able to access this setting using your TV remote. (On Samsung Smart TVs, for instance, you’ll find it under Sources.)
If your TV or monitor is Miracast-compatible, it should be quite easy to connect it to a laptop running Windows 10. Make sure that both your laptop and TV are switched on and connected to Wi-Fi, then click the notification button at the bottom-right corner.
After that, click “Project -> Connect to a wireless display” then wait for your Miracast-enabled display to appear as an option.
That about covers it for connecting your laptop to a monitor or TV. For more TV-related tips, see our guide on fixing overscan when using your TV as a monitor. Or if you’re pursuing more tech, see how to install Android TV on Raspberry Pi.