How to use your TV as a computer monitor

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How to use your TV as a computer monitor
How to use your TV as a computer monitor

In some cases, you may need to pair your big screen TV to your computer. This solution could apply, among other things, if you had to give a presentation and you did not have a video projector or if you wanted to use your laptop to watch the last movie you just downloaded with your family. Most recent computers allow you to connect them to televisions from the latest generations.


Method 1 of 2: Connect a TV to a Windows PC

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 1

Step 1. Determine how you could connect your TV to your computer

Such a connection between the two devices must be made by means of a video cable. On the back of your computer, you can see a board equipped with multiple connectors and access ports of various shapes. The connectors dedicated to video are generally placed near the USB, audio and network ports, but the device may also be equipped with a graphics card, the accesses of which are located more at the bottom of the device. You will need to look for three types of connectors on your PC.

  • HDMI: it has become the standard for connecting high-definition video equipment and most recent computers are now equipped with this type of connector. This technology allows simultaneous transmission of video and audio signals. HDMI connectors look like elongated USB ports.
  • DVI: this is another digital standard that only transmits video signals. DVI connectors are rectangular in shape and can be seen as three rows of eight pins.
  • VGA: this is the oldest standard, which is still found today and which allowed display screens to be connected to computers. VGA connectors are recognizable by their trapezoidal shape in which are aligned three rows of five pins arranged in staggered rows. If you have a DVI or HDMI connection, it will be preferable to avoid a VGA mode connection. This standard only transmits low or medium definition video signals and the quality of the images produced is generally lower than that obtained using HDMI or DVI techniques.
Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 2

Step 2. Determine how you will be able to connect your TV to your computer

Once you know what types of connectors your computer has, you'll need to determine which ones match the ones your TV has. In most cases, the audio and video access points are generally placed on the back of the television, but they can sometimes be placed on one side of the unit.

  • Many newer TVs may present you with multiple HDMI inputs. The connection of this type of connector is very fast and will not present any difficulty, you will also obtain the best quality of picture and sound. HDMI mode is the only way to transmit both sound and picture over the same cable.
  • Connection by means of DVI connectors is now quite rarely used, but it can still be found on many high definition televisions as well as on more conventional equipment.
  • The VGA standard does not generally apply to high definition televisions, but it can still be found on conventional medium definition televisions.
Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 3

Step 3. Note what is written on the label of the input connector of your TV

This will help you when switching the input corresponding to the signals from your computer.

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 4

Step 4. Obtain the cable corresponding to the connection method you have chosen

Buying a cable can be quite frustrating because many sellers will tend to brag about the superiority of a cable (usually the most expensive) over others, with extensive technical arguments that you can sometimes have a hard time understanding. You will not see any difference between a cable bought 5 or 10 euros and one that can cost up to 80 euros anyway, so it will be better to buy the cheapest of those presented to you. If it does not work, you can always change it without too much cost or have recourse to the commercial guarantee.

If one of the connectors does not match the one on your computer or the one on your television, you will need to purchase an adapter. If your computer has a DVI-type connector and an HDMI-type TV connector, you may need a DVI-to-HDMI cable or adapter. In this case, only the video would be transmitted by the HDMI cable because the DVI standard does not support the transfer of audio signals

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 5

Step 5. Connect your computer to your TV with your cable

If you are making an HDMI to HDMI type connection, you will not need any other cables, but if you are using another method, you will need to add an audio cable.

  • Connect a standard 3.5mm stereo jack to the headphone jack of a laptop computer or as the case may be to the usually green audio output jack which is located on the back of desktops. The end corresponding to the television may end with another 3.5 mm male jack or a set of two RCA connectors (In this case you will need to use a 3.5 mm jack to stereo RCA adapter).
  • If you make a VGA type connection, be sure to turn off your TV first. This precautionary measure, although recommended, is not essential for HDMI or DVI type connections.
Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 6

Step 6. Switch your TV to the correct input

Be sure to select the input on your television to which you have made your connection. Most remote control boxes have a button labeled “Input” or “Source” which will allow you to choose your input channel.

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 7

Step 7. Switch your computer display to the video output you connected your TV to

How to do this will depend on the type of computer you are using.

  • On many laptops, there is a display function key, often identifiable by the drawing of a rectangle with an additional vertical bar on each side, and which should generally be used simultaneously with the "Fn" key. Using this key combination allows you to switch alternately between the four modes supported by the dual-screen system manager of your PC (computer only, TV only, extended desktop or duplicate screens).
  • In Windows 7 and later, you can simultaneously press the “Windows” and “P” keys to open the menu to access the projector menu. You can then select the display mode you want to use (computer only, TV only, extended desktop or duplicate screens).
  • In all versions of Windows, you can right click on the desktop and then select Screen resolution Where Properties. The "Multiple display" menu will allow you to choose between the four different display modes (computer only, TV only, extended desktop or duplicate screens).
Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 8

Step 8. Adjust the display resolution if necessary

The resolution of your computer monitor and that of your TV may be different and this may result in a blurry or out of sync display on your TV when you turn it on. Use the resolutions slider located in the window titled "Display resolution / Properties" until you get a sharp image of the highest definition possible.

Most modern high-resolution televisions offer a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Select the "recommended" resolution if possible

Method 2 of 2: Connect a TV to a Mac

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 9

Step 1. Identify the type of video connector that your Mac has

The video connector equipping a Mac or MacBook can be included between four different types. It is necessary to identify this connector to know which type of connection to use.

  • HDMI: the HDMI port looks like a USB connector, it is longer and thinner with small keys on its upper part. An “HDMI” indication is written above the connector on the PC. This is the most recent standard for connecting high definition display equipment and most Macs or MacBooks manufactured after 2012 are now equipped as standard. HDMI connectors do not need special adapters.
  • Thunderbolt: This is a slightly smaller connector than a USB port. It can be identified by the lightning bolt icon above the connector on the computer case. You will need a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI adapter to connect it to most HDTVs.
  • MiniDisplayPort: This connector looks a lot like a Thunderbolt port. Its logo symbolizes a small box with a line on each side.
  • Micro-DVI: This type of connection is one of the oldest that you will come across. Its icon is the same as that of the MiniDisplayPort, but the connector looks like a small USB port.
Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 10

Step 2. Find the input ports on your TV

They can be located on the back of the device or on one of its sides. The most classic connections are of the HDMI, DVI or VGA type. If you can make a direct HDMI-HDMI connection, you only need one cable to transmit both audio and video signals at the same time. You will need to add a separate audio cable for all other connection modes.

Write down the input ID you will be using to make it easier for you to remember which to switch your TV to when the time is right

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 11

Step 3. Obtain a suitable adapter if necessary

Its model will depend on the types of connectors on your Mac and your TV.

  • You will only need a standard HDMI cable if the two devices to be interconnected have HDMI ports.
  • If your television supports the HDMI standard, but your Mac has a MiniDisplayPort or Thunderbolt type port, you will need to equip yourself with a Thunderbolt to HDMI or MiniDisplayPort to HDMI adapter as appropriate.
Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 12

Step 4. Obtain the appropriate cable

When you have your adapter, you can get the correct cable. If your adapter gives you an HDMI output, purchase an HDMI cable. A cheap HDMI cable will work just as well as a high end one. If you are connecting in DVI or VGA mode, you will need to purchase an audio cable AND a video cable.

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 13

Step 5. Connect your adapter to the Mac

Plug the video adapter into the display output port on your Mac.

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 14

Step 6. Use your video cable to connect your adapter to your TV

Use only an HDMI cable If your computer and TV both have HDMI access.

If at least one of your devices does not have HDMI access, you will need to add an audio cable in order to be able to transmit sound to the television. Use a standard 3.5mm audio jack that you will connect between your computer's headphone jack and your TV's audio input, or a 3.5mm stereo jack to stereo RCA adapter if necessary

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 15

Step 7. Switch your TV to the input your Mac is connected to

Some televisions may have more than one input with the same ports that you will need to choose between. Be sure to select the one on which your computer is connected.

In most cases, your computer's desktop display will be extended to the TV

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 16

Step 8. Click on the Apple menu on your Mac and choose System Preferences

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 17

Step 9. Select the “Screens” option from the system preferences menu

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 18

Step 10. In the tab titled “Display”, select the Automatic external display adjustment option

This will optimize the display resolution of the TV that is connected to your computer.

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 19

Step 11. Click the Screen Layout tab

A window will appear, offering you the possibility to place by dragging the representation of the external screen according to its real position in relation to your computer. This function is intended to allow you to adjust the transition of your PC pointing device cursor between the two active screens.

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 20

Step 12. Drag the white menu bar from your computer screen to your TV screen which will then become your main screen

Use Your TV As a Computer Monitor Step 21

Step 13. Then return to the System Preferences window

Select the option titled Audio, choose HDMI if you have done the interconnection this way. If not, select the output where the audio cable is connected as the sound source.

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