There are many situations where you might want to mirror your smartphone or PC display to the giant TV in your living room. It’s a simple way to share photos, or whatever’s on your screen. It can be a presentation you’re about to give or a spreadsheet you need to talk about. There are multiple ways to do this, both wired and wireless.
1. Wirelessly Mirror Media With Chromecast
Chromecast is a little $35 HDMI dongle you can carry around in your pocket. It’s easy to set up and use. Chromecast is the cheapest and the most seamless way to wirelessly mirror your device onto your TV. While it’s usually used to cast media, it also works for screen mirroring for supported devices.
That is, as long as you have an Android device or a Mac and PC running Chrome. The feature is now built into the browser. So from the menu, select Cast to get started. You can mirror a single tab to Chromecast, or your entire screen from your Mac or PC. Because of iOS’s closed nature, there’s no official way of mirroring your entire display to Chromecast.
If you have an Android phone, you can just swipe down on the notification panel and select the Cast button from the quick toggles to get started.
Other than being able to mirror your display, Chromecast can cast media to your TV quite easily. Apps like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Play Music, Pandora, and HBO Go all support Chromecast feature. Just look for the Cast button in the playback screen, select your Chromecast and presto — the media will play on your TV. You can use your mobile device to control the playback.
Buy — Chromecast
2. Mirror Laptop Display Using HDMI
HDMI is still the staple for mirroring the screen when it comes to laptops (although with the latest MacBook Pros, that might just be set to change). HDMI is a single cable that carries both high definition video and audio. It’s a plug and play protocol, which makes it extremely versatile. It’s simple and it works every time.
Get a cheap HDMI cable (this one from AmazonBasics is just $5.99), plug one end to your laptop, another to your TV, select the proper output and input options on both devices and you’re in business. While HDMI is now the default port when it comes to TVs, modern laptops hardly ever carry it. The latest MacBooks have USB-C, the MacBook Air has Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort and so do the Surface devices and latest Windows Ultrabooks.
To make HDMI work with a modern laptop, you’ll probably need to buy an adaptor. Apple has its own USB-C to HDMI adapter. Look for third party adapters on Amazon.
3. Wirelessly Mirror iOS and Mac With AirPlay
If you’re all in on the Apple ecosystem, it makes sense to buy the Apple TV, which makes the process of casting the screen from any Apple device to your TV really easy. The same works for media too. The video player has an AirPlay button built-in across iOS and macOS.
To mirror your display from iOS, open the Control Center and select AirPlay Mirroring. To do this on a Mac, first enable the shortcut for AirPlay Mirroring from System Preferences > Display. Now use the menu bar shortcut to select the Apple TV in the room to stream to.
The current 4th generation Apple TV runs on tvOS and supports apps and games. At $149 for the 32 GB model, Apple TV is significantly more expensive than Chromecast.
Buy — Apple TV
4. Wired Mirroring for iPhone and iPad
If you don’t want to buy the Apple TV for $149, buy a cheaper adaptor instead. iPhone and iPad support mirroring using HDMI via a converter. Apple’s Official Lightning Digital AV Adapter comes in at $49. It has both an HDMI in and a Lightning port so you can charge you device when you’re mirroring it.
Miracast is a wireless casting protocol that does away with the need for a dongle like Chromecast. As long as the support for Miracast is built into both devices, you can wirelessly cast your screen, even without the internet (it uses Wi-Fi Direct protocol).
Devices with Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4 and up support it. Now you just need to make sure your TV does too. This part can be a bit confusing because different manufacturers promote the same Miracast technology under different brand names. For instance, Sony calls it Screen Mirroring, while Samsung calls it AllShare Cast. If you’re looking to buy a new TV, look at supported devices here.
If your device doesn’t support Miracast, you can add the functionality using a dongle like the Roku Streaming Stick or the Fire TV Stick. Microsoft and Belkin also make Miracast dongles for under $60.
While Miracast was hailed as the wireless version of HDMI (one with the same simplicity and versatility as the HDMI without the cables), it hasn’t turned out that way. Getting Miracast to work can sometimes be downright confusing. There’s a lack of clarity when it comes to the feature across different categories of devices. Plus, your device needs to be awake when Miracast is streaming, which can drain a smartphone’s battery fairly quickly.
If both your devices have Miracast support, that’s well and good. But if they don’t, I wouldn’t suggest you go out of your way to make it work using dongles. Chromecast is a much better option.
6. Mirroring on Android
There are a couple of ways for doing this on Android. Modern Android phones that run Lollipop and higher come with multiple mirroring options built in. If your manufacturer has set it up that way, you’ll find a Cast button in the Quick Settings section of the notification panel. Tap it and you’ll see devices with mirroring capabilities that are around you. This can either be a Chromecast or a Miracast device, as discussed above.
The simplest and most reliable way is to use the Chromecast. Swipe down from the top of the screen, tap on Cast, select your Chromecast and you’re in business.
If you want to mirror to an Amazon Fire TV, another Android device, a PC or even an Apple TV, check out Koushik Dutta’s stellar Screen Recording and Mirror app.
What’s the Best Method?
HDMI is still the most reliable way to mirror your screen. If it just has to be wireless, look into Chromecast. While you might have some performance issues, depending on what’s on your screen, it’s perfectly fine for presentations and spreadsheets.
You’ll find other, more obscure, maybe proprietary ways for mirroring your screen. But they won’t work as seamlessly or reliably as the options we’ve listed above.
What do you use screen mirroring for? Share with us in the comments below.
Image Credits: cunaplus/Shutterstock