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How To Connect A Laptop To A TV

Michael 12-12-2008

connect laptop to tv There are many times when I would like to share pictures, video, or games from my laptop or PC with my friends and family. The problem is that its quite hard to get everyone around a small computer screen let alone keep them interested for very long. Wouldn’t it be much better if you could connect your computer to your TV so everyone could view your media with ease and comfort?


It is indeed a much better solution and can be a lot of fun for everyone. So I will explain everything you need to do in order to connect your laptop or PC to your television.

There are a variety of different ways you can connect your computer to your TV. All will involve the use of different types of cables. Which cable you use will depend on a couple of different factors:

  1. What type of connections your laptop/PC has
  2. What type of connections your television has

The following is a list of the different types of cables/connections you will have to choose from with picture quality ranging from highest to lowest:

  1. HDMI
  2. DVI
  3. VGA
  4. S-Video
  5. Composite/RCA

connect laptop tv

1. “High Definition Multimedia Interface” or HDMI is the highest quality connection now. All HDTVs will have this connection though chances are your laptop or computer will not. If you do happen to have an HDMI connection on your computer then by all means, use this connection. If you do not have HDMI on your computer you can use an adapter to convert HDMI to DVI.


2. DVI stands for “Digital Video Interface” and has pretty much been the standard for connecting computer monitors since about 2003. Your computer will most likely have this connection. HDTVs should also have this connection. If you wish to use audio with a DVI connection you must use a seperate audio cable. A cable from phones output connected to red and white audio in on your TV will work great!

3. VGA or “Video Graphics Array” connections are the most common video connections found on laptops and PC’s. HDTVs may have a VGA connection which means you simply need to connect the cable between your computer and televsion. However, older televisions will not have a VGA connection and will require a PC to television converter. There are USB converters that allow you to use this method. Just like DVI, VGA does not carry a audio signal. Just use the same method from above for connecting audio from your phones output.

4. S-Video or “Super Video” has been around for quite some time now. Some laptops and computer graphics cards will have a S-Video connection. Most televisions will also have a S-Video connection. This isn’t the best quality connection but its also not the lowest quality. S-video has the same audio limitation as the above two examples. Again, just use your phones output and a phones to RCA cable or adapter.

5. Composite connections, sometimes referred to as RCA connections, are the yellow, red, and white connections that most people will be familiar with. Red is right analog audio, and white is left analog audio. Yellow is composite video. This will be the lowest quality connection to use. If your computer has no RCA connections, you can use an RCA to S-Video cable.


Connecting your laptop or PC to your television is pretty simple. Just check both your computer and television to find out what connections they have in common. If by some chance you have no connections matching up, you can always buy adapters to make your connection types match.

Once you’ve passed the stage of physically connecting your computer to your television you’ll have to select the correct input on your TV. Just like when using your DVD player, select the input that your computer is connected to using your remote. This input might be called something like AV1 or AV2.  You should see this on the television screen.

If your picture seems distorted, play around with the pixel settings on your TV or change the resolution. New HDTVs will have a few different resolution settings.  Older TVs may only have one resolution setting.  In this case, adjust your computer resolution until the picture looks good.

Following the steps above will have you sharing media on your TV in no time. There’s nothing better than a 50″ plasma picture frame in the middle of your living room.


Related topics: Online Video, Television.

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  1. mike
    October 13, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    i have a toshiba laptop (unsure of model), and a 1 year old vizio tv (again, unsure of model). i used an hdmi cable to connect the two but all i see is the computer display on the tv, but i can't do anything with it. no cursor on the tv and the tv remote does nothing either. i have no idea whatsoever what to do as i'm what i call "computer illiterate".

  2. aisyah
    July 22, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Does hdmi/vga wire come with laptop ? or we should buy it ?

  3. David
    January 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I have a slot on my laptop that looks like the VGA but mine doesn't have the screws on the sides of it, can you tell me if the VGA is the right wire and if not, what wire do I need :?

  4. Kayleigh Charlesworth
    December 19, 2009 at 9:12 am

    I have found this article through searching on google and was wondering. I had my tv and laptop hooked up perfectly, all I had to do was plug them in, but now, that won't work. What can I do to get it to work again? I go to windows mobility center and it doesn't even recognise that there is anything plugged in. When I plug the HDMI cable into the back of the TV, it registers, but when I plug it into the computer, it isn't even acknowledged, no beep or anything like it used to. The HDMI cable is brand new, never been used, so ruling out it being broken. HELP ME!!!

  5. SHAWN
    November 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Where can i get these cables from and what if i dont have s-video on my compaq presario CQ60?

  6. ali
    October 26, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    i have a laptop which has HDMI technology, i wanna connect to the TV which has the RCA connection port can any one suggest me to carry forward.

  7. Alex
    October 6, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    You may also try this VGAtoVideo Extender Kit which provides you with the quality and results that allow you to send video farther, see images clearer and relay on our proven technology to span long distances (up to 125 feet) by connecting any video source to any screen. This is all done using regular ethernet CAT5 or CAT6 cable.

    - Entertain family and friends by connecting your PC to your big screen TV!
    - Enjoy your favorite downloaded movies
    - Show home videos and photo slide shows

    Here is a simple instructional video on how you can hook everything up:
    [Broken URL Removed]

  8. Bill
    October 3, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Horribly vague and misleading article. DVI can surpass HDMI, and the specification includes an HDMI mode. VGA can match HDMI resolutions. S-Video and Composite connections provide very similar signals—S-Video separates and shields differently, which will reduce interference, but otherwise have no effect on the signal.

    More useful would have been a description of converting between common laptop outputs and common TV inputs. For example, converting from DVI to HDMI is rather inexpensive, but going from VGA to S-Video is expensive.

  9. Sultan
    August 12, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I need help
    i bought 4pin s-video/3RCA cable to connect my laptop to TV.
    but what happens is that only the white works as the composite video not the yellow as it suppose to
    (is this normal or there is something wronge with the cable ??)
    ,and the picture on TV is black and white (unless i connect the other 2end ,the Red and the Yellow as audio)

    the problem is that i will end up with no place for the audio cable (phone output to RCA cable ).

    Am I doing something wrong ???

  10. harry
    April 1, 2009 at 10:38 am

    laptop to TV.I have the right connections.do I need to configure laptop to recognise TV.soar nothing has happended after cable connections made? thanks harry

  11. JS
    March 23, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I seem to not be able to find an answer to this that I like.

    My Laptop is HDMI, my big-screen tv has s-video and rca.

    So HOW does one go from HDMI to RCA cheaply? I am not interested in $300 converter boxes so we can watch some Youtube documentaries together, as nice as that would be. Is there ar "magic cable"that can do this??? Any help is appreciated.

  12. steve
    February 22, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    hey i have a question...i have to vga cord and t connected to my tv and when i try watch movies through windows media player and there is sound but no movie playing...any suggestions.......thanks

    • mike
      May 25, 2009 at 2:01 am

      i connected my laptop to my plasma with vga and all i got was the windows xp and loading screen and then blank,plasma has vga input, what am i doing wrong.

  13. Hana
    January 15, 2009 at 4:48 am

    I was able to connect my laptop to the TV using a VGA cable and it works fine. However, when I try to get the sound to work by using a 3.5mm to 2 RCA audio cable, it fails. I've tried fiddling with the sound settings on the TV, but nothing seems to work. What am I doing wrong?

  14. geraldz
    January 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Questions? Check out PCTVCables.com

  15. Jonathan
    December 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Very useful. Thank u. Is there anyway that I can view tv in my laptop.(other than using a tv tuner card)

  16. Carl
    December 22, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Excellent write-up of all the different ways to connect to TV, but after trying this in the last couple of days, I've found a big flaw(well, for me anyway). I'm trying to connect a mac to my HD TV, and after hooking up a HDMI cable through a dvi adapter, I, like you mentioned, don't have sound. So, I hooked up a rca cable from my headphone jack and, hey presto, I've got sound. However, the problem lies in the fact that I can't have picture and sound together. This is not a computer problem, but a problem with the AV. My TV doesn't allow me to combine video and audio inputs. So, now I can either play a game or watch a DVD without sound from the TV, or listen to itunes without a picture on the TV. It's a bummer because I've just spent $45 on cables. The point I'm trying to make is that people should check what they can do on their TV first before trying to connect.

    Regards, Carl

  17. Ganesh
    December 15, 2008 at 2:36 am

    I had tried connecting to TV with a USB-to-RCA cable. Did not work.

  18. Nathan Mylott
    December 14, 2008 at 1:15 am

    Does anybody know what cable I need to connect my camcorder to my iMac (aluminum 20", intel) and import the videos into iMovie? The Apple support site is confusing and doesn't really clearly say.

  19. fullbug
    December 13, 2008 at 10:19 am

    I dont quite understand how to hook up my RCA/composite cables to my laptop though, I would be using an S video hookup, since my 's' cable port would be used for the picture where would I hook up the RCA cables?

    • Mike
      December 14, 2008 at 7:58 am


      If I understand correctly, you will be using an s-video cable for the video from your laptop. The audio will need to go through the RCA cables. I think you know this much. So, you will need an adapter to convert your headphones plug to stereo RCA(red and white.) You will then plug the RCAs to the television. The other end will plug in to the adapter. Then from the adapter you will run a phones cable to your computers headphones or audio output.

      • fullbug
        December 14, 2008 at 10:34 am

        Thanx for the tips Mike, will give it a shot, thank you....

  20. fullbug
    December 13, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Thanx, just so happened I was looking for info on this subject just yesterday, great article....

  21. picardo
    December 13, 2008 at 12:34 am

    This is very useful. I've been looking to replace my monitor cables for a few days. Now I'll know what I'm doing. Thanks!

    • Mike
      December 13, 2008 at 1:28 am

      Im glad you found it useful Ricardo! Cheers!

    • Fred
      December 17, 2009 at 8:34 am

      He left out a wireless connection.