MacBooks are loved all over the world, thanks to their performance, design, and reliability. That said, while MacBooks offer great displays, sometimes you’ll prefer to watch movies on a larger screen – and as such, from time to time you may want to connect your MacBook to your TV.

how to connect a MacBook to a TV

There are a few ways you can connect a MacBook and a TV, but depending on the model that you have, how you do so may change a little.

Connecting a MacBook to a TV

If you’ve bought your MacBook new in the past few years, chances are it has either USB-C ports or ThunderBolt 3 ports – in which case, it’s relatively easy to connect your TV to your MacBook. To do this, you’ll need to buy a USB-C adapter, like the Cable Matters USB-C to HDMI adapter. Using this adapter, you can connect your MacBook to a normal HDMI cable – with the other end plugging straight into your TV. Then, you can choose to either mirror the display on your MacBook, or use the TV as a second display.

The adapter supports modern displays, which is always helpful. With the adapter, you’ll get up to 4K 60Hz video, allowing you to enjoy even modern content on your new 4K TV.

The other way to connect a MacBook to your TV is with an actual USB-C to HDMI cable. A cable is probably the way to go if you plan on connecting your MacBook to your TV regularly, instead of just every now and then. By buying a cable, you’ll be able to avoid using an adapter, and the cable will likely be more reliable.

Alternatively, you could use a docking station instead of an adapter – though that might be more recommended for permanent setups.

Connecting a non USB-C MacBook to a TV

If your MacBook is a little older, and it doesn’t have USB-C ports, you should still be able to connect your laptop to your TV. It will be easiest if your older MacBook has an HDMI port, in which case you can simply connect a HDMI cable to your laptop and your TV.

If your MacBook has a Mini DisplayPort or a Thunderbolt 2 port, you can connect your laptop to your TV through another adapter – like a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable.

Target Display Mode

There are other ways to use your MacBook with external displays too. Notably, you can use your iMac as a second display for your MacBook through Target Display Mode. Doing so is fairly easy if you have an iMac and a MacBook with Mini DisplayPorts, all you’ll need is a Mini DisplayPort cable to run between the two. If your MacBook and iMac have Thunderbolt 2 ports, you’ll be able to use a simple Thunderbolt 2 cable instead.

If your MacBook has a Thunderbolt 3 port and your iMac has a Thunderbolt 2 port, you’ll need to get a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, along with a Thunderbolt 2 cable.

Lastly, if your MacBook has a Thunderbolt 3 port, and your iMac has a Mini DisplayPort, you’ll definitely need a cable with a USB-C connector and a Mini DisplayPort connector.

Enabling Target Display Mode on your iMac is done by connecting the right cables, then pressing Command-F2 on your iMac. Press it again to enable Target Display Mode.

Using an Apple Cinema display

Perhaps you’re one of the few that still has an Apple Cinema display, and if so you can connect a MacBook to it too – though how you do so may depend on the display generation.

If your Apple Cinema display has a DVI port, you’ll need cable that has a DVI connector on one end. If your MacBook is newer, for example, you’ll need a USB-C to DVI cable. If your display has a Mini DisplayPort, you’ll instead need a cable with a Mini DisplayPort connector – like a USB-C to Mini DisplayPort cable. You won’t be able to use a Thunderbolt 2 adapter with the Apple Cinema display. If you do have a display with a Thunderbolt 2 port, you can use a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 cable, if your MacBook is newer.