Connecting a Mac or PC laptop to a monitor allows you to show a video stream, website content, or some presentation slides during a team meeting. There are different ways to cast your computer screen onto a larger monitor. For those looking for more AV basics, check out this guide for beginners. Here are your different options. 

Wi-Fi Projection

If you have an Apple TV, you can cast the screen of any Apple device to the monitor connected to the Apple TV, thanks to the AirPlay Mirroring feature over your WiFi connection. Look for the AirPlay Mirroring icon in your MacBook menu bar or access the Screen Mirroring setting in your iPhone or iPad control center.

If you are using a PC, Miracast technology is a simple way to mirror your computer screen over WiFi.

Miracast is a technology that creates a direct connection between two compatible devices. You don't need to have a WiFi network for this to work.

Computers with Windows 10 and Android devices with Android 4.2 or a higher version are compatible with Miracast devices. You will need a streaming device that is Miracast-compatible, such as a Roku or an Amazon Fire TV stick.

The steps to follow depend on the streaming device you are using. You can cast a computer screen to a monitor via your Roku by pressing the Home button on your Roku remote. Access the settings menu, choose display, and you will see the different cast screen options.

Once a Miracast device is connected to your network, you can also cast content directly from your PC, for instance by right-clicking on a video file and selecting the cast to device option.

Chromecast

Chromecast devices are similar to Miracast-compatible devices but don't use the same technology.

You can use a Chromecast device to mirror specific content on a TV screen rather than your entire display. You can, for instance, cast a browser tab to your TV screen.

This is a convenient way to display a YouTube video during a team meeting, but depending on your team's use of projections during meetings, you may require more capabilities than the Chromecast.
 

HDMI connection

Establishing an HDMI connection between your computer and TV is a quick and easy way to mirror your screen that doesn't depend on WiFi. Some older Macs have an HDMI output port while more recent models will have a Mini-DisplayPort.

You can easily find Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adapters to cast your MacBook screen to a monitor. Most PCs have an HDMI output port. All you have to do is connect your computer to your TV monitor with an HDMI cable. This connection supports high-quality audio and video.

If your computer screen isn't mirrored automatically, you will need to follow a few steps to select your TV as your display:

  • If you are using a Mac, look for the System Preferences application. Select displays and arrangements. You can then choose to mirror your screen or select the TV monitor as your primary display.
  • Don't forget to change the sound output. Open the System Preferences application, select sound, and then output. Under type, select HDMI or another connection type if applicable.
  • If you are connecting a PC to a TV screen, right-click on your desktop and choose display settings. You will see a section called multiple displays in the window that opens where you can choose to mirror your screen or set the TV screen as your primary display.
  • If you need to change the audio output, open your control panel. Select hardware and sound, then manage audio devices. Look for the playback tab to choose the change the audio output.

Mini-DisplayPort or Thunderbolt

These are two types of ports that you can find on MacBooks. The early generations of Thunderbolt ports have the same connectors as the Mini-DisplayPorts while the newest Thunderbolt ports use a USB Type-C connector.

You can find Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI or Thunderbolt to HDMI cables. Once the cable is plugged in, you can cast your MacBook screen to your TV display just like you would with a regular HDMI connection.

VGA cable

You might need to use a VGA cable if you are using an older PC or TV. VGA ports use an analog video signal and don't support audio. You can find VGA cable with a built-in RCA connector to carry the audio signal.

You can find HDMI to VGA cables for home entertainment systems, but keep in mind that these cables won't convert the video signal and can't be used to connect a PC to a TV monitor. If you are using a VGA connection, you will need to establish an analog-to-analog connection, either by using two VGA ports or connecting a DVI port to a VGA port.

Cables and adapters

It's important to understand how the different types of ports and connections work:

  • HDMI ports allow you to establish a digital connection. HDMI supports audio, and video signals and this format delivers high-resolution and a frame rate of up to 30 fps. This is the easiest way to connect a computer to a TV, unless you are using a 4K TV and need a format that supports a higher resolution and frame rate.
  • The DisplayPort and MiniDisplayPort format is another type of digital connection. It supports frame rates up to 60fps and carries audio and video signals.
  • DVI or Digital Visual Interface is an older technology. You will find three types of DVI ports. DVI-I ports support analog and digital signals, DVI-D only support digital signals, and DVI-A ports only support analog signals. DVI connections are for audio signals only, which means you will need a separate 3.5 mm jack for your audio connection.
  • VGA ports are used to establish an analog connection and only carry video signals.

A cable designed to connect a digital port to another or an analog port to another adapts to both pin configurations and doesn't transform the signal. On the other end, you would need a converter box to establish an analog-to-digital or digital-to-analog connection.

This isn't recommended because converting the signal can result in a loss of quality or delays.

Connecting a Mac or PC to a monitor should be easier now that you have a better understanding of the different options available to you. Take an inventory of the different ports available on your computer and TV display to determine the easiest way to connect the two devices and don't forget to conduct a few tests before your next team meeting. 

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