How to Connect a Laptop to a TV

My TV didn’t have a way to connect to the internet. So I figured out ways on how to connect a laptop to a TV.

I was able to watch streaming video albeit on a really big screen. My system became a full-fledged media center.

What Connection Options are Available on Your Laptop?

This is the first thing you should check when you try to connect a laptop to a TV. There are several connection options available to you.

Check the video ports of your laptop. You will usually find them at the back panel. In some models these ports can be found at the sides.

Types of Ports

VGA Port: A VGA port is usually a blue port. It’s somewhat rectangular shaped that has 3 rows of 5 pins (15 pins total).

You use it to plug your computer to a monitor or a docking station. A VGA port is the most common port available.

S-Video Port: Some laptops have an S-video port. It’s a yellow circular port that has four or seven pins. You can sometimes find a small “s” inscribed beside it.

Composite Video Port: This one looks like a regular jack for your A/V cable. It is round and it is usually yellow. Sometimes there is a small TV symbol beside it.

Newer laptops may not have a composite video port. If yours has one then find the audio port, you’ll need it too.

DVI: It stands for digital video interface. This is a white rectangular block port with three rows of eight pins (24 pins total).

DVI ports are designed for high definition output. There are two types of DVI ports: single link ports and dual link ports.

Single link DVI ports have 18 pins or maybe less (depending on the model). Dual link DVI is the type that has 24 pins.

HDMI: It stands for high definition multimedia interface. It’s quite popular nowadays and it’s used for your HD TV. It looks like a USB port but much thinner.

Connection Options on Your TV

The next step is to inspect your TV and figure out what connection options are available. The idea is to find a matching connection between your two devices.

Standard definition TVs will usually have S-video ports or composite video. The display is good but not as sharp as the one you get from your computer monitor.

High definition TVs will usually have more options available to you. You may find HDMI, VGA, or DVI ports at the back of your unit.

Get the Right Cable and Choose the Best Connection Possible

Get the right cable for the port that matches between both devices. I recommend connecting using the highest quality connection possible.

That means if both your TV and your laptop has HDMI then use an HDMI cable. Remember, the more advanced the connection, the easier it is to set up.

For instance, HDMI already includes audio and video using just one cable. If that’s not available the next option should be DVI, followed by VGA, and finally s-video.

If you end up using s-video, VGA, or DVI, then you need to connect your laptop’s audio to the TV as well. You need a separate cable for that. You don’t need another cable for HDMI connections.

Switch the Display from Laptop to TV

Many laptops have a display function key. You can access it using an Fn key combination. The keystroke combination varies from one laptop model to another.

In some computers it can be Fn + F5 (or some other function key). It’s usually marked with something like a computer screen on the toprow of your keyboard.

Alternatively, you can also use this keystroke: press the Windows key + the letter P. That will bring out the “Project” screen.

You will be given several options like extend the screen, duplicate screen contents etc.Select TV or second screen among the options.


There are several options when you’re figuring how to connect a laptop to a TV. The secret is to match the ports and the cables.

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