How to connect your MacBook Air to a TV

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Create a larger workspace or share presentations and photos

Connecting your MacBook Air to a TV has several benefits. You can browse the web on a big screen, share presentations or photos, or create a larger workspace. Whatever the reason, you can use different methods to make your MacBook Air and your television.

These instructions should work for any iteration of MacBook Air with a Mini DisplayPort, Thunderbolt port, or Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port.

Before starting

Before you begin, determine what type of ports you have on your TV and MacBook Air.

TV ports

There are several video input standards for television, but the most common are VGA (or RGB) and HDMI.

HDMI supports high-resolution displays and has faster transfer rates, making it more suitable for connecting your MacBook Air to a TV. However, if your TV only has one VGA port, or if it’s the only input available, you can still use it to connect your MacBook Air.

MacBook Air Video Ports

The MacBook Air has gone through several iterations with a variety of video display ports. Your MacBook Air must have one of the following to connect to a TV:

  • A Mini DisplayPort.
  • A port of Thunderbolt.
  • One Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port.

To see what your computer has, select About this Mac under the icon Apple in the upper left corner of your desktop. Click on the tab Support, then select Specifications to open a browser page with a detailed list of your device’s features. Scroll down to the tab Graphics and video support to see details of your display port and the different technologies it supports.

Early MacBook Airs with only a Micro-DVI port will not work with these methods.

What you needed to connect a MacBook Air to a TV

Once you’ve determined which ports you have on your TV and MacBook Air, you’ll need the appropriate adapters and cables. Check the table below to find out what you need.

MacBook Air PortTV portAdapters and cables
Mini DisplayPort / ThunderboltHDMIMini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter, Male to Male HDMI Cable
Mini DisplayPort / ThunderboltVGAMini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter, Male to Male VGA Cable
Thunder USB-CHDMIUSB-C to HDMI cable
Thunder USB-CVGAUSB-C to VGA Adapter, Male to Male VGA Cable

For this demonstration, we’ll be connecting a MacBook Air using a Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter, plugging it into the TV’s HDMI port. Follow the same steps using the appropriate adapters and cables for your installation.

  1. Make sure your TV and MacBook Air are both turned off.
  2. Plug your HDMI cable into an available HDMI port on your TV.
  3. Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to the Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter.
  4. Connect your Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter to your MacBook Air through the Lightning port.
  5. Turn on your TV and put it on the correct HDMI input.
  6. Turn on your MacBook Air and sign in as usual. You should see your screen reflected on the TV immediately.

If your MacBook Air doesn’t reflect on your TV, adjust your laptop’s display settings. Select the icon Apple at the top left of your MacBook Air screen, then click System Preferences > Displays. You should see your TV as a connected display with the option to mirror or adjust as a second display.

Connect a MacBook Air to a TV using Apple TV

An Apple TV is great for streaming content straight to your TV or for streaming content from macOS and iOS products. It is also a great tool to mirror or extend your MacBook Air’s desktop to your TV.

  1. Make sure your Apple TV and MacBook Air are both on and connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  2. Select the icon AirPlay in the menu bar of your MacBook Air.
  3. A drop-down menu will open. Select the name of your Apple TV.
  4. Three more options will appear under the menu AirPlay :
    • Screen integrated in mirror : Matches your ratio and resolution to that of the television.
    • Mirror TV : reconfigures itself according to the ratio and the resolution of your television.
    • Use as a separate screen : treats your TV as an additional screen.
  5. To disconnect your MacBook Air from your TV, select the icon AirPlay on your MacBook Air, then click Disable AirPlay.

You can also press the Menu Apple TV remote control to disconnect the connection.

Google’s Chromecast is a versatile TV dongle that lets you stream video, audio, and more from smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

When a MacBook Air and Chromecast are connected, you can create the Chrome tab on your TV, create a file from your MacBook Air on your TV, or mirror your desktop to your TV.

Audio sharing is not supported when using Chromecast to tab or mirror your desktop to a TV. You can only play audio when you use “Cast file” function to share video or sound file.

Use your Chromecast with the Chrome browser to put tabs on the big screen.

  1. Turn on your TV and make sure it’s set to display your Chromecast.
  2. Turn on your MacBook Air and make sure it’s connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast.
  3. In Chrome, select the icon Chromecast located at the top right of the screen.
  4. A list of available Chromecast devices will be opened. Select the drop-down menu Sources, then theCast tab.
  5. Then select the TV you want to cast on.
  6. Once logged in, you will see a blue circle surrounding a square. To share a different tab than your TV, you must first stop casting the current tab. To do this, select the icon again. Chromecast, and then select the blue circle and the square. Once you have signed out, go to the new tab you want to share and repeat steps 5 and 6.
  7. To sign out of your TV, select the Chromecast tab in Chrome and select the blue circle and square, or just close the browser tab.

You can also use a Chromecast to send your entire screen to a TV. Here is how to do it.

  1. Turn on your TV and make sure it’s set to display your Chromecast.
  2. Turn on your MacBook Air and make sure it’s connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast.
  3. Open Chrome on your MacBook Air.
  4. In Chrome, select the icon Chromecast located at the top right of the screen.
  5. Select Sources, then select Office Cast.
  6. Select the TV you want to cast on.
  7. A popup will appear on your MacBook Air. Select Share to confirm.
  8. To disconnect from your television, click on the tab Chromecast in Chrome, then click on the blue circle and square next to your TV connection.

Transfer a file from MacBook to TV

You don’t have to share your entire screen. You can also launch individual files from your MacBook Air. Here’s what to do.

  1. Turn on your TV and make sure it’s set to display your Chromecast.
  2. Turn on your MacBook Air and make sure it’s connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast.
  3. Open Chrome on your MacBook Air.
  4. In Chrome, select the icon Chromecast located at the top right of the screen.
  5. This will open a list of available Chromecast devices with a tab Sources below. Select Sources, then select Cast file.
  6. Select the TV you want to cast on.
  7. A file picker will open. Choose the video or audio file you want to stream to your TV.
  8. The Chromecast will cast the file to your TV. Audio will also be streamed directly from the TV. You can still control playback through your MacBook Air. If you’re doing a casting for a video, you might see a notification asking if you want to stream the content to TV only. This will improve the quality of reading.
  9. To disconnect from your television, select the tab Chromecast in Chrome, then select the blue circle and the square next to your TV connection.

When using the Cast file, the Video support is limited to MP4 or WebM formats. Audio is limited to WAV or MP3 formats.



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