What's the best way to connect my MacBook to my TV?

It's easier than you might think to connect an Apple laptop to a TV. With the right cables, or a set-top box, you can get the screen from your Apple MacBook displaying on any television screen in no time.

You can play movies from your laptop on your TV, stream programmes from catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer, or even show off all your photos on a larger display. Many companies now use large-screen televisions in the boardroom instead of projectors, so this is great for those who have to give presentations.

It's straightforward to connect an Apple laptop to a television, but there are a few different techniques to choose from. These can be divided into two main strategies:

  • Use an adaptor and a cable to connect the Apple laptop to a television.
  • Use a set-top box device (such as an Apple TV or Google Chromecast) to mirror the Apple laptop display on a television.

In this feature we'll look at these options in turn, starting with some of the adaptors and cables you can use to hook up your laptop and TV.

See also: How to get US Netflix in the UK | Apple iTV release date

Updated 20 September 2016 with general udpates.

Read next: How to connect an iPhone to a Windows 10 PC

How to connect an Apple MacBook laptop to a TV: USB-C to HDMI Adaptor

When Apple released its 12-inch MacBook in 2015, its set of ports was limited to a 3.5mm headphone jack and a single USB-C connection; gone were all the other connections seen on earlier Apple laptops such as Mini DisplayPort and Thunderbolt.

This means that if you've got a 12-inch MacBook, your options are a little more limited. In order for you to connect your 12-inch MacBook to a TV you'll need an adaptor that has a USB-C to HDMI connection.

Thankfully suitable accessories have been developed by various manufacturers; including Apple, which sells a USB-C to HDMI adaptor for £65.

If you're looking to achieve the same results but not looking to spend quite that much, Choetech has an identical adaptor for around £31.99, it can be found on Amazon US for $34.99. The adaptor can mirror your MacBook at 1080p at 60Hz or UHD (3840x2160) at 30Hz.

(It should be noted that the adaptor can be used to mirror your MacBook and also charge your MacBook, but we were unable to test if the adaptor would be able to charge and mirror to a TV simultaneously.)

Once you have the adaptor, it's as simple as plugging in the adaptor via its USB-C connection to your MacBook, and then using a HDMI cable from the adaptor to your television. You'll need to buy a HDMI cable, which can be found for as little as £5.99, although if you're anything like us you've probably got an HDMI cable lying around the house somewhere.

As noted by Apple, any adaptor will slowly drain the battery of your MacBook, so ensure you don't leave the adaptor plugged in when not in use.

How to connect an Apple MacBook laptop to a TV: Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adaptor

If you have the older MacBook - in other words, one that hasn't got USB-C - you'll need to buy a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor. This plugs into the Thunderbolt socket on the side of a MacBook (MiniDisplay Port and Thunderbolt share the same socket).

For some reason Apple doesn't make a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor, despite making various other cables (such as Lightning to Digital AV and Mini DisplayPort to VGA). But you can pick up this Proxima Direct Mini Displayport to HDMI adaptor. Bear in mind you will also need a HDMI cable. If you don't have one, you can pick up the official Apple HDMI to HDMI cable (£15), or a non-Apple-branded one for a little cheaper at £5.99.

Then all you do is plug the MiniDisplayPort to HDMI adaptor into the Thunderbolt connection on your MacBook, plug the HDMI cable into the adaptor, and finally the HDMI cable into the television.

How to connect an Apple MacBook laptop to a TV: Connect using display mirroring

Mirror Display in Arrangement settings

Once the laptop is connected to your television, you should see the same window on your MacBook displayed on the television. If you don't then you should check that Display Mirroring is turned on.

Open 'System Preferences' and click on 'Displays'. Two windows should appear, one with 'Built-In Display' (that's your MacBook's screen) and a second one for your television. Focus on the second window and click the 'Arrangement' tab. Ensure that a tick is placed in the box marked 'Mirror Displays'. The display should now appear on your television (if it still doesn't, you may need to check the connection and the settings on your television).

How to connect an Apple MacBook laptop to a TV: Connect with a set-top box

You don't have to use a cable to connect an Apple laptop to a television. You can use a set-top box device such as an Apple TV or Google Chromecast to view content from your Apple laptop on a television.

The Apple TV device connects to your television, and to your local network where you can use AirPlay to stream your Apple laptop's desktop to the television. You can do this with ease on OS X El Capitan, where you just have to click the AirPlay icon to play videos or to mirror/extend your display.

Other devices such as Google's Chromecast found for £30 at Maplin, or the Amazon Fire TV Stick starting from £34.99 on Amazon (although you will need to download the relevant app on Fire TV Stick) work in a similar manner. 

See also: Apple TV review | How to watch iPlayer and 4OD on Apple TV | Apple TV vs Google Chromecast UK