If you've got an iPad or iPhone and you want to connect it to a TV, you've come to the right place. This article has everything you need to know about hooking up an Apple device to a television, and then mirroring or streaming whatever's on the smaller device to the big screen.

This procedure turns out to be very easy; it's also very useful. Even though Apple devices have amazing screens (especially the ultra-large 12.9in iPad Pro), it's often better to play video and photos on the big screen rather than huddle round a smartphone or tablet.

On a related note, we've got a separate tutorial explaining how to connect a MacBook to a TV.

Using a Lightning Digital AV Adapter

Probably the easiest way to hook up an iPad or iPhone to a TV is to buy a Lightning Digital AV Adapter from the Apple Store. At £49/$49 it's not exactly cheap, mind you, and you will also need to supply an HDMI cable. (Apple sells an HDMI cable for £29.95/$29.95, but Amazon offers a far cheaper option: a basics cable for £3.99 or $6.99.)

How to connect an iPad or iPhone to a TV: Apple Lighning AV Adapter

This little box of tricks contains an HDMI port to plug into the TV, a Lightning connector (output) for plugging into your iPad or iPhone, and a bonus Lightning port (input) which gives you the option of charging your iPad or iPhone at the same time.

Using a Lightning Digital AV Adapter couldn't be easier.

  1. Plug one end of an HDMI cable into the adapter's HDMI port, and the other into a spare HDMI port on the back of your TV.
  2. Connect the adapter to the Lightning port on your iPad and iPhone.
  3. Optional: Connect your charger cable to the Lightning port on the Lightning Digital AV Adapter.

Turn on the TV and ensure it's set to display the video input from the HDMI socket. (You generally use the remote to pick from multiple HDMI inputs on your television.) You will see the iPad or iPhone's home screen appear on the television.

It may appear with lower quality and in a box shape. Don't worry: this is just for the Home screen. Things will improve in a minute.

Start playing a video on your iPad or iPhone. Either pick a movie file from the Videos app, or play a clip from Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, or any other video app. The Home screen will vanish from the TV, and the video will play in full definition. On the iPad you will see a screen that says TV Connected.

How to connect an iPad or iPhone to a TV: iPad TV Connected

Now bring up the Control Centre, swipe left and choose Video Output to enable specific content from your iPhone to be sent to your TV just as with the AirPlay TV option below.

Using an Apple TV

The other way to enjoy content from your iPad or iPhone on your TV is to use an Apple TV (available from Apple starting at £149/$149 for the 2015 model, or from £179/$179 for the 2017 4K model) and stream the video via AirPlay.

To do that, connect the Apple TV to your TV via a spare HDMI port and then connect the Apple TV to your wireless network. We have a tutorial explaining how to set up an Apple TV here. Choose the appropriate input on your TV and make sure the Apple TV's home screen appears.

You also need to make sure your smartphone or tablet is connected to the same Wi-Fi network that your Apple TV is on.

  1. Start playing a video on your iPad or iPhone (via the Videos app, Photos app, YouTube, Safari etc).
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Centre. On an iPad running iOS 11, a short swipe up just brings up the dock - you need to keep swiping up until recent apps and the Control Centre (on the right) appear.
  3. In iOS 11, you should tap Screen Mirroring, then select Apple TV. In iOS 10 tap AirPlay, then select Apple TV. How to connect an iPad or iPhone to a TV
  4. Tap outside of Control Centre to remove it and tap Play to continue watching the movie.
  5. Look for the AirPlay icon in apps.

Some apps, such as BBC iPlayer and TED Videos, feature their own AirPlay icon. While playing a video, tap the AirPlay icon and choose Apple TV to start streaming your video.

Sometimes you can't stream video from an app, or the web, on the television. Support for AirPlay is determined by developers, and not all support it (you cannot stream ITV Hub from your iPhone to the Apple TV, for example).

In this instance, you can work around the problem using Mirroring (although that still won't work with ITV Hub - but since ITV Hub is available via the TV app that shouldn't be an issue). With Mirroring selected you can stream the whole of your iPad screen, including the Home screen and whatever is appearing in apps, on the television. Simply swipe up to reveal Control Centre and select the AirPlay option to bring up the AirPlay menu, and select Apple TV.

Viewing video or photos on the TV

To view the photos and videos on your iPhone or iPad on your TV, open the Photos app, then select the Share button. Choose a photo or video you want to show by tapping  so a blue circle with a white tick appears.

Now select AirPlay from the popup menu that appears and choose Apple TV. Your photos will now appear individually on your TV. You can move to the next photo or video by swiping left or right on your iPhone or iPad screen.

You can also set your chosen photos or videos to appear automatically as a slideshow. To do that, bring up the Sharing menu, choose the photos you want to display by tapping them as in the step above, and this time tap Slideshow.

The Slideshow will start playing. If the slideshow is playing on your iPhone or iPad rather than your TV, tap on the AirPlay icon in the top right and choose your Apple TV.

How to connect an iPad or iPhone to a TV

If you'd like some music to accompany your slideshow, tap on Options and choose an option from the dropdown menu beside Music or choose music from your iTunes library.

Playing music on your TV

To play music stored on your iPhone through your TV, choose the track, album or playlist you want to listen to, swipe up to reveal Control Centre again, select AirPlay and then select Apple TV. Bingo! Your favourite tunes are now playing through your TV.

Read next: Alternatives to Apple TV

Apple's Composite AV Cable

If you own an older iPhone or iPad with a 30-pin connector (if it's an iPhone 4s or older, or one of the first three generations of iPad, it'll have a 30-pin connector; the iPhone 5 and later, the iPad 4 and later, all of the iPad Air and iPad mini models and the iPad Pros have Lightning instead), then the Apple Composite AV Cable (£39) is your best option.

It works in a similar way to the Lightning Digital AV Adapter above, except that you'll need to use the composite video input on your TV instead of HDMI, and make sure any videos you want to watch are SD rather than HD.

How to connect iPhone or iPad to TV: Composite AV cable

There is also a 30-pin digital AV adapter available from Amazon currently.

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