How to attach your laptop or tablet to your TV

Lynn Wright / 08 March 2016

Fancy watching the videos and photos from your iPad, Android tablet or laptop on your TV? Our guide shows you how to connect your laptop or tablet to your TV.



Fed up with crowding around a laptop to view family videos, or playing pass-the-iPad to show photos? 

Wouldn’t it be simpler if you could just connect your laptop or tablet to your TV? 

Great graphics, superior audio and comfy seating makes viewing photos, videos or just using your computer on a bigger screen a more engaging experience.

What is catch-up TV?

Even better, you can use streaming video apps, such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, on your laptop when connected to your TV – transforming your TV into a smart internet-connected TV without the cost.

Connecting a laptop or tablet to a TV is straightforward – either using a cable or a wireless connection.

Connect with a cable

Use a HDMI cable

The simplest and cheapest way to connect your laptop or tablet is using a HDMI cable. Most modern laptops include a HDMI port, as do all TVs from the last five years. 

Simply connect the HDMI cable from the laptop to the TV, press the Source button on the remote control and select the HDMI input source to see your laptop screen on TV.

Tablets often don’t have a HDMI port, but you can buy special HDMI adapters from your tablet maker that connects to the tablet and to the HDMI port on the TV.

Do you need a TV licence to stream programmes and films?

Use a VGA cable

For older laptops only, you can use a VGA cable and a 3.5mm headphone jack cable. Check your TV supports VGA (most do), then connect the VGA cable to your laptop, and connect the 3.5mm audio cable to the headphone jack and the TV. Press Source to switch to the VGA (often called ‘Computer’ or ‘PC’) input source.

Use a USB cable

No luck with HDMI or VGA? You can buy third-party USB-to-HDMI adapters for laptops for around £20 that will also do the trick.

Connect wirelessly

If you don’t fancy running a cable from your laptop to your TV, you can set up a wireless connection using Apple TV or Google Chromecast.

Cable? Satellite? What are the different ways to watch TV?

Use Apple TV

You’ll need to buy an Apple TV (from £60 upwards) that connects to your TV via HDMI, and also connect it and your devices to your home wi-fi network. 

If you’ve an iPad, iPhone or Mac running the latest operating systems, select ‘AirPlay’ from your device and then ‘Apple TV’ to stream a view of your MacBook or iPad’s screen to the TV. 

If running a Windows laptop, you’re limited to streaming video from the iTunes app.

10 handy iPad tips and tricks.

Use Google Chromecast 

You’ll need to buy the Google Chromecast dongle (around £30) that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. 

On your laptop or tablet, download Chrome and the Google Cast extension (get it by selecting Window > Extensions > Get more extensions in Chrome), and ensure everything is connected to your home wi-fi network. 

From within Chrome, click the ‘Google Cast’ button to stream whatever is being showing in the web browser window. You can even stream the entire desktop or tablet screen.

For more tips and useful information, browse our technology articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.