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How to Connect Your Computer to Your HDTV

by Paul Sanders

Woman using her laptop computer and watching TV

Things You Need:

  • Desktop or laptop computer
  • Screwdriver
  • Computer user manual
  • HDTV
  • HDTV user manual
  • Connector cable

If you have ever watched a video or played a video game on your computer, you may have wished you could see it on a larger screen. Maybe you just wished you could use your computer in a more comfortable area, like from your couch. Luckily, computer and HDTV technologies have caught up with you. Most HDTVs are compatible with computers and can be used instead of computer monitors if you have the right video cable. Follow these steps to find out how to use your high-definition television as a display for your computer.

Connecting a Computer to HDTV:

  1. Choose a connector cable type. There are several connector cables for connecting your computer to you HDTV. Check the user manuals or simply look on the back of your HDTV and computer to see which connector cables are used. If you have a video card installed on your computer, you will want to check its connection ports, since it will be handling video output to your HDTV. Because your HDTV is capable of high-definition sound and video, you will probably want to use a high-definition connector cable. If your computer does not have ports for high-definition connector cables or if your HDTV does not have one of these ports, you will need to choose another connector cable type. If your computer does not share any matching connection ports, you may need to purchase a converter cable to connect differing ports. There are several main types:

    • HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) cables carry both HD sound and video in one cable. These are quickly becoming the new industry standard for Blu-ray disc players, video game consoles and home theater systems. Many newer computers, video cards and laptops come with HDMI ports.

    • S-Video (separate video) cables carry standard-definition video but not sound.

    • DVI (digital visual interface) cables carry HD video but not sound.

    • VGA (video graphics array), or RGB cables, carry standard definition video but not sound. This is most likely the type of connector cable your current monitor uses.

  2. Turn off both the HDTV and computer and connect them. Unplug both your HDTV and computer from the wall outlet. Attach your connector cable to the appropriate port on your computer or your computer's video card, and then connect the other end to the port on your HDTV. Plug in both the computer and HDTV and turn them on. It may be helpful to keep your original monitor plugged in so you can adjust settings on your computer if the HDTV display is not functioning. This should be possible if you are using a different cable and port to connect your HDTV than you use for your monitor. Also, if you have a video card installed, you may have more than one display port to connect multiple monitors. Consult your user manual for your computer and video card to learn the settings required for multiple computer displays.

  3. Select the appropriate input. Select the input option on your HDTV that matches the port and connector cable type you are using to connect to the computer. If your HDTV does not display your computer desktop, you may need to adjust the screen resolution or frame-rate in your computer's display menu options. Consult your HDTV user manual to learn the default resolution and frame-rate. Set your computer's display resolution to match. Typically, a 1080p HDTV will use a 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution. Your HDTV may use 60Hz or 120Hz frame-rate. Adjust your computer display settings until the HDTV displays your computer desktop properly.


  1. If you are using a connector cable that doesn't transmit audio, you will need to use different cables for audio. Consult your user manuals to find out which audio ports your computer and HDTV use.

  2. You old mouse and keyboard may not reach as far as you need them to with your computer's new location. You might consider looking for a wireless mouse and keyboard that you can use comfortably from across the room.

  3. Always use caution when working with electronics or electricity. Follow all the safety instructions for electronic equipment and tools that you use.

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