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bobtomay 03-02-2010 10:23 PM

Connecting your Mac to your TV
Just want to know what cables to buy to connect to your HDMI capable TV - see the new thread here.

Regardless of what anyone at Apple or anywhere else tells you - if your Mac has a DVI or mini-DVI port, it does NOT carry audio. Getting a DVI to HDMI adapter/cable is NOT going to somehow "magically" add audio where there is none. You WILL need a separate audio cable.

Where to start:
1) You don't know anything about cables and ports and/or just need some help on what to buy and where to plug it all in - Post #1.
2) You like to try and figure things out for yourself - Post #1 and Post #4.
3) You know you want to connect to HDMI - Post #3.
You just bought a brand new (current model) Mac and want sound from the TV - head to post #4.
4) You already have your equipment connected, but have problems - Post #2.

Please note:

There are several different video output types on the last several years of Macs. These can range from ADC, VGA, mini-VGA, DVI, mini-DVI, micro-DVI and mini displayport.

There are also many types of video connections on TVs/monitors today. These include composite, S-Video, DVI, VGA, component, HDMI and Displayport.

Then there is the matter of getting the sound to the device you want whether that be the TV or a separate stereo or A/V receiver. These connections typically will be RCA, 3.5mm mono or stereo mini-plug, coaxial, or optical inputs.

Therefore, when you ask:

"Hey, I have a Mac and a TV. How do I connect them?"

We have a dilemma. It is not possible to provide a correct answer with that information. Yes, there will be someone pipe up and say buy this, it's what I used. Well, I hope you have the same Mac and the same entertainment system they have.

Bottom line - in order to provide "definitive and specific" recommendations that will work on "your" equipment, you'll have to assist us a little with the following info:

1. What Mac do you have? Personally, I prefer to have the year, model and processor speed. Example: 2008 iMac 2.8, 2006 Mac Mini 2.0, or 2009 MBP 2.6.

2. What TV do you have? This means make and model #. A link to your owners manual (not the spec sheet) would be helpful. But, if you can't find it, still provide your model # and we'll try to work from there.

Providing the ports you have on the TV will only allow for a "best guess", it would not allow us to provide a "definitive and specific" recommendation.

(If you just can't figure out what model you have, you may provide the name of every input port on the back of the TV and we can make a best guess. You should provide the name as they are labeled on the set or post a pic where those labels show up good enough to be read.)

3. Where do you want the sound? On the TV, a stereo, a 5.1 A/V receiver? If you want it someplace other than the TV, you'll need to provide the make and model of that piece of equipment also.

Any cabling recommendations made are in reference to specific hardware. Using those recommendations are at your own risk, particularly when you're following the recommendations based on someone else's hardware. I am pretty good at this, I am not infallible.

For info related to specific connections, you may also see the following:
Connecting to HDMI - post # 3
mini displayport to HDMI adapters that support audio - post # 4
HDMI vs VGA - post # 38
Connecting your mini-DVI or mini displayport to VGA, S-Video or composite - see post # 7 and # 15

If you have the mini displayport on your iMac prior to the Oct. '09 models or a MBP prior to the April '10 models, your Mac does not support audio out through it's video port.

bobtomay 03-02-2010 10:25 PM

ISSUES: There are several issues you may run into once you have connected your Mac to the TV.

1. There is nothing on the screen or the TV is not detected.

First, if you are using a notebook Mac - you need to plug it in to power, not run it off the battery.

A) Make sure you have picked up the TV remote and hit the Input button to change to the port matching the one your Mac is connected to.

B) Once you know the TV is on the correct input and still nothing, disconnect all cables and/or adapters... yes, even if you are certain they're connected and then reconnect them. I can't even begin to tell you how often this does it.

C) Next, open up System Preferences - Displays and click the 'Detect displays' button.
If the external is being detected, there will be 2 separate display windows if you're using a notebook, one for your notebook and a second for the external monitor/TV. The second window could be on the external or it could be hiding - if you only see one window on the screen, move it and see if there is another hiding behind it.

D) If you don't see the 2nd window, put a check on the 'Mirror displays' option.

E) If you are getting the second display window, try some different resolutions to see if you can find one that works. Open up the owners manual for your TV and verify the resolutions it will accept through the port you're using. Most TVs will have a section close to the end of the manual listing the accepted resolutions for each input port.

F) Some TVs have their own proprietary video enhancement stuff like Cinemavision or some such nonsense. Check yours and turn anything like that off.

G) After that, some TVs require that they be turned on related to the computer in a specific order or they do not pass the EDID info properly. You may need to turn on the TV first, then the computer (this is the typical requirement) or vice versa.

H) Next, try a SMC reset - link.

I) Still no picture, the last step is going to be trying a different adapter, cable and/or attaching your Mac to a different TV to determine if you have a bad adapter, cable, port on the Mac or port on the TV.

(You could try DisplayConfigX or SwitchResX to see if adjusting the resolution and frequency per your owner's manual helps. See links in # 2 below.)

****Bottom line, there are some TVs that are not going to display a picture via HDMI from a computer. They just are not passing fully compatible EDID info along. Some Samsung sets are notorious for this. At that point, it's time to move along and go with the VGA connection which almost all TVs still have today.

If you are determined to get your HDMI working, you can grab the DVI Doctor from You can read about it here.****

2. The menu bar and dock are cut off OR I have a black border all the way around the screen

This issue is related to overscan. For a pretty good run down of what overscan is and why it exists you can check out the Wiki. The first couple of paragraphs will give you enough background without getting into all the technical mumbo-jumbo.

The menu bar and dock are cut off:

The best way to deal with this issue is to turn overscan off on your TV. You'll need to open up your Owner's Manual and do some reading. The problem, very few TV sets have this option available from their menu. Some will call it 'Overscan', 'Just Scan', or some variation thereof.

The next is to open up System Preferences - Displays - head for 'Options' on the TV preferences window and uncheck overscan. You will now have a black border around all 4 sides of the screen. If you are lazy like me, you'll live with this.

To fix this, you have two options. You'll need to grab SwitchResX or DisplayConfigX and create a custom resolution for your TV. The how to for this is outside the scope I'm currently prepared to go into at this time. A little searching and you should find some fine tutorials for either one of them. (Besides their own sites, the AVS forum is a great place to start and you might check these - SwitchResX - DisplayConfigX.) For a starting point resolution use 1768x992. This should work for any TV that will accept 1080 input and includes practically all 720p sets.

3. I have a duplicate copy of my desktop or All I have is the background and nothing else.

There are two modes available with your external display, mirroring and extended desktop.

Mirroring does just what it says. It mirrors or provides the exact same desktop on both displays.

Extended Desktop provides a 2nd desktop separate from your primary display. You can drag any apps you wish to use on this display from your primary screen and use one screen for watching a movie and the other for browsing the web.

To change between the 2 modes, open up System Preferences - Displays and then the Appearance tab.

Mirrored Mode
If you want the same thing on both screens, you'll put a check in the 'Mirror displays' box.

Extended Desktop Mode
If you want to make use of the additional screen real estate, you'll uncheck the 'Mirror displays' box to enter Extended Desktop mode.

Once you're in Extended Desktop mode and still in Displays preferences, you'll have a second window that will show you a picture of your 2 displays.
You can move them around to match the way you have your physical displays setup and making it easier to move your cursor from one screen to another.
You'll also notice one of them has a white bar at the top of it. This represents your menu bar. You can drag and drop the menu bar from one screen to the other. Moving it to the external display will make it the primary display whenever it's connected. You do not need to go back in and change it when it's disconnected. Your Mac will know your single display is the primary when the other one is not connected.

4. I'm not getting any sound

Once everything is connected properly, make sure you head to System Preferences - Sound and select the headphone output or for the newer models that support audio via the mini displayport, the device you have it connected to.

To learn which connection you need to use on your TV for audio - See the very next post starting with "Second".

The new mid 2010 Mac Mini is the first Mac with a HDMI port supporting audio out.
Beginning with the late 2009 iMac, the mid 2010 notebooks and Mini, the mini displayport supports audio.

4B. Volume is very low on my exterior speakers.

Realize the headphone jack that you're using for audio out is not a true "line out" jack. What this means to you: you're going to need to turn the volume up on your Mac.

If you have the volume muted or turned all the way down on your Mac, you're not going to get any audio on your external speakers. If you have it turned down too low on your Mac, then you'll have to turn the volume up too high on your external speakers, possibly causing noise and/or distortion.

For my HTPC, I generally keep the volume on my computer set to 75-100%. Then you'll be able to control the volume from your TV or AVR remote much better - without the need of turning it up too high. With some experimentation, you can find the appropriate level to set the volume on your Mac, so that it more closely matches the other devices plugged into your TV/AVR.

bobtomay 03-02-2010 10:25 PM

Connecting a Mac to your HDTV via HDMI.

You need to determine (for sure, not what someone else told you) the type of port you have on your Mac. You can do this at Select the type of your Mac from the first list, then select your specific Mac from the next list. Once on this page, you'll find all sorts of useful info related to the shipping configuration of your machine.

In the specifications section, Click on the "Ports and Connectivity" tab. The first item in the list is "Video (Monitor):" with the video port on your Mac listed.


If you also see this note:

then you can skip the second part and go on down to the section on "Your Mac supports audio via MDP"

If you do not see that "Details" note, then your Mac does not support audio out through the mdp port. You will need to go to the "Second" section.


Where do you want the sound? This is an issue because HDMI carries both audio and video and many TVs are expecting the audio to be carried via the HDMI cable. Currently, only the late 2009 iMac and the mid 2010 MBP models forward carry audio through their mini displayport.

If you plan on running the sound to an A/V receiver - you can start looking for a video adapter/cable.

If you plan on the sound coming from the TV, you have a little more work to do. It's time to open up the Owner's Manual for your TV. Once you have it in hand, you're looking for the "Connections" section. Specifically, you're looking for what almost all manuals will show as connecting DVI to HDMI. Typically, you'll find it in the diagrams.


Some HDTVs will not allow for a separate audio connection with their HDMI ports, particularly during the first two years after the introduction of HDTVs. Some have only one HDMI port that will accept a separate audio connection and some will allow you to use any HDMI port. Some of them will have a little note tucked away that their HDMI may not work with a computer.

The diagram will show you which HDMI port(s) may be used along with the type of audio cable required and where it must be plugged in.

The note in Red above - many of the TVs that allow you to use "any" HDMI port have an audio setting that will need to be changed - from Digital to Analog for the port you're using with your Mac. (Panasonic is one.)

On those HDTVs that do have a separate audio input with HDMI, you will need to verify which audio cable will be required. Most of them use the old standard RCA jacks, while some (notably Samsung uses a stereo mini-plug).

If Your Mac supports audio via MDP

There are a great many mini-displayport to HDMI adapters on the market that do not carry the audio portion of the signal. Please see the following section for a list of the adapters that will carry audio.

bobtomay 03-02-2010 10:26 PM

Adapters and Cables
Identifying the Audio and Video ports on your Mac, TV and audio equipment
Read the "First:" section of Post # 3 above. After you've been to you can check below to visually verify the connection type on your Mac.


RCA jack

stereo 3.5mm mini-plug This is the same as the headphone port on your Mac. Your Mac is a combo port. It is both - a stereo 3.5 mm mini-plug and a mini-toslink (optical) port. (Except for at least some of the MacBook Airs whose port is analog only.)

Optical & Coaxial Optical on the left (aka Toslink), Coax on the right - looks just like the RCA ports except it will be orange.


composite and component video





mini displayport and Thunderbolt


You just bought a new (current model) Mac - your Mac supports audio and video out through these adapters.

The following mini-displayport to HDMI adapters (and one cable) carry audio: - approximate pricing at the time of the last update.

OWC: NewerTech - $15

Monoprice - Finally has one that will pass audio and only <$7

Belkin - $35 from Apple

Kanex iAdapt HDMI v2 - $15 from Amazon when it's in stock - please note the "v2" in the name - if it's not v2, it won't carry audio

Griffin Video Display Converter - $30 from Amazon. This is a dual adapter providing you with the capability of HDMI or a DVI connection.

The Amazon prices do fluctuate a fair amount, so check them all out there.

There have been a few generic adapters ranging in price from $5-$10 including shipping from Amazon that do work. There are a great many more that do not carry audio. The problem, every one and their mother has jumped on the ship with adapters that are listed as carrying the audio that really don't. We have had a couple of them listed that were verified to work, and then the manufacturer of the adapter changes and even the wording of the exact link changed from "Supports Audio" to "Does not carry audio".

Bottom line: You're on your own purchasing one of the cheapie adapters from Amazon - you can no longer rely on the user reviews there either, because reviews were given based on adapters that did carry audio, they ran out and changed to an adapter that doesn't carry audio. Take your chances on saving a few bucks and a possible headache or just buy one of the above adapters that will work.

NyoGoat 03-03-2010 05:49 PM

This is perfect, I was just thinking of posting to ask this question. I have a 3.06 2009 21.5 in iMac, the upgraded model. I need to connect to S-Video or component. I asked at the university bookstore and they told me that apple doesn't make a cable for that connection. Any ideas where I can find one?

mtbinva 03-03-2010 06:15 PM

May I suggest making this a sticky?

bobtomay 03-03-2010 07:26 PM


Originally Posted by NyoGoat (Post 1011148)
This is perfect, I was just thinking of posting to ask this question. I have a 3.06 2009 21.5 in iMac, the upgraded model. I need to connect to S-Video or component. I asked at the university bookstore and they told me that apple doesn't make a cable for that connection. Any ideas where I can find one?

First off, with the mini displayport and the mini-DVI port beginning in late 2008 and early 2009, analog is not so easy any longer.

1A. Early 2009 mini-DVI port to composite or S-Video

Beginning with these models, the mini-DVI to video cable that Apple has been selling will no longer work.
You'll need a converter now in order to use these connections.
First you'll need a mini-DVI to VGA adapter - Apple - monoprice
Then you'll need one of the converters listed in # 2 below.

1B. For every mini displayport to analog connection, you must have:
A mini displayport to VGA adapter. You can grab Apple's or save some money and pick it up from monoprice.
(If you get the Apple adapter, first time you plug it in while connected to the TV, you should run 'Software Update'. Apple released an update for this adapter a few months ago, and I do not know if all the current ones have the new firmware or not.)

Add a VGA cable and you're good to go with any monitor or TV with a VGA port.
For S-Video or composite connection, continue on to section 2.

2. For composite and S-video, you'll need a converter along with the above adapters. A simple adapter will not work. You must have a converter. These were all around $100 when first released. But, have I got a deal for you.
At under $30, head over to monoprice again.
For those that prefer Amazon, the currently best reviewed one is here.

Both of these are powered by USB. I believe both models have a composite cable and the monoprice model includes an S-Video cable.

You cannot use an adapter, such as one of these, instead of a converter. An adapter and a converter are two different items.

See Post # 15 below

3. Just to complete this post for future readers, those interested in a component connection, you will also need a converter. You're not going to get away with $30 though. Don't even bother looking at all those VGA to component cables out there... they will not work on your Mac... nor on most any computer for that matter. I have seen some cheapie converters recently as low as $80, but typically they have been priced in the $150-$250 range.

4. Audio Most folks using these older connections already know what they need. But for those few that are new to the whole concept of connecting your computer to a TV, typically you will need what's called a stereo mini-plug (aka 3.5 mm stereo plug) to RCA cable similar to this one. The small single end plugs into your Mac and the red and white ends will plug into the TV next to the video port you are using.

clayneal 03-03-2010 07:43 PM


Originally Posted by mtbinva (Post 1011165)
May I suggest making this a sticky?

Seconded . You spend an awful lot of time doing this bobtomay , we could just link them to the sticky .


bobtomay 03-03-2010 07:56 PM

That's what I'm hoping to be able to do down the road. In the meanwhile, I'm not answering any more of them except in this thread. When you get up to this many posts, it's next to impossible to find anything. :Angry-Tongue:

At least if they're all here in the same place, I can say "Go back and look at post # 15" instead of trying to find one where I already put what to do with that xyz brand TV.

mtbinva 03-03-2010 08:14 PM

OK, let's see what I'm doing wrong. :)

I have an LG42PG20. I have a mid 2009 MBP 2.66. 500 MB 7200 HD. I'm attempting to connect to it with an HDMI adapter from the mini port. I did this with the MBP plugged in, and I have nothing on the screen.

The TV recognizes "something" on the HDMI channel, but that's it. It seems the MBP see "something" as well, but no image. The audio is via USB.

The VGA worked....I have that adapter as well.

bobtomay 03-03-2010 08:29 PM

That's a first, someone actually provided the link to the owners manual... appreciate that.

After you have made sure you've changed the TV to the correct input:

First thing to do is to unplug everything... adapter(s) and cable and plug them all back in, even if you know the connections are good.

Next thing I'd try would be to use the 'Detect Displays' button in System Preferences - Displays.

Some TVs require that they be turned on in a specific order... this is so that they pass the EDID info properly... usually it's the TV then the computer... have seen others want the computer, then the TV. Personally, I usually connect the cable with both up and running with high success.

Give those a try while I check the manual out.

mtbinva 03-03-2010 08:36 PM


Originally Posted by bobtomay (Post 1011229)
That's a first, someone actually provided the link to the owners manual... appreciate that.

After you have made sure you've change d the TV to the correct input:

First thing to do is to unplug everything... adapter(s) and cable and plug them all back in, even if you know the connections are good.

Next thing I'd try would be to use the 'Detect Displays' button in System Preferences - Displays.

Some TVs require that they be turned on in a specific order... this is so that they pass the EDID info properly... usually it's the TV then the computer... have seen others want the computer, then the TV. Personally, I usually connect the cable with both up and running with high success.

Give those a try while I check the manual out.

Thank you! I also saw with the adapter that the sound has to be set for USB output for the adapter to work properly.

bobtomay 03-03-2010 08:49 PM

If you're getting two windows (one for the TV) when you open up Displays preferences - also try adjusting the resolution - start off at 1360x768.

NyoGoat 03-04-2010 12:19 AM

Thanks for your response. One more quick question, mini dvi is the predecessor to the mini display, would a mini dvi to s-video work?

bobtomay 03-04-2010 05:44 AM


Originally Posted by NyoGoat (Post 1011388)
Thanks for your response. One more quick question, mini dvi is the predecessor to the mini display, would a mini dvi to s-video work?

Apple did make a micro-DVI, mini-DVI & DVI to video adapter which output both composite and S-Video.

The above adapters will work on the Macs that have those ports prior to the early 2009 models. Prior to that time, Macs had analog and digital available at the port on the machine. With the early 2009 models Apple moved to all digital ports.

The technical side is beyond the scope of what I am interested in here. My only interest is in helping folks get what will work. What I have posted above is currently the least expensive way to achieve a composite / S-Video connection from any Mac from early 2009 forward. For those that want more, google and the Wiki are available.

Suffice it to say, the above listed adapters will not work even on the mini-DVI ports with the white MacBook nor the Mac Mini from early 2009 forward. They will also not work with any adapter you can buy in any combination with any Mac that has a mini displayport... period. You must have a converter.

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