How to Connect a Flat-Screen TV to a Laptop

By Jerel Jacobs

Your laptop computer is designed to be highly portable; as such, screen sizes are often small to save weight. While this is great when you are on the go, at home you may desire a larger viewing screen. If you have a flat panel TV, such as a plasma or LCD, you can connect your laptop to your TV and use it as an external monitor.

Things You'll Need

  • HDMI cable
  • DVI cable
  • VGA cable
  • Optical audio cable (optional)
  • 3.5 mm audio cable (optional)
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse (optional)

Step 1

Use a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) cable. HDMI will provide the highest quality output from your laptop to your flat screen TV. Most laptops manufactured since 2008 have HDMI ports. Locate the HDMI output on your laptop (usually on the side opposite the disk drive) and insert an HDMI cable into the port. The other end of the cable will plug into an open HDMI port on the back of your TV.

Step 2

Use a digital video interface (DVI) cable. Certain older flat-screen TVs have DVI ports instead of HDMI. Nearly every laptop supports DVI output. The DVI port will be either along the side or to the rear of the laptop. Insert a DVI cable into your laptop's DVI port and connect the other end to the DVI input on your flat-screen TV.

Step 3

Use a video graphics array (VGA) cable. This connection will supply the lowest-quality picture output; however, most laptops support VGA, and nearly every flat-screen TV has a VGA connection. The VGA connection is typically located on the side of the laptop opposite the disk drive. Insert one end of a VGA cable into the VGA port on your laptop and the other end into the VGA input on the back of your flat-screen TV.

Step 4

Configure your setup. Windows will automatically detect the external monitor and begin outputting video to the external display in the correct format. However, if fine tuning is needed (rare), enter the "Control Panel" and select "Display." Under the "Advanced Options" tab, you will find controls for adjusting the refresh rate, screen size and other parameters if necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are numerous adapters available if needed, such as HDMI to DVI and DVI to VGA. You can also output audio from your computer to your TV using an optical audio or 3.5 mm audio cable. Consider purchasing a wireless keyboard and mouse.