How to Use a TV as a Computer Monitor

By Techwalla Computers Editor

The worlds of computers and television are merging, so it makes sense to try to run your computer using your television as a monitor. Most standard definition televisions are not going to give you the visual quality of a computer monitor, but can be a suitable alternative or extra monitor. Scalable high definition TVs may actually provide an even better alternative to your computer monitor. Connecting your computer to your TV requires knowing what your computer is capable of running for video.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Television screen
  • Cable or adapter for necessary video input/output

Step 1

Check the video outputs for your computer. Most computers have VGA outputs; some offer other options such as S-Video, or on high definition computers you might find DVI or HDMI.

Step 2

Find the inputs on your television. Most older televisions have coaxial and maybe composite or S-Video inputs. Enhanced definition TVs and high definition TVs often have several inputs which are often VGA, DVI, component or HDMI.

Step 3

Locate the necessary cable or adapter. If your computer and TV have the same output and input, then you just need the necessary cable. If not, you have to find an adapter. There isn't always a suitable adapter.

Step 4

Connect the computer to the TV and test it out. You may find that the quality is poor compared to what you are used to on a computer monitor. TVs are designed with different specifications than computer monitors and many can only support a resolution of 640x480. Several high definition TVs support higher resolutions.

Step 5

Look for a monitor that can support use for both a computer and television. It is increasingly common to have a monitor pull double duty as a television and computer screen. Many monitors have input options you can switch so you can have several peripherals plugged in to one monitor.

Tips & Warnings

  • A television is unlikely to be a good long term solution for a computer monitor, but it can give you the luxury of having a screen if your computer monitor goes out or if you need to run two monitors.
  • There are "PC to TV" converters that can minimize losing some of the quality that running a computer on a TV can produce.
  • Be sure to verify any cables or adapters before you purchase them. There are several models of the different formats, so a DVI connector on a cable may not be the same DVI as your computer or TV.