Need Help?
(800) 273-9556
Since 1996 - Saving the World... from high priced cables
 
Log in to access your account and order history!

How Do I Connect My Computer to My TV?

how do I connect my computer to my tv

One of the most common questions we are asked is:

"How do I connect my computer to my TV?"

It's really all about finding common connector types between your devices.

Let's start with the audio connection:

    Here, you see the back panel of a typical home computer. You will commonly find two or three 3.5mm female jacks for audio input and output. Computer manufacturers are usually pretty consistent about color-coding the line out, or "headphone" jack green. The line in, or "microphone" jack will most commonly be color-coded blue or red.

    So, in order to get the audio from your computer to your TV, you will most likely plug a 3.5mm Cable (male) into the female headphone jack on your Computer (indicated by the red arrow, right).

    computer headphone jack

tv headphone jack



rca input jacks
   

    The next step is to determine if your TV has the same type of audio input jack. Many newer TVs on the market today are equipped with a 3.5mm female input jack (indicated by the red arrow, left). It will often be located very close to the blue, female SVGA video connector (more on this later).

    Some TVs, however, do not have a 3.5mm input jack. If this is the case, it will most likely have 2 RCA female input jacks, color-coded red and white - for the right / left audio channels (pictured left). The good news is that a 3.5mm connector can be easily converted to 2 RCA connectors using our "6 Inch Female 3.5mm Jack to 2x Male RCA Plugs" adapter.

    If you would rather not use an adapter, we also have a 6 Foot Cable with a Male 3.5mm Plug on one end (for the computer), and 2x Male RCA Plugs on the other end (for the TV). If you need a longer version of this cable, be sure to check out our Super High Quality, Hand-Built version.


Let's now move on to the video connection:

    It is very important to remember that common connector types is the key for a successful connection. Unless otherwise specified below, you cannot "convert" from one video connector type to another with just a cable or adapter. There are such devices as "Video Converters." We will touch on those devices near the end of this guide.

    Some computers and most TVs will have female S-Video and/or female composite video jacks (pictured right). This type of video is certainly on the lower-end of the quality spectrum, but if your equipment does not have any of the higher-end connectors discussed later in this guide, S-Video or Composite Video will get the job done (at a lower resolution than the higher-end video standards). This type of video signal is great for streaming video or slide shows onto your TV, but isn't necessarily recommended for browsing the internet, or any other situation where you'll be reading text on the screen - simply because you won't be able to achieve very high resolutions with this method. With either of these connector types, you will need to run a separate cable for audio.

   

s video composite rca video

S-Video (SVHS) Female (left)
4 pins + a rectangle "key"
for alignment

Composite Video Female (right)
Single RCA connector,
color-coded yellow


vga svga hd15

SVGA (HD15) Female
15 pins (3 rows of 5 pins each with
the middle row slightly off-set)

   

    If both your computer and your TV have an SVGA (HD15) female video connector (pictured left), you might be surprised how easy it is to make the connection. You can use any of our standard SVGA Cables. You will most likely need a male to male cable, since most computers and displays have female connectors.

    If both your computer and your TV have an SVGA connector AND a 3.5mm jack (discussed above), you can connect both the audio and the video using one cable! See our SVGA Cables with 3.5mm Audio.


    DVI-I (pictured right) is also a fairly common connector found on computers and some TVs. If both your computer and TV have a DVI-I port, you can use any of our DVI-I Cables.

    DVI-I is also compatible with HDMI, so if your computer has DVI-I, and your TV has HDMI, you can use our HDMI to DVI-D Cables to make the connection. You will need to run audio separately, as DVI does not carry an audio signal.

   

dvi video dual link

DVI-I Female
29 pins (3 rows of 8 pins each +
a flat "spade" pin with 2 pins
above & 2 more below)


dvi video dual link

DVI-D Female
25 pins (3 rows of 8 pins
each + a flat "spade" pin)

   

    DVI-D (pictured left) is also common on computers and TVs today. This is the "strictly digital" version of DVI. If both your computer and TV have a DVI-D port, you can use any of our DVI-D Cables.

    DVI-D is also compatible with HDMI, so if your computer has DVI-D, and your TV has HDMI, you can use our HDMI to DVI-D Cables to make the connection. You will need to run audio separately, as DVI does not carry an audio signal.


    Many newer computers and HDTVs are equipped with HDMI ports. If both your computer and TV have HDMI, all you need is one HDMI Cable for both audio and video.

    HDMI can be considered the "easiest" way to make the connection, since it handles both audio and video on one single cable with one single connector. It will also generally yield the highest quality picture and sound.

   

hdmi cable connector

HDMI Female
19 pins (1 row of 9 pins, with a
second row of 10 pins below)


Sometimes, you need more than just a cable to make the connection:

    If you cannot find a common connector type between your computer and TV, it may be necessary to use a converter. There are a few different converter options available:

    This simple converter represents a substantial shift in your personal computing experience, with one connection you can step your PC display up to multi-monitor or, with the same connection, you can begin using your television to view any and all media on your PC! With this simple plug and play device, creating an additional HDMI out port on your computer is as easy as plugging in a USB cable.

   

USB 3.0 to HDMI Converter

USB 3.0 TO HDMI CONVERTER

VGA to TV Adapter

vga to tv adapter

   

    If your TV does not have an SVGA (HD15), DVI or HDMI input, but DOES have an S-Video or Composite Video input, this is the converter for you. With resolutions up to 1024 x 768, this converter is great for streaming videos or slide shows onto your TV, but may not be the best solution for browsing the internet, or any other situation where you'll be reading text on the screen.

    When using this converter, you will need to run a separate cable for audio.

   The VGA to HDMI Converter box converts PC VGA and audio to HDMI, allowing connection of your PC to 1080p HDTV. It supports multiple resolutions to ensure high compatibility with a wide variety of PCs and HDTVs (resolution range up to 1920x1080@60HZ).     VGA to HDMI Converter

VGA to HDMI Converter


How do I tell my computer to use my TV as a display?

    If you are replacing your current computer monitor with your TV, it should "just work" after successfully making the connection. Your computer should auto-detect the TV and use it as your monitor.

    If instead, you want to use your TV as a second monitor for your computer, you must have a second video card in your computer, or a video card that is designed with two separate video outputs. It is not a good idea to try to "split" a single video output on your computer; the signal is simply not strong enough to power two displays properly at the same time. If you do have a second video card, and just need a nudge in the right direction to figure out how to make your TV act as a second display, continue reading:

    Of course, it depends on what kind of computer you have. With Microsoft Windows®, you need to go into the "Display Settings."

To get there in Windows XP®:

  • Right-click on the desktop.
  • Select "Properties".
  • Select the "Settings" tab. If your computer has detected the second monitor, you should see a window that looks similar to the following:

    computer display settings
  • Select monitor number 2 by clicking on the box with the "2" in it.
  • Place a check in the box that say "Extend the desktop onto this monitor."
  • Click "OK" - You should now be able to move windows between the two displays!

 

To get there in Windows Vista®:

  • Right-click on the desktop.
  • Select "Personalize".
  • Select "Display Settings". If your computer has detected the second monitor, you should see a window that looks similar to the following:

    computer video display settings
  • Select monitor number 2 by clicking on the box with the "2" in it.
  • Place a check in the box that say "Extend the desktop onto this monitor."
  • Click "OK" - You should now be able to move windows between the two displays!

 

    If your "Display Settings" window does not show two separate displays (represented by the boxes labeled "1" & "2" in the examples above), chances are your computer did not auto-detect the second video card or display. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide further technical support regarding such an issue, since every computer / video card / display is slightly different. We encourage you to consult any documentation that accompanied your hardware if you run into such an issue.


If you have any questions that weren't answered here, or if you just need someone

to help you brainstorm the best solution, please give us a call - we'd love to help!


1-800-273-9556
Merchant Services