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How to use TV as a PC monitor

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Aina Prat
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Cables to use

All televisions and computers are equipped with special ports capable of transmitting and / or receiving both video and audio or video only. Just find the right cable and make the connection between TV and PC and that's it. Below you will find all the main ports and the related cables that can be used to use the TV as a PC monitor.

HDMI

All televisions and (almost) all computers on the market are equipped with HDMI ports, this means that the easiest way to use a TV as a PC monitor is to buy a HDMI cable. You can find them in various sizes in any electronics store and on online stores with prices fluttering around 8,00 €, digit plus, digit minus. You can use the cable to physically connect your computer to the TV. Everything happens automatically, without the need for special software or configurations.



Through the HDMI cable, not only the video signal (in Full HD 1080p or even 4K resolution) is transferred but also the audio signal. This means that by using a single cable you will be able to both see and hear everything that happens on your computer via the TV.

If you do not have a traditional PC but a convertible device, that is a tablet equipped with a base with keyboard, instead of the HDMI port you may be dealing with a type port Mini HDMI (type C connector) or Micro HDMI (type D connector). In this case, the classic HDMI cable must be combined with a adapter HDMI to Mini-HDMI or HDMI to Micro-HDMI.

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VGA

To use TV as a PC monitor in the case of older computers (therefore without HDMI), it is possible to count on other video outputs, first of all the one called VGA (Video Graphics Array). You can recognize this type of exit quite easily by the flattened shape and the two side screw holes it lends.



VGA cables generally cost less than HDMI cables and easily support the resolution of Full HD (1920 × 1080 pixels) televisions but, keep this in mind, they do not pass the audio signal. Consequently, it must be used in conjunction with an audio cable to plug into the headphone jack of the PC and into the two stereo inputs of the TV. Their signal is analog, not digital like that of HDMI cables, so it is susceptible to degradation.

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S-Video

La S-Video it is a small round door found on many laptops (even older ones) and many TVs. You can also use it on televisions that do not integrate it directly through special SCART adapters.

S-Video cables are not suitable for HD content and, similar to what happens with VGA output, they only support video stream, so they must be coupled to an audio cable.

Thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort and USB Type-C

The door Thunderbolt is that mini DisplayPort they are present on Apple computers, both fixed and portable. They transmit the video signal up to the maximum possible resolution and also the audio signal. To connect to TVs, you need to purchase a Thunderbolt / Mini DisplayPort to HDMI / DVI / VGA adapter. The prices are quite affordable.

If you bought a MacBook instead 12 ", the ultra-thin and ultra-light one equipped with Retina display, you have only one port at your disposal: the USB Type-C. This means that you can only connect your Apple computer to the TV by purchasing a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter.


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Setting up the TV and computer

After having found the cable or adapter and once the computer and the TV have been connected, you can choose whether to use the latter as a duplicate of the desktop (thus reproducing in real time what happens on the PC screen) or whether to configure it as a desk extension and use it as a secondary monitor. How you do it? Now I'll explain it to you right away.


Windows

If you are using a computer with su installed Windows, right click anywhere on the desktop and select the item Screen resolution o Display settings (depends on the version of Windows in use) from the menu that appears. In the window that opens, select the item Extend your desktop to this screen give menu to tendin More screens and click on Apply / OK to apply the changes.

Alternatively, to speed things up, you can also press the key combination Win + P on the PC keyboard and choose whether to use the function Extend o Duplicate screen from the menu that appears.

Do you want to change the order in which the screens are arranged, so that you can move more naturally from one space to another? No problem. Go back to the menu Screen resolution and drag with the mouse the icons of the two monitors so that they correspond to their real position (eg one on the right and one on the left or one at the top and one at the bottom).


To choose which of the two screens to identify as the primary monitor, select its icon with the mouse, put the check mark next to the item Set as main screen which is located at the bottom and first click on Apply and then OK per salvare i Cambiomenti.

As I explained in the previous lines, some cables are able to pass both the video signal and the audio signal to the TV, so you can have the sounds of the computer play through the TV. You can find everything explained in great detail in my guide on how to hear audio from PC to TV.

MacOS

Also MacOS, like Windows, it has a convenient control panel from which all preferences can be adjusted. You find it by going in System preference and clicking on the icon Monitor.


In the window that opens, you can then decide whether to use TV as a secondary monitor or whether to duplicate the Mac desktop by going to the tab Layout and removing or applying the check mark next to the item Dual monitor.

To change the layout of the screens, as seen previously on Windows, just select the monitor icons with the mouse and move them in the order you prefer. To adjust the resolution of each display, however, you need to go to the tab Monitor and apply the check mark next to the item Resized.

Using TV as a "wireless" PC monitor

Aren't you excited about having long cables scattered around the house? Well, there are also ways to use TV as a PC monitor wirelessly but - I must warn you - they don't always work great. Being based on the transmission of the audio / video signal via Wi-Fi network, they can suffer from slight delays (lag), slowdowns and do not offer the same image and sound quality as the physical connection with the HDMI cable. Either way, find all the information you need below.

chromecast

The cheapest way to get a wireless connection between your computer and TV is chromecast, a sort of key that connects to the HDMI and USB ports of the TV and allows you to send various contents in streaming to the TV (as long as they are connected to the same wireless network).

It has a base price of 39,00 euros (for the Full HD model, then a 4K one is available at the price of 79 euros) you can buy it directly on the official Google store. It works with both Windows and Mac and can also be used on televisions without an Internet connection.

To use it as your computer's desktop receiver, you need to install the browser Google Chrome. Then you have to press the icon located at the top right of the Chrome toolbar, you have to select the item Broadcast from the menu that pops up and you have to respond OK to the warning that appears on the screen.

To finish, you need to expand the drop-down menu Send to, you need to select the item Cast desktop and you have to choose the name of your Chromecast from the box that appears in the center of the screen. If you want to know more, read my tutorial on how Chromecast works in which I showed you how the device works in an extremely detailed way

Apple TV

If you have a Mac, you can get even better results if you buy one Apple TV and connect it to the same Wi-Fi network as your computer. Offers the ability to use the TV as a duplicate or desk extension via technology AirPlay.

There are currently three versions of Apple TV: the 3rd generation Apple TV, which offers a limited set of applications focused on playing multimedia content (eg iTunes Store, YouTube, Netflix etc.); there 4th generation Apple TV, which instead has a dedicated App Store, supports games and comes with a remote control with a touch surface and the Apple TV 4K which adds 4K support to 4th generation support. It can be purchased in any electronics store or on the Apple website. The third generation model, however, is no longer officially sold by Apple.

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Using Apple TV to use TV as a PC monitor is quite simple. Once connected to the Apple TV to the TV and to the same Wi-Fi network to which the Mac is "connected", just click on the screen with the triangle next to it (the AirPlay icon) in the macOS menu bar and select the name of your own Apple TV from the menu that opens. For more details, check out my tutorial on how Apple TV works.

Miracast

Some PCs come with a Miracast, a technology that uses the Wi-Fi Direct system to send video and audio content to the TV. Unlike the Chromecast and the Apple TV, it does not need a support Wi-Fi network and cannot be used on Mac (as Apple computers do not support this technology).

In order for the desktop or video content to be transmitted to the TV correctly, you need to use a TV with integrated Miracast or you need to buy an adapter like the ones listed below. They are very inexpensive and do not require complicated setups.

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To cast the desktop of a Windows 10 computer via Miracast, go to PC settings, select the icon System and click on the item Connect to wireless screen present in the menu Screen. If you are using Windows 8, select the item devices from the charms bar (the desktop side menu), then click on Project and choose to configure one wireless screen. For more information, consult the appropriate information web page attached to the Microsoft website.

How to use TV as a PC monitor

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