Dave Taylor

How To Stream Video From Your Laptop to HDTV

If you’re like me, you keep getting those Cable TV or satellite TV bills and wondering why you keep spending money when there’s so much terrific content available on the Internet for free or very little cost. Between Hulu, YouTube and a streaming-only subscription to Netflix, for $10/mo you have access to thousands of movies and hundreds of episodes of TV series.

Maybe it’s time to cut that cord!

Problem is, I have a nice big HD television and it’s far nicer for viewing this content than any of my computer screens. The solution? Hook them together.

That’s what we’re going to do in this article: I’ll show you how to use a simple HDMI cable to connect your laptop to an HDTV, then tweak Windows so you can watch anything you’d like on that big screen, even while controlling it all from your PC laptop or desktop computer.

WHAT YOU NEED

To get started, you need a computer that has an HDMI (which stands for “high definition multimedia interface”, if you’re curious) port, an HDMI cable, and an HDTV that you can use to plug into and watch.

HDMI connection on my Windows laptop
hdmi connection on windows laptopTurns out that there are two types of HDMI cable, a fat one that you probably already have if you have an HDTV, and a very slim unidirectional cable that requires you plug it in with the correct orientation: “TV” needs to be plugged into the TV on mine, for example.

I’ll be using one of the latter cables to get this all to work, though it’ll work fine with either. The advantage of the skinny cable is that you can more easily travel with it and once you know how to hook up your computer to the TV, you’d be surprised just how many hotel TVs have an HDMI input you can utilize to watch your favorite content rather than pay those exorbitant hotel movie fees.

HOOKING IT ALL UP

First step is to hook things up. When you plug in the HDMI cable on the back of the TV, pay attention to the labels too: It’ll indicate the input port that you’ll want to select once you turn the TV on.

On my HDTV we’re going to use “HDMI 2.”

HDTV HDMI Once you have the HDMI wire plugged into both your PC and HDTV, use the INPUT button on the TV (either on the remote or on the top of the TV itself) to select the matching input. More likely than not, it’ll be blank. Don’t worry.

CONFIGURING YOUR PC TO USE THE HDMI PORT

For reasons I don’t really understand, Windows seems to ignore the HDMI port when you plug something in, so we’ll have to power it up and tell the computer it’s fine to send a signal out on the line. That’s done by going into Control Panels and selecting “Adjust screen resolution”.

On that window you’ll see that it shows there are two different displays, but one of them will be disabled, as shown here:

display-settingsTwo monitors are found, but only one’s enabled.

To remedy this, click on the second monitor (here it’s identified as “2”), the choose “Extend the desktop onto this monitor” and click “Apply”. The HDTV screen should come to life and show you a Windows desktop background photograph. If it doesn’t, try again. Sometimes you have to select this more than once.

I recommend that you now tweak the resolution on the second screen to be at least 1100 x 650, depending on what options you have. I have very good luck with 1184×666. The goal is to have the background photo spread across the entire TV screen.

Now make sure you have the sound unmuted and at a reasonable volume on your computer and on the TV and let’s get some content on the screen!

WATCHING HULU OR NETFLIX ON YOUR HDTV

You’ve done all the hard work at this point, the rest is easy. Open up your favorite Web browser and go to http://www.hulu.com or http://www.netflix.com and pick something you’d like to watch, or even just experiment with for this process.

Now, using your mouse, click and drag the titlebar of the Web window to the right, off your computer screen. As it moves off that screen, it should appear on the TV screen. What we’ve done is basically extend your desktop onto the second display so anything that you “drag” there is on the TV, even though the PC still thinks of it as just a second monitor. Nifty, eh?

Start playing whatever content you want, then click on the “Full Screen” option and the Web browser window and Windows desktop will vanish and the video content will spread across the entire TV screen.

On Hulu videos, Full Screen is the rightmost button below the content

Sit back. Enjoy.

Not too tricky, is it? You can mirror the content of your computer on your TV screen if you want too, but that’s a bit harder to set up because then you need to match the best resolution for the TV with a workable resolution on the computer itself. In my experience, having the dual-display setup we’ve done here is far easier.

Now the hard part. Finding something to watch. :-)

———————-

Dave Taylor writes the popular AskDaveTaylor.com tech support blog and has been fiddling with computers and gadgets for more years than he’s willing to admit. You have questions? He’s happy to hear from you on his site.

Editor Note: Intel sponsored this video and guest post.

37 Responses to How To Stream Video From Your Laptop to HDTV

  1. Rick Lee says:

    Personally, I love streaming Netflix and Youtube videos from my laptop to my TV. If you haven’t done this yet, you don’t know what you are missing out on! Take this advice and try it out!

  2. eBatts says:

    Streaming movies across HDMI has saved people alot of money on cable / movie bills. There are also some devices that can stream video across bluetooth. I’m curious if more laptops will be able to do this without the HDMI cable.

  3. Dave Taylor says:

    Great question, eBatts. You’re right that wireless video is very cool too. Apple supports this with its own product line using “AirPlay”, which lets you push video content in addition to just audio to compatible video gear. Did you know that Intel has a solution in this space too, though? Check out the Intel Wireless Display: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/intel-wireless-display.html My take? Very, very slick.

  4. Dylan says:

    Dear Dave, I followed your video and got the images to switch over but the sound is only coming from my laptop. How can I get it to go through my tv so it’s louder?

    • Dave says:

      plug your laptop into the speaks of the tv. its easier if you use external speakers cos you can basically unplug them from the tv and insert into your laptop AUX port. i do and i just plug these directly into the laptop therefore you are basically using your tv as a monitor.

      • Kayaker2583 says:

        The HDMI cable carries both audio and video, the problem with that is not all computers have audio out option on their HDMI out put. In a computer audio and video are controlled by two different peices of hardware, the graphics card and the sound card. Some computers have a small connection between the two cards for HDMI, but many only offer the HDMI connection on the graphics card. On most HDTVs there is a sound in option for PCs usually located next to a VGA or HDMI input. These audio in inputs use a standard 3.5mm auxiliary cable. All you have to do is get an auxiliary cable plug it into your TV and then into the headphone jack on you desktop or laptop. Hope this helps, haves great day!

  5. Jason S. says:

    Thank you, very much, for the walkthrough, Mr. Taylor. Am currently accessing my Netflix account via the Samsung’s so-called ‘SmartTV,’ via a Samsung, signal-pickup gizmo that I plugged into one of the HDMI ports which transfers the signal from the wireless router in another room. However, of late, the playback has been unsatisfactory: the film does not play smoothly; it plays jerkily. Yet, plays smoothly at my computer which is playing directly from the cable feed not from the wireless signal. Am thinking the problem is that the television is across the home from where the router is. So, have been wondering how to go about setting up a more direct feed into the television to eliminate problems via the wireless signal being compromised. Was thinking I’d have to have my ISP provide a cable into the television room as well as the one already going into the study (where our computing is done). Came upon your article, and what seems to be the solution I am seeking; however, I do have a question. Your article doesn’t mention how the laptop is getting the internet connexion. Is the laptop connected directly to an ISP via a cable connexion, or is it also getting its internet access via some wireless means? If the latter, wouldn’t I experience the same problem? Please elaborate on this aspect. I would be most grateful for the additional information. Thank you so much. ~J~

  6. kp says:

    Can you do this without an hdmi interface. I have a huge 65 inch, box tv, and it suits me just fine. How can I get the same programs on my desktop (amazon prime, youtube, imdb, etc) on the tv? Roku?

  7. sunshyne says:

    Can you tell me if there is a way to stream movies throughout my house? I really don’t like direct TV but it’s the only cable company allowed in this complex. I don’t have any cable in my apartment. I have a HDIM TV and computer. Can someone
    please help me?

    Ms. D. Collins

    • Andy says:

      I believe FCC regulations allow you to use other sat/cable/FIOS services should that service ve available in your area. Definate for Dish TV.

  8. CraigK says:

    Dear Dave, thanks for the really user-friendly guide you have posted here, it worked instantly for me. Do you happen to know how I can watch what is being played on my television through my laptop AND still be able to work on my laptop at the same time without the video being interrupted or interfered with? Hope you have a solution on hand :-)
    Cheers, Craig

  9. Louise Edwards says:

    Omg really good website I have just streamed my laptop to my nice big tv no more little screen for me thank u guys

  10. jon norris says:

    Similar question KP… I have a huge Samsung with a couple HDMI ports.. but neither my older apple., or my
    wife’s new apple have hdmi ports.. how can I stream .. a friend says buy a cheap PC.. or maybe apple .. or Roku device.. There has to be something better than my satellite…thanks for the column..

    j

  11. Penny says:

    I CAN STREAM A DVD FROM MY LAPTOP TO MY TV AND GET SOUND. WHEN I STREAM HULU ETC I GET SOUND ON THE LAPTOP BUT NOT ON THE TV. IF I GO TO CONTROL PANEL AND MAKE HDMI MY DEFAULT I GET NO SOUND AT ALL. CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME?

  12. Nisar says:

    I tried to connect my laptop to my TV via HDMI cable.
    I connected one end of the cable to the TV HDMI port. When I connect the other end to my laptop the screen turns black as if the computer is off. And the TV screen says NO SIGNAL. when I remove the cable from the laptop, the screen comes back to life.
    I have Windows7 on my laptop.
    When I clicked on the video card icon on task bar it was giving me few options, like do you want to connect video out put to LG Tv,Pc display and duplicate display. I tried all these options, nothing happened.
    Also:
    1. TV has been detected by laptop. In one of the options on the video output ask if you want to connect to LG tv.
    2. The HDMI on TV screen is highlighted.
    3. I double checked the cable, it’s firmly connected to my laptop and TV.
    But still no picture on TV. It says NO SIGNAL.
    I am waiting for your further instruction.
    Thanks for your time and your effort.
    Regards,
    Nisar

  13. Traci says:

    Great information! thanks! I was also wondering if there is a way to watch netflix (from my laptop to my computer) at the same time as working on my computer. I dont know if this is possible but it would deffinatly come in handy! Thank you!

  14. Maegan says:

    I have hooked up my laptop to my tv with the hdmi cable to show netflix, but it has a drag on it. I don’t know how to explain it. It takes a long time to show the movie I am wanting to watch. It starts out fine, but it acts like it is buffering the whole time. I cannot even get past the credits. Can you please let me know what I have done wrong?

  15. frances says:

    can I achieve the same results using a VGA monitor lead from pc port on tv ? At prerent when i try this it turns off the tv
    Declan

  16. Shannon says:

    I love streaming tv shows and watching them on my tv. It used to be no problem but now most of the videos won’t open full screen on my tv, just the upper left third of the screen. Around it are two blank white stripes that I know are bad for my tv screen. I can’t figure out how to make it open all the way like it used to. It seems to be linked to the host site whether it works or not. It used to be that a few of the host sites would do that so I would just use another. But now they all seem to do it! So I’m basically back to watching stuff on my laptop screen. :-( Any ideas??
    Thanks!

  17. Janis Wagner says:

    Dear Dave,
    I was trying to use your instructions to stream movies from my dell pc to the tv via netflix. I connected the cables, but when I go to control panel and try to find monitor number 2 to enable it, there is no monitor #2- only a monitor #1. What do I do?

    • Kayaker2583 says:

      Ther is an option to detect the monitor, after you detect it then it should show. Or try looking at you function keys there sometimes is a function key that will automatically switch monitors. If none of that works tell me what kind of connection you are using along with your operating system.

  18. Ed says:

    Laptop with a wireless remote is the way I went. 160$ for a cheap laptop 225$ for 32″ samsung tv 720p getting 1180 with dsl not possible here.70$ for a wireless keybord remote. I don’t want to have to get off the couch.178$ for pioneer vsx522 , mostly for the lipsync capability audio tends to be faster then video.Another feature was the ability to upgrade video. some shows are only available in 480p or less.Hdmi hookup on all.Linkskey wireless for pc hookup.

  19. Kylie says:

    Thanks for this, Dave! very, very useful as I am a complete novice. This is another post I found helpful. It explains how to upload an HD video using Vimeo and stream it to your personal website. It further explains how live streaming works too which I found useful and interesting. http://www.real.com/resources/how-to-stream-video Thought I’d share.

  20. Dean Hodson says:

    Hello Smart Tech AKA Dave-
    I am trying to crack the code on Direct TV’s Sunday Ticket streaming options. Last year I had Direct TV and half way thru the year was required to remove my Direct TV Dish as they were doing a complete construction overhaul on my condo and my balcony. I was still amazed that I was able to watch all the games in HD quality on my HDTV streaming thru my PS3. However, I understand that this year PS3 will not have that capability. Is there a solution to this for the coming year? HELP!

    V/R
    Dean AKA Lost w/o my NFL in HD experience

  21. stef says:

    I have been searching and searching for the answer to my problem and I am hoping you could help me.

    My Vostro 1400 laptop is connected to my large screen LG TV using HDMI and I am able to do most things with no problem. The only thing that I am unable to do is to stream movies from Netflix. I could see the movie in full screen on my laptop but on the tv the movie doesn’t show up. When I move my cursor around it’s like painting the screen to find the movie stalled under it. I have win xp on my laptop. I am getting close to deciding to buy a new laptop but that is my last resort. I hope you could help me. :)

    Thanks!

  22. Est044 says:

    Hi,
    I’ve got a problem because when I try playing a dvd on my laptop it works ok, however slightly slow, but when I try dragging it across to the tv, the picture stops, but the sound still plays on my laptop. I’ve changed it to the correct resolution. Any ideas?
    Thanks

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