Most modern digital video and audio is shared through a type of cable used on nearly any type of device, called HDMI. High-definition multimedia interface ports and cabling are extremely versatile and can now be found on everything from tablet computers and laptops to televisions and theater equipment.

However, HDMI still carries a few drawbacks. Some older laptops that aren’t equipped with an HDMI port require adapters before they’re able to output to a TV. The process also requires a handshake between the laptop and the TV before the latter will begin receiving audio and video.

We’ll begin by looking at the steps to take within a laptop’s operating system, and conclude with a summary of potential HDMI adapters that can bring any laptop up to speed.

Connect the HDMI Cable to Your TV

Step 1 Connecting HDMI Cable to Your TV

First, plug the HDMI cable into the receiving TV. Ensure that you know which TV port the cable has been assigned to—high-definition televisions often have several. Before proceeding to setup on the laptop, switch your TV to the appropriate input channel. This will help you to troubleshoot, and will also alert you to when the laptop output is properly working.

Connect the HDMI Cable to Your Laptop

Connecting HDMI Cable to the Laptop

Next, plug the HDMI cable into the laptop’s HDMI port. Some models will automatically detect the presence of an output cable, and send you a query asking if you’d like to extend your computer’s desktop to a second monitor. If this is the case, simply select “Yes,” and ensure that your laptop’s desktop does, indeed, show up on your TV screen.

Set Up Your Laptop for an External Display

If you receive no such query, a few extra steps will be necessary. First, find your computer’s “Control Panel.” Beneath the “Appearance and Personalization” category, select “Adjust Screen Resolution.” Now that your laptop is physically connected to the TV via the HDMI cable, this window should reveal two displays.

If your desktop already appears on the TV, both will be enabled, but if it does not, one will be disabled. Click on the disabled display, and select “Extend the Desktop onto this Monitor.” At this point, if all steps were correctly followed and all hardware is configured, you will see your laptop’s desktop on the larger TV screen.

Diagnosing Further Issues

Two problems occasionally surface when performing this process, and both can be solved with simple troubleshooting. If you’ve connected the laptop to the TV via HDMI but the sound is not working, the fault often rests in the laptop’s audio drivers. In the System Tray, locate the sound icon and select “Playback Devices.” The TV that your laptop is connected to should now appear among the listed devices. With the TV selected, choose “Set Default.” This will force the laptop’s default sound output to the connected TV.

Fixing the “No Signal” Message

Another frequent problem is the appearance of the words “No Signal” on the intended TV screen, indicating that the TV is not correctly displaying the audio and video from the laptop. First, double-check that the TV is set to the input channel that you’ve plugged the HDMI cable into. This is a frequent mistake, and the simplest of solutions.

If the input channel is correct, but “No Signal” still appears on the screen, unplug the HDMI cable from the TV and laptop, and power down both devices. Allow each to turn back on fully, and then attempt the setup process once more.

If your devices still do not work, then a problem may exist at the hardware level. Attempt the connection with a different HDMI cable, and if the connection is still unsuccessful, contact the laptop’s manufacturer.

HDMI Adapters

While HDMI has been a preferred way to transfer video and audio since roughly 2004, not all machines may be equipped with an HDMI port. If this is the case, a USB to HDMI adaptor will be necessary to output video and audio from your laptop to a TV. Once an adapter has been connected, however, the setup process detailed above can be used to successfully bridge the two devices.

Though DVI ports on laptop computers are rare, adapters are available to make these computers HDMI ready. DVI output signals do not carry audio, however, and should therefore only be used when video output is required.


Regardless of any necessary troubleshooting, HDMI remains the reliable standard for audio and video transfer between devices. With most modern hardware embracing it, using your laptop to broadcast to a TV broadens potential for both work and entertainment.

The above steps will ideally have your laptop projecting audio and video to your TV. Provided the steps are followed closely, your laptop’s adjusted settings should make the process foreseeably easier.


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