How to connect an iPhone or iPad to a TV or a computer monitor

How to connect an iPhone or iPad to a TV or a computer monitor
There are moments when the screen on an iPhone or iPad just isn't big enough – when you want to show off your photos to your friends, when you want to enjoy a movie to the fullest, or when you want to do a presentation in front of your colleagues, to give a few examples. At the same time, we're often near a bigger screen, such as the one on a TV or your computer's monitor. The solution? Hook up your iPhone or iPad to the larger display, of course!

Now, recent big news in tech is that Apple will be partnering up with big-name TV makers like Sony and Samsung to bring the AirPlay protocol to their new television sets. This will make it extremely easy to stream content from your iPhone or iPad to the TV... if the latter is a 2018 or 2019 model. What if you want to connect to an older model or a computer monitor? Well, here are your options:

Method 1: Using Apple's official Lightning to HDMI adapter

First, the good news: iPhones and iPads have video output capabilities and mirroring support baked right into them. As for the bad news, taking advantage of these capabilities requires the purchase of additional hardware, such as the special Lightning to HDMI adapter from Apple. These retail for $49 apiece, which is quite a lot, especially when you take into account that an HDMI cable is not included. You have to either buy one separately or borrow the cable used with your receiver, set-top box, or video game console. Note that if you have the newest iPad Pro, you will actually need a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter, since Apple's latest slates don't have the proprietary Lightning connector. These are also $49 apiece.

Using a Lightning to HDMI adapter to bring your media to the big screen has a number of downsides. First and foremost, the connection is wired instead of wireless. Sure, you're not consuming any of your Wi-Fi's bandwidth, but you'll likely miss the convenience of flipping through movies from the comfort of your couch. Furthermore, there are some complaints about resolution inconsistencies and softer images when using a cable to connect your iDevice to a bigger screen.

But if you choose to go with this method anyway, just go ahead and hook up your adapter to your device. Use an HDMI cable to connect your iPhone or iPad to your TV via the adapter. Make sure you've switched your TV to the input where your phone or tablet is connected. Within seconds, your device will automatically start sending video and audio data to your TV. Note that the image projected on your TV's screen will be slightly delayed. This lag is caused by the adapter converting the signal and is not a malfunction. 

Apple's adapter also lets you connect your iPhone or iPad to a computer monitor with HDMI input. And if using HDMI is not possible for whatever reason, Apple is offering a Lightning to VGA adapter ($49) as well. It is compatible with the great majority of TVs and computer monitors, but it can't transmit any audio.

  • The Lightning Digital AV Adapter is available on the Apple Store and at major retail stores.

Method 2: Using Apple TV and AirPlay

You've heard of the Apple TV, haven't you? It is Apple's $149 set-top box that lets you enjoy movies and music on your TV's big screen. Also, it comes with this cool feature called AirPlay. With its help, you can mirror the screen of your iPhone or iPad right onto your TV's display – wirelessly, over your home's Wi-Fi network. 

Enabling AirPlay mirroring over Apple TV is a pretty straightforward process. You just have to make sure that both your iDevice and your Apple TV are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Once that's taken care of, an AirPlay icon will show up in your Control Center. Tap it, select the Apple TV and enable mirroring. Voilà! Your device's screen will now show up on your TV.

As we previously mentioned, AirPlay 2 is in the works and will be compatible with the latest smart TVs by Sony, Samsung, LG, and other large manufacturers. But yeah, you need a model that's from 2018 or newer.

As the case is with the HDMI adapter, there might be a slight lag between what's shown on your phone or tablet and your TV, but it shouldn't be as prominent.

  • Apple TV is available on the Apple Store and at major retail stores.

Method 3: Using Reflector or other software

So, let's say that you want to enjoy using your iPhone or iPad onto a larger screen, such as the one on your computer, but neither of the aforementioned methods suits your needs or budget. Well, there's a third option – download a 3rd party app, which helps your iPhone and your PC to communicate.

We found Reflector 3 to be great for our needs. In a nutshell, they turn a computer, be it a Mac or a PC, into an AirPlay receiver. The software works wirelessly, over Wi-Fi, or via USB, in case your computer does not have a Wi-Fi adapter. Overall, it is a pretty cool solution, only costs $15 for the full software, and does have a free trial version for up to 7 days after you install it.

Using it to play large video files over Wi-Fi is not ideal, due to some lag and frame skips, but it's a great way to share pictures from your latest trip on the big screen.

To use Reflector wirelessly, just get the app from its website and launch it on your computer. Note that a window may not pop up at all, but an icon in your app tray should definitely be present, indicating that Reflector is up and running. This is your cue to reach for your iPhone or iPad and enable AirPlay from Control Center. If the AirPlay button is not present, make sure that your computer and phone or tablet are onto the same wireless network. Using Reflector over USB is just as easy – just wire up your device to your computer and launch the app. Then you'll find the AirPlay button in your Control Center. Note that if your desktop computer is wired to the Wi-Fi router your iDevice connected to, Reflector should still work over the air. 



1. zibbyzib2000

Posts: 221; Member since: Nov 18, 2010

The new update for the Apple TV doesn't require both devices to be in the same Wifi network. It uses Bluetooth and Wifi to transmit.

3. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

Method 4: Duct tape iPad or iPhone to the screen. Cheapest option by far, as its only $3 for the tape.

2. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

Y are the adapters 50 bucks??!!?

7. Nick_T

Posts: 187; Member since: May 27, 2011

Because the adapter isn't a passive device. There's a chip inside it converting video and audio coming out of the iPhone into something your TV can receive over HDMI. And there's probably a high mark-up since you don't have many alternatives.

8. DnB925Art

Posts: 1168; Member since: May 23, 2013

It;s funny that my Note 4 uses a MHL adapter for wired mirroring and a Chromecast for wireless mirroring work great as well. Both devices cost about $50 total combined.

9. zibbyzib2000

Posts: 221; Member since: Nov 18, 2010

How is that funny? I fail to see the joke.

10. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1382; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Do any of the i devices support chrome cast ( since chrome is available for apple as well)? Just asking. If not then Apple really screwed its fan-base in the form of charging extra for a feature that other OEMs implement as standard. oh well

19. Peaceboy

Posts: 640; Member since: Oct 11, 2018

Well, most apple users have apple tv for sure. I have 3 in the house.

11. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Unless I missed it. There is no mention of using chromecast to mirror. I view all my pictures from iPad and dropbox using the aforementioned method.

12. markdguy

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Why no mention of the fact QuickTime X will let you display the entire contents of your iOs device, provided you use a Lightning cable, on your Apple computer? Plug in, open QT, File>New Movie Recording. Next to the bright red record button is downward pointing carat. Click it, select your iOs device as your input. All your actions will be viewable and recordable. And yes, Chromecast is available on iOs. Get Real Player Cloud to play your personal stuff via Chromecast. It's free.

14. eyeball

Posts: 17; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Hi all, I was looking at options for my son and Daughter in law, because my Evo 4g LTE needed an( mhl to hdmi adapter ) with hdmi cable. Both of which I found on Amazon for a total of $5.50 and free shipping too! (-: it's generic but worked like a charm. I only needed the adapter for my tv,but many tv's have mhl direct,and I could have just plugged my phone directly into the tv. Apple is outrageous,$49 for the adapter. There should be a generic adapter like mine. Go shopping. But if you go online to see the list of tv's supporting mhl,then you should only need a cable. The advantage of the adapter,is the power cord for your phone plugs into the adapter to keep it charged while playing your media. Pictures,video,movies etc. Very simple setup. Hope this helps someone.

15. eyeball

Posts: 17; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

I should add,check the specs for your phone and tv,as most newer ones all have (mhl) direct. That's mini usb to full size usb to plug into tv directly. This is how Android does it,and Apple Should be the same . All phones since 2012 support mhl,at least the flagships that is. I-phones 4s and up should do mhl direct. The list of tv's can be found in a Google search. Bbut if your tv is only hdmi,then thur adapter does true trick.

16. Wolfsen

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 15, 2015

Apple TV costs us too much money. I prefer to use a free tool to mirror iPhone to PC, such as Apowersoft Phone Manager.

17. Shkselectah

Posts: 50; Member since: Jun 26, 2018

Method 4: buy chromecast

18. Georgio

Posts: 325; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

My Xs works very good with chromecast ultra

20. michaelny2001

Posts: 355; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

or method 5, use "cast" on your phone (android phone) or screen mirror or whatever is called, it serves the same purpose . and if you happen to have samsung tv most android work with no delay. you can watch movies, or even play a game directly on your tv.

21. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1485; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

I can just effortlessly stream from my phone and tablet to my TVs and computers, nothing special needed at all. Another reason why Apple sucks.

22. JCASS889 unregistered

did this on my ancient droid x, nothing special.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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