Help connecting a MacBook to a TV
February 10, 2009 11:33 PM   Subscribe

How do I connect my white MacBook to my TV? My intention is to be able to watch movies I have on my computer on my TV, or just use my TV as a monitor.

I have these cables:
Mini DVI to VGA
VGA to RCA (yellow)
3.5mm headphone jack to RCA (red and white)

Audio works fine, but I cannot get my MacBook to display anything on my Sony Bravia. I have no idea what the issue could be. I've used the Mini DVI to VGA cable to connect to a projector before and that worked fine. Please help me sort this out. I've tried this with two tvs, still no success.
posted by alitorbati to Technology (8 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Assuming your Sony is SD and only has Composite/S-Video in, you'll need to go to the Apple store and get a MiniDVI to S-Video adaptor. There's no way to transform VGA to interlaced NTSC trivially (without a powered external video converter box.) Much cheaper to get the adaptor so the laptop does the work. While OK for movies, you will be disappointed trying to use normal apps at the limited resolution of standard-def.
posted by squid patrol at 11:38 PM on February 10, 2009

Here's what I do with my Macbook Pro and my Sony Bravia:

1) plug DVI-to-VGA adapter into MBP

2) Plug VGA cable into adapter and VGA port on back of TV

3) Set TV to Video 9 (which is the VGA input, your TV may be different)

4) At this point, my Macbook Pro automatically picks up the signal and uses the TV as a second monitor. I can then drag windows back and forth and such.

You haven't said whether you're trying to use the TV with your macbook closed, but if you are, plugging in a USB device like a keyboard or mouse will wake the computer and allow it to use the TV as monitor.
posted by Fleebnork at 1:20 AM on February 11, 2009

Yeah, it sounds like you might just need to change the input on your TV, or switch the display on your MacBook. And not to hawk my own wares here, but I wrote a very basic interactive tutorial on connecting a PC to an HDTV for Sony recently that might help. It's here.
posted by lunalaguna at 2:02 AM on February 11, 2009

If your TV has a PC input, you can buy a Mini-DVI to VGA adapter.
If your TV has a S-Video or composite (RCA) input, you can buy a Mini-DVI to Video adapter.
If your TV has an HDMI input, you can buy a Mini-DVI to HDMI adapter.

Note the HDMI adapter has problems with overscan on 720p sets.
posted by spoons at 7:13 AM on February 11, 2009

I used to do this a lot and the Mini-DVI to Video adapter was what I used. You can get these on Ebay for a fraction of what they cost at Apple-branded places. Then you just use the 3 to 3 RCA jack to plug into the adapter (yellow) and get a two-into-one (red and black into headphone jack) cable and you're good. Also note what people have said above. The Macbook must be open [a little] and it should detect the TV automagically but I always just hit whatever button it was that switched between cable-tv-inputs until I saw the computer screen on the TV screen.
posted by jessamyn at 7:38 AM on February 11, 2009

What they said. I use the Mini-DVI adapter. Sometimes the picture has a weird aspect ratio or the gamma is wrong. Open Displays in system preferences and click on Autodetect Displays. OS X detects many models of TVs, and will adjust resolution and gamma automagically.

If you want to run it with the MB closed and don't have a USB keyboard, you have to turn the MB on, wait until it has booted up completely, close the cover, wait until the MB is sleeping, and finally connect to the TV. When you turn on the TV on the MB should wake up.
posted by dirty lies at 8:17 AM on February 11, 2009

Response by poster: This still isn't working. I'm doing exactly this:
1) plug in mini-dvi to vga
2) connect vga to composite rca
3) connect rca extension from previous adaptor to the tv
4) connect 3.5mm headphone jack to rca from macbook to tv
5) change tv to video 1 (which is where all the rca cables are plugged in)
6) click "detect displays" on the display panel of system settings

My computer will not pick up the TV's signal and won't recognize that there is another display attached. My TV has a female VGA port, so I suppose I could make it work with a VGA extension cable, but my hope was to be able to plug this into any TV with RCA ports. The adaptor I have from VGA to RCA also supports s-video, as does my TV, so I could try that but I'd like a guarantee that it'll work before I spend more cash.
And I'm fine with leaving the lid open, so that's not an issue. Just ask if I left out something you need to know to help me get this working.
posted by alitorbati at 5:06 PM on February 11, 2009

The description on your VGA to Composite RCA adapter says this: "Your video card MUST be able to support s-Video or Composite out through it's VGA port. This is known as a TV out function."

My guess is that the video card in your Macbook doesn't support those items.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:00 PM on February 11, 2009

« Older I love my parents but [cliche]   |   best websites for cheap weekend fares from my city... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.