Connecting an iMac up to your TV

Update: Please note, this technique is the ‘lowest common denominator’ option, which will give the least quality image, but will probably work with any TV. If your TV supports it, the best options are VGA (the easiest option, and what I use with my 42″ Samsung TV and my Mac Mini), HDMI, or component.

I just drew this diagram to show my aunt and uncle how to hook up their iMac to their TV. Just in case it’s useful for anyone else:


Everything can be bought at a standard electronics shop, except for the Mini DVI to Video adapter, which can be bought from an Apple shop, or from Apple’s online store.

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  1. Posted October 21, 2007 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    There are many ways to hook a Mac Mini up to a TV. The way you’ve picked is about the lowest quality of all the options. You’ve also chosen on of the few links that doesn’t support HD resolutions.

  2. Michael Tyson
    Posted October 21, 2007 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    You’re right, of course; I should’ve qualified that entry further. And mentioned Component…

  3. Karnkrong
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    Does this mean I can watch cable TV on imac? I really want an imac but there is space for one appliance in my bedroom, either my TV or perhaps a new imac which I really want…please advise.

    • Posted February 15, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Nope, I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way – this article explains how to display content from the iMac on a TV. If you want to watch Cable TV on your imac you’ll need to get an appropriate USB tuner/adapter.

  4. Neil
    Posted February 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    This will not help karnkrong watch cable TV but there are free to air USB devices that enable one to watch free to air channels on a Mac (and to record)

  5. Jason M
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    this looks like a good way to do color correction for TV. could you gimme a list of the components needed. I mean the RCA yellow cable and Mini DVI I know. But what is the box and what is it for?

  6. McGinz
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    does this mean that if i were to buy an iMac i could connect it to my HD telly and use that as a screen rather then the one provided on the iMac?

    And therefor watch movies from itunes on a HD telly?

    • Posted April 29, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      I've just added a comment up top to explain this – actually, if you get an HD TV, you'll want to use a better-quality option like VGA, HDMI or component. I have a Mac Mini permanently in place as our entertainment system, and it's attached to our TV with a VGA cable, which gives a nice crisp picture. HDMI's probably the best option, as it's digital and will produce the least amount of noise, but my idiot TV can't seem to handle it properly. Cheap electronics =)

  7. McGinz
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    im confused by VGA? it something they sell in the mac shops? i have a HD tv with the HDMI cable as i have my ps3 plugged into it (i know that much) but i know there is also a computer screen socket on the back there!

    Would getting a mac mini be the best way to connect to a tv?..or would it be worth getting the all in one imac? and running it through this 'vga' thing :s

    • Posted April 30, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      VGA is what you described as a 'computer screen socket'; You would need a DVI-VGA adapter (mini-DVI to VGA in the case of an imac), plus a length of VGA cable with the correct gender plugs.

      I don't know what your requirements for a system are, so I can't really advise you.. It's your call!

  8. Paul
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi Michael, once everything is hooked up (I’m hooking up an imac 20″ to a flatscreen 26″ tv wiht a dvi to vga cable), what is the “trick” to syncing the displays? once I plug in the dvi/vga cable my imac display gets weird (large and elongated). how do I maintain the imac’s standard display? thanks

  9. aaron
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    just was hoping the mini dvi to video can use a standard s-video cable. The picture of the device doesn’t show a very clear pic of the connections except for the usb. I bought some s-vid cable to run to my (older non HD) TV and RCA audio cable for my sound system so Im hoping that will work.

  10. Posted December 17, 2009 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    If your located in Australia I just came across these guys who specalize in cables for connecting your mac to your TV –

  11. James Scanlan
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Apple seems to be offering only Mini DVI to VGA adapter these days. You would need a VGA to Composite adapter as well as the Mini DVI to VGA.

  12. stuart
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    hi, i have an IMac with a Mini DVI output. My screen is broken, do i need to alter any settings on the IMac before i can plug it into a TV? or will it work as soon as I plug the mac into a TV automatically?

    Thanks any help is appreciated.

    • Posted October 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      I suspect it’ll work straight away, but the default settings may not be right for your TV

  13. Dwayne Harris
    Posted November 7, 2010 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Hi. I tried doing what you suggested: I have a miniDVI-DVIDVI-HDMI connecting my imac to HDTV. The picture itself is fine, but I get these little flickers across the screen every time I try to watch a video either from itunes or quicktime. If I put a DVD into the iMac and watch, there are no flickers on the TV, so I assume it’s not a connection issue. Can you help me figure out why the screen flickers like this?

    Thanks so much, -Dwayne

  14. Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Some really useful information, I connect my iMac through HDMI but it don’t display the image as well as it could. I suppose at the end of the day it’s a computer and not a Blu Ray player

  15. Rojelio
    Posted May 8, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    I have my VGA connected and I can watch my movies on the TV but how can I just have it show on the TV only like you can using a windows pc?