How to Connect a Laptop to a TV Using a VGA Cable

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Video Graphics Array, or VGA for short, is video interface technology which is commonly used to connect desktop computers to monitors. A standard VGA connection displays in 640×480 resolution. This is the standard definition in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Many laptop computers have VGA ports, primarily for hooking up additional monitors, but the VGA port can also be used to connect a laptop to a TV.

  • Plug one end of the VGA cable into the laptop's VGA port.

  • Connect the other end of the VGA cable to the TV's VGA port. If the TV does not have a VGA port, plug the other end of the VGA cable into a composite adapter and then plug the composite cables into the TV. Older televisions often do not have VGA ports and require an adapter, while newer models often have VGA ports.

  • Turn on the computer and TV.

  • Change the TV to the correct video channel for the incoming connection from the computer. Most TVs have several video channels, such as S-video, component and HDMI. The correct channel will likely be a blue screen instead of static. Your TV screen might display your computer's desktop at this point. If not, go on to Step 5.

  • Open your computer's video control panel and set up screen sharing. Depending on your graphics card, your video control panel will be different, but you should be able to access it by right-clicking the desktop and selecting it from the drop-down list. Once you open the display control panel, look for an option to set up multiple displays or enable screen sharing. Select the clone setting to have the TV display the computer's desktop, or dual view to create an extension of your computer's screen.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you set a TV as your primary display device, make sure to change the setting back to the laptop screen as the primary display device before unhooking the TV.
  • If you have the option, HDMI and DVI connections to a TV will produce higher quality video signals than VGA.


  • Photo Credit flashfilm/Lifesize/Getty Images

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