Connect your iMac or MacBook to a TV using a Thunderbolt / Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter

Thunderbolt HDMI adapter for the Mac

Recently a reader of my blog asked how he could connect his iMac to a Sony TV with HDMI inputs. This allows you to watch movies on your MacBook, iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro or another Mac with OS X on the television, for example. This can be useful if you want to watch YouTube, Vimeo or other Internet films without the television being able to access the Internet. It is also possible to use a television as a second monitor for work. There are no limits to ingenuity.

Thunderbolt HDMI adapter for the Mac
The solution for the Mac to TV problem: An adapter from Thunderbolt to HDMI (Photo: makamuki0 / Pixabay).

Thunderbolt to HDMI: an adapter makes it possible

The Thunderbolt connection on the Mac is basically the same as a MINI DisplayPort socket, except that the function is of course different. So the way it works is that you have a Mini DisplayPortHDMIadapter or Mini DisplayPort cable used to connect the Mac to the TV. If you use an adapter, you have to remember that you also need an HDMI cable to connect Mac and TV.

Important for Mac users: The right cable or the right adapter for Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI

The decision whether to use an adapter or a Mini DisplayPort (Mini DP) or Thunderbolt to HDMI cable to connect the TV and Mac is a matter of taste. However, it is important that you choose adapters or cables that are compatible with Macs or are recognized by them and displayed in the "Sound" control panel. I've selected a few here that other Mac users have used that have confirmed that the cables. or adapter on the Mac work.

Mini DP to HDMI cable from CSL
With a Mini DP to HDMI cable from CSL you can connect a Mac to a TV with HDMI input via the Thunderbolt port (Photo: Amazon / CSL).

Thunderbolt / Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI cable

The prices for the adapter cables are around 10 to 20 EUR. Here are some examples that you can check out.

The following 3-in-1 adapter from VicTSing is somewhat more flexible in use. It offers Mini DisplayPort on HDMI, DVI and VGA:

  • VicTsing Mini-DP to HDMI / DVI / VGA adapter
    It enables full 4K x 2K resolution, 3D stereo over Full HD, supports video resolutions up to 3840 * 2160 and supports stereoscopic images over Full HD (a customer writes that 5.1 audio is not possible, but I assume that depends on the settings on the Mac)
    more details and possible resolutions and refresh rates please read on Amazon

Adjust audio settings for sound transmission

One often reads in forums that people have no sound when they want to transfer a movie from their Mac to the TV. In some cases the audio signal works, but unfortunately only mono or stereo but not in Dolby Surround or audio from home theater systems with 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 or 7.2 channels.

The problem here is either with a MINI-DP-HDMI adapter or Mini-DisplayPort-HDMI cable that does not support audio transmission correctly or it is not set correctly on the Mac.

If you have a compatible adapter, the following instructions are suitable for making the audio settings:

  1. Open system settings (System Preferences)
  2. Open sound settings (sound)
  3. On the Output tab
  4. With the (!!) adapter and HDMI cable connected, the speakers of the device in which the HDMI cable is plugged appear. Simply select these speakers (just mark them) and you're done :)

The right settings for 5.1 or 7.1 systems

With some home theater systems and surround systems, the sound is sometimes not transmitted correctly. If the sound does not come out in stereo or Dolby Surround, then something else may have to be set.

A Users in the Apple support forum has documented how it looked with corresponding screenshots. Basically you choose in the Settings -> Ton as a Output the profile "HDMI", as explained in the instructions above. Then there is the option of making additional settings for the speakers. Here in the English-language screenshots, the important buttons are marked with red arrows:

Settings sound HDMI
Under Settings> Sound you select the HDMI device and then click on the configuration of the audio device in the lower right corner.
Sound settings multichannel 5.1 surround sound
If you have clicked on the configuration, you can click on "Multichannel" at the top and make the other settings such as "5.1. Surround Sound”. The windows might look different under El Capitan, but basically this is the way to go if the sound isn't right.

Which Macs are compatible with a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter

Some older Macs will not accept a Mini DP to HDMI adapter. Apple itself has here is a list Compiled with Macs, which shows which Macs ONLY transmit a video signal and which also allow multichannel audio with up to 8 channels.

Thunderbolt ports and HDMI port on the MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro Retina has both Thunderbolt ports (to which a mini DisplayPort-HDMI adapter can be connected) and an HDMI port to which a television can be connected directly (graphic: Apple).

The following Macs support multi-channel audio with up to 8 channels through the Mini DisplayPort. The models marked with an asterisk (*) have an HDMI output and do not require an adapter:

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012 and later) *
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 and later) *
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 and Mid 2012)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013) *
  • MacBook (Mid 2010 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 and later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 and later)
  • iMac (Late 2009 and later)

The following Mac models ONLY support video and no audio via the Mini DisplayPort:

  • iMac (Early 2009) and (Mid 2009)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009) and (Late 2009)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2009)
  • MacBook (Late 2009)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum Late 2008)
  • MacBook Pro (late 2008), (Mid 2009), and (Early 2009)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008) and (Mid 2009)

Information about the HDMI connection to Macs

There are still a few on the Apple support page Information about the HDMI port on Macs:

What resolutions are supported on Mac computers with HDMI?
For HDMI connections, the HDMI port supports resolutions up to 1080p. The HDMI connection supports resolutions of up to 1920 x 1200 via the HDMI-to-DVI adapter. The computers of the models Mac Pro (Late 2013), MacBook Pro (Retina, Late 2013 and newer), iMac (27 ″, Late 2013) 2014 and newer) and Mac mini (Late 4) also support XNUMXK monitors.

What audio signals are compatible with Mac computers that use HDMI?
Apple supports 8-channel 24-bit audio at 192 kHz, Dolby Surround 5.1, and traditional stereo output.

Why can't I select HDMI audio on my Mac mini?
If you connect an HDMI monitor or TV to a Mac mini (Mid 2010 or later), you might not be able to select the HDMI audio device (in System Preferences > Sound > Output). This can happen when headphones are also connected to the computer. Unplug the headphones to be able to select HDMI audio.

My Mac doesn't recognize my HDTV through the HDMI connection.
Leave the Mac on while you turn off the HDTV. Disconnect and reconnect the HDMI cable from your Mac. Turn on the HDTV.

I hope this compilation of information helps you to connect your Mac to the TV set. I look forward to your feedback.

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10 comments on “Connect iMac or MacBook to a TV via Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter”

  1. i have such a cls cable but still no picture is shown on the tv. I also don't have the option of selecting this double monitor under the monitor setting

  2. Dear Sir

    I have a 21.5 ″, Late 2012, OS Sierra 10.12.6, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M 512 MB. I connected this to a Pioneer receiver using a MiniDisplayport adapter and approx. 10m HDMI, which in turn controls my Pioneer plasma via HDMI out. If I switch from my Swisscom box (TV over IP) to the BD source (where the imac is attached), it is purely a matter of luck whether the picture and sound appear. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn't. Then I plug the display port in and out several times while all the devices are running. If I then move the port plug a little, the TV will flicker on the umpteenth attempt, which is the sign that it has worked.

    This fact is extremely tedious and has made me almost desperate to assign it. I wonder why that is. I do not believe that the contact is loose, as it is the same at the other Thunderbolt output on the imac. I suspect a handshake problem, but I am nowhere near as well versed in the technique.

    Do you have a hint for me? A heartfelt thank you!

    1. Hello Ralph! That sounds like two different problems to me. On the one hand, there may be a wobbly plug contact and, on the other hand, the HDMI signal is probably too weak, which the television can usually no longer interpret. The maximum cable length for HDMI is given as 10 meters, but I read in a forum that under certain circumstances (bad cable) it can end after 2 meters. The best choice is then always to divide the desired length that you want to bridge by two and then an HDMI repeater (for example this) and two HDMI cables (each half the total length!). These 5m HDMI cable from KabelDirekt for example have very good ratings from almost 4000 buyers. This should solve the picture-sound problem. LG! Jens

      1. Hi Jens

        Thanks for the quick reply. Cable is ordered. Even if I have doubts that a 10 euro cable is good quality... but I'll rely on your research. If it doesn't fit, not much is lost. With my current setup, 5m should actually be enough. A buddy of mine said that adapter plugs could always be weak points. I suppose you would have recommended me a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable if there was such a thing... Hope the suggested cable works.

        Thank you.

        1. Hello Ralph! I deliberately didn't recommend a mini display port to HDMI cable because you already have an adapter. And these cables are only available up to 5 meters in length. I think the solution with the repeater in the middle is more reliable. From my point of view, expensive HDMI cables are not a quality feature either. Although there are often more hits with expensive ones, there are also good, inexpensive HDMI cables available. I would trust the customer experience. Have you now ordered 2x 5m and the repeater? LG! Jens

          1. Nope. I wrote that with my current setup 5m should be enough ... If it doesn't work, I can always order the other cable to rule out the adapter as a source of error. Greetings Ralph

          2. Got the cable. Tested a few days. It's not the cable! The question now is whether I should replace the adapter or should I order a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable? Would Sir Apfelot have any advice? Thank you Ralph

          3. Hello Ralph! Too bad ... would have been nice and easy if it had been the cable. I think we have to first locate the problem before you invest more money. Do you have another TV or monitor with an HDMI input that you could clip the Mac to? Then we would know, at the top of the monitor input or on the adapter from Apple. LG! Jens

  3. Forget it in 2020 too: Apple simply doesn't support plus formats, i.e. no dd5.1 plus the de facto standard for Netflix and Amazon prime. Only in Catalina and ONLY with the latest hardware and ONLY with apple TV app.

    All humbug, old MacPro5.1 with Windows 10 installed Elite codec pack ... everything works .. everything.
    It's not the hardware, it's the will :)

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