Saturday, November 6, 2010

Getting my Macbook to talk nice with my TV

So that my new couch wouldn't feel lonely, I finally bit the bullet and bought a TV. At 32", it seems ENORMOUS, but I simply did not want to put up with tiny screens for movie watching any longer (although I still have no intention of getting cable).

So right, I have a tv, I have a couch, and now I need a way to politely introduce my computer (still thinking about trying Canadian Netflix, although all my American friends have already partially ruined me for the experience with all their added available content) to my television so that they can be friends and I can watch Project Runway with my friend (a person friend. Not my tv, although he is very nice) without squinting. Squinting at chiffon is not actually awesome.

This was more daunting than I expected. The key is that you need some type of cable that will link your computer to your tv. Chances are you do not already have this cable, and will start wandering around the internet trying to find it. If you have a Mac, chances are even better that you will go to the apple online store and be COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED and then ask a techie friend. Who is in another country. And then you won't tell him the right information for what ports your computer has and so he will suggest the wrong cable and it will be AN UNENDING CIRCLE OF LAME.

But! By the end of it, you might actually have a decent idea of what you need, and it all seems super simple. This is my attempt to save someone from the lame cycle. (anyone. It was extremely frustrating)

First off, this guy has the best step by step, This Is How you Hook up your Mac to a TV youtube video that I have found. He is full of all sorts of useful information like "plug the computer in first or it won't work" (seriously? How was I supposed to magically know that otherwise?) and also shows you how easy it should be.

However, for it to actually BE that easy, you should do the following steps.

1. Figure out what port your laptop/computer/magic typing box actually has. 

I THOUGHT I had the mini Display Port, but this was in fact a lie based on googling on the internet and having no clue what those extra ports along the side of my computer were for. Most of the newer Macbooks and Macbook pros now have the mini display ports, so I figured that was what I had too. It wasn't until I bought the part, waited for it to arrive, and then spent twenty minutes trying to work out why it wasn't working and worrying I'd broken my new friend the TV (and cursing it for being finicky) that I worked out that I had an older version port called the Mini- DVI. This confusion was compounded by the fact that the cord I had bought sort of almost fit a different port and frankly I'm just grateful that I didn't electrocute myself and destroy my darling laptop (which has its own issues what with demanding bizarre charging rituals). I had to look up what my port was actually called on the original box, but I'm sure there is some type of google image search things that could also work.

2. Figure out what port in your TV you are going to plug into 

The internet seems to conveniently agree that you should plug into the HDMI input. So that's what I did. There are other ports, but seriously, I just decided to go with that one.

3. Accept that for some reason your laptop and television will use this cable for video, but not audio

For some reason, the macbook to tv cable/port things only carry the video. There is some muttering that new updates are fixing this, but it is OKAY, because you can just plug some old speakers (or, you know, nice and fancy ones) into the headphone jack (At least I know what that one looks like, and it is conveniently labelled) and TADA, sound!

4. Go buy that Adaptor!

I picked mine up at, because they are nice and cheap and clearly labelled (and were suggested in various forums). Good delivery, got across the border just fine, and I have now tested them twice: once for the wrong cable, and once for the one that actually works.

5. Remember to buy the actual HDMI cord too!  

Turns out if you just buy the adaptor, you are not going to have an easy time hooking it up to your tv. Thank goodness for the "customers also bought this" list, or I would have been even more frustrated during this endeavour. I suggest more than 3 feet for your cable too, as sometimes you want a bit more flexibility on where you can put your computer in relation to your tv. Oh well, I did say I wanted my electronics to be friends.

6. Plug them in!

Match up your tv to the HDMI setting and away you go! Also, don't force the connectors! If they aren't fitting, RETURN TO STEP ONE.

I am still ironing out the details on getting the screens on my laptop to match up to the tv (I can drag a screen from the laptop to the tv, and I think the F6 key [where I need to use the fn function key I've been ignoring for two years] has something to do with exterior monitors) but man, I am just pleased as punch to have finally introduced these two to each other.

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