While I cover all the various services and devices you can use to watch TV without cable, I realized I hadn’t covered simple basics like watching Netflix on TV without having to purchase any additional equipment or devices. Today I’m going to show you how to hook up your laptop or computer to an HDTV and watch Netflix streaming on your TV. This will not only work for Netflix but just about any streaming service. This is also very handy if you want to use the Chrome Netflix Party extension (Now Called Teleparty) to have a watch party with friends and want to watch Netflix on your TV from your browser on a laptop.
To do this, you will need the following:
- Access to the internet with at least a 5 Mbps connection
- A Subscription to Netflix Streaming (If you don’t have one, you can sign up here)
- An HDTV with an HDMI port
- A laptop with an HDMI port
- An HDMI cable
Connecting your Laptop to Your TV
Below is a diagram of my home network. Most of you will have a similar setup. It doesn’t have to be the same. You may have a cable modem and router in 1 device, where mine is two separate devices.
As you can see, we will use your laptop to stream Netflix by connecting your laptop to the TV with an HDMI cable. Your TV will then mirror your laptop display to play movies and TV from Netflix. This will work for other streaming services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Sling TV as well. In fact, I use the instructions in this guide with MLB.TV to watch baseball online.
Obtaining an HDMI Cable
If you don’t have an HDMI cable, you can pick one up on Amazon, Walmart, Bestbuy, etc. I’d recommend this inexpensive 6-foot cable from Amazon. The HDMI cable should look like the picture below. Both ends of the HDMI cable should look identical.
Connect HDMI Cable to Laptop
Locate the HDMI port on your laptop. Mine is pictured below.
Insert one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI port (pictured above).
Find HDMI Port on TV
Locate the HDMI port on the back or side of your television. My port is on the side of the TV and is pictured below.
Notice how this my 3rd HDMI port is labeled “3” just above the “Audio Out” ports. Below is a close up image of what the port looks like.
Insert the other end of the HDMI cable into the port on the TV, as shown below.
Watch Netflix on TV from your Laptop
Remember how I pointed out that my computer was plugged into HDMI 3. On my television remote, there is a button that says, “Input.” It allows me to cycle through the various inputs on my TV. When I get to “HDMI-3”, I see that my computer is now mirroring its display to the TV. It’s like I have a super-sized monitor. From there, I navigate to Netflix on my laptop, sign in, and anything I watch on the laptop will also play on my TV. It will even work with a Netflix Watch Party browser extension.
My laptop display automatically mirrors the television. This should also happen on both Mac and Windows laptops. If you have a black screen, desktop, or other images on your screen, it’s possible your display setting is extending the desktop to the TV instead of duplicating it. Here is how to set the display settings to duplicate the laptop display to the TV on various operating systems.
Display Windows 10 to TV
Setting your display to duplicate in Windows 10 is very similar to doing it in 7 or 8.
- Right Click on the Desktop and choose “Display Settings.”
- Click the Multiple Displays drop-down list, and select Duplicate these displays.
- Click Keep Changes if you are prompted to save the changes.
Display Mac to TV
- From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.
- From the View menu, choose Displays.
- Click the Arrangement tab.
- Check “Mirror Displays” in the bottom-left corner.
Display Windows 8 to TV
(This is how to do this in Windows 7 as well)
If your Windows 8 laptop isn’t displaying on your TV, then try the steps below.
From there change, the dropdown menu for “Multiple displays” from “Extend these displays” to “Duplicate these displays.”
After that click “Apply”, then “OK.” The display should now be duplicated to your television.
Better Ways to Watch Netflix on TV
This “How To” covers watching Netflix on your HDTV using a laptop. However, televisions typically don’t render a laptop screen, as well as we would like. Sure, we could tweak the resolution and display settings to improve the picture, but that’s a hassle, and there are devices made to do this. I use the streaming device as a Roku and can stream just about any streaming service I want on my TV. For more information, check out my post explaining what Roku is and how to use one. It’s also possible to use a video game console to watch Netflix on TV. You can see how this is set up in my article on Watching Netflix on Xbox.
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