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Connect to external video

Can't connect your computer to a video projector

There's little more frustrating than showing up at a conference and finding that the video projector doesn't have the right connectors to hook up to your laptop. Unless it's being the poor grunt who's responsible for hooking the projector up to whatever laptop today's speaker (or speakers) show up with.

Your presentation, your laptop

If you're the presenter and plan to use your own laptop, do everybody a BIG favor: bring VGA and HDMI adapters for your computer's video output and you'll be able to connect to nearly any projector, monitor or TV out there.

Mac folks: Read that again. Then check your new Mac to make sure your existing adapters work with it. They probably won't. The Apple Store will have whatever you need to get hooked up. Monoprice will probably have it for less.

Your projector, somebody else's laptop(s)

This gets kinda ugly. But if you're reading this, you've been there, know that and want to find out which t-shirt to get.

If you need to be prepared for anything (or at least any device sold in the last ten years or so) here are the types of video output connections you'll find on desktop and laptop computers, PCs, Macs, iPads/iPhones and other similar devices. You'll need cables and/or adapters to hook them up with your projector/monitor/television.

Types of connectors

Here's a sampling of the more common connectors:

Adapter Description
VGA Found on most desktop PCs, older laptop PCs (but never Macs)
If there's anything like a Universal Connector for video projectors/monitors/TVs, VGA is it, though HDMI is at least as common.
HDMI, HDMI Mini, HDMI Micro Various versions of HDMI, Mini and Micro are laptop and desktop PCs.
DVI (Dual & Single Link) Found on many modern video cards in desktop PCs. Rarely if ever used on laptops/tablets/phones.
DisplayPort & Mini-DisplayPort Macs, some Lenovo, HP, and Dell computers; some ATI & NVIDIA graphics cards. DisplayPort and Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI/VGA/DVIadapters are available.
Thunderbolt 3 Can carry dual DisplayPort signals (ie can support up to two 4K monitors). Uses USB Type-C connectors and doubles as Type-C USB port.
USB-C A type of high-speed USB that can also carry analog or digital video data. USB-C to VGA/HDMI/DVI/DisplayPort adapters are available. With the right adapters, you can run video, ethernet, USB and additional USB-C devices from a single USB-C connector on your computer.
Lightning Found on iPhones/iPads
Micro-DVI Used on some MacBook Air laptops, later replaced by Mini DisplayPort
Mini-DVI Older Mac laptops (PowerBook, for example)
ADC (Apple Display Connector) WAY older Macs

More about the different types of connectors

Here are some useful sites:

Sources of cables, adapters etc.

We've dealt with all of these ourselves and/or purchased their products. Some of these sites also provide useful information about how the different connectors are used and how they can be adapted, one to another.

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Connect to external video
Last update 29 April, 2020
Created: 01 September, 2016