It’s always a hassle to have to deal with a shift or change in technology—like shifting from using analog to digital or RCA, composite, and component cables to HDMI ones—but you got to do it because all future electronics will be using a specific format. It’s tough to gauge which one will become the standard or which one will fall on the wayside, as in the case of HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray or HDMI vs. DisplayPort.
In the case of MacBook laptops, Apple has decided for one reason or another to do away with HDMI ports and Thunderbird 1 and 2 (essentially Mini DisplayPorts) and stick to Thunderbird 3 (essentially USB-C ports) connections alone. Quite like the audio jack debacle, Apple users again need to adjust in order to be able to connect their MacBooks to their HDTVs.
So does MacBooks Pro and Air have HDMI? Let’s find out the truth.
Check The Output Type of Your MacBook Pro or Air
For simplicity’s sake, let’s cover the latest MacBooks from the last 5-10 years and the latest connections they use, which include the HDMI port, the mDP Thunderbolt 1 to Thunderbolt 2 port, and the USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port.
- MacBook Pro or Air 2015 versus 2016: Most MacBook Pro and Air laptops from 2015 and older have HDMI ports. Otherwise, they may have a Thunderbird 1-2 or MiniDP port you’ll need a MiniDP to HDMI converter or cable adapter for. However, MacBook Pro 2016 and newer or MacBook Air and newer don’t have mDP and/or HDMI ports. Instead, they use USB-C or Thunderbird 3 port so you’ll instead need a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 to HDMI converter instead to connect HDMI displays to your Mac PC.
- Do You Wish to Use an HDTV as Your MacBook Pro Monitor? In order to use your HDTV to mirror the screen on your MacBook Pro or Air, you need to check the port. Does it have HDMI ports? Then you’re good to go. If not, what version of Thunderbird does it use? If it uses Thunderbird version 1 and 2, you need a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI converter. If it uses Thunderbird version 3, you need a USB-C to HDMI cable instead. It all depends on the port or video output type.
After linking your MacBook Pro to your HDTV, switch to the specific port that your Mac is using by programming your HDTV to recognize it (like HDMI Port 1 or Port 2). You should also open the Apple Menu, go to System Preferences, click Sound, click the Output option, and select HDMI or TV. Also, go back to System Preferences, click Displays, click the Displays tab, and then change the resolution as required. Check the box for “scaled” and drag the “Underscan” slider to zoom in or out of the Mac’s screen.
- No Idea Which Thunderbolt Version Is Used for Your MacBook? If you haven’t a clue about the Thunderbolt version supported by your MacBook or which version of MacBook you have, you can check by clicking the Apple icon on your desktop’s top-left corner. From there, go to “About This Mac” and then “Support”. Choose “Specifications”. This will open a web browser page showing you a detailed list of your devices. Scroll down to “Graphics and Video Support”. You will be given details of your display port and which technologies it’s compatible with.
- Get a TV That Works with AirPlay: If you’re using a Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro or Air, there’s a way to wirelessly get it to work with your HDTV with an HDMI connection sans a converter. Use AirPlay. It’s the tech that allows you to use the nearest Apple TV as a wireless monitor for your MacBook Air or Pro using airwaves, like a Wi-Fi connection for those two specific devices. All MacBook Pro or Air laptops made from 2011 or later support AirPlay.
Certain HDTV brands like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung TVs since 2018, Sony TVs made since 2019, certain 2019 LG TVs, and certain VIZIO TV models from 2016 to present can act like an Apple TV and connect to your computer, serving as a mirrored display. To access AirPlay, click the AirPlay icon on the right side of the menu bar. Click on Apple TV from the dropdown menu and choose the nearest AirPlay-compliant HDTV device to serve as your second monitor.
- Reasons to Connect Your MacBook to an HDTV: It’s usually preferred by customers or users to play Netflix or Hulu on an HDTV versus the smaller, more portable default screens of Mac desktops and laptops. Even the iMac G3, which is essentially a CRT monitor with the motherboard inside the monitor itself, can benefit from the bigger screens of another TV set. Connecting your MacBook Pro or Air to a TV allows you to get the functionality of an external monitor by mirroring your PC desktop unto a wider workspace. It also allows you to share presentations, browse the Internet, view pictures, and watch web videos or Netflix on a bigger screen.
- Connecting with Non-HDMI or CRT TVs: You should be aware of several input standards that were recently in use for Mac PC to TV connections from the 1990s to the 2010s. The most common among them are HDMI and VGA. Older CRT TVs use VGA or AV connections for RCA, composite, and component cables. Newer HDTVs use the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) standard but can also use Digital Video Interface (DVI) or DisplayPort (DP).
If your TV only has a VGA port, you can still connect it to a MacBook via converter or adapter. In short, to be able to connect any version of your MacBook to HDTVs or CRTs and so forth, you should be aware of which video ports they have so you can buy an appropriate cable, adapter, or converter for HDMI or VGA connections. Or simply use AirPlay.
As already mentioned, MacBook laptops have shifted from using HDMI and mDP ports 3 years ago to USB-C ports alone nowadays. When did this happen exactly? Around 2016. To be more specific, it came about at the release of the MacBook Pro 2016 Edition. The MacBook Pro and Air have gone through several iterations, so they offer a variety of video display ports from the Micro-DVI (available in the first-ever MacBook Air) to the Thunderbolt series.