Mirroring Your Computer or Mobile Device Screen on Your TV

Even if you have a streaming media player for your TV, you’ll probably find something that you can watch on your computer or mobile device that you can’t get on your streamer. For example, some entertainment websites will make some content available to watch online but not through their streaming app. Or you may want to surf the web on TV. Or maybe you just want to scroll through the amazing photos on Nat Geo’s Instagram feed at a size that really does them justice. In cases like these, you can use various methods to wirelessly mirror your phone, tablet or PC screen on your television screen.

NOTE: Mirroring is different from casting, which lets you do other things on the original screen while watching a video on your TV. When you mirror your computer or mobile device, your TV will be an exact replica of what you’re seeing. It will show interface elements, notifications, everything—just bigger. Likewise, if you’re watching a video and you suddenly decide you want to check your email, that’s what will show up on your TV screen.

What do you need to wirelessly mirror your device screen to your TV?

NOTE: Before I get into the how-to, I have to say that this technology is incredibly hit or miss. Sometimes it works on the first try, sometimes on the third or fourth, and sometimes not at all, even when all the pieces claim to support it.

First you need a device to play the video on that supports mirroring. PCs that run Windows 10 and 8.1 as well as newer Mac computers, iOS devices, and certain models of Android and Amazon Fire OS phones and tablets, have mirroring capabilities. You should check your device’s Settings to see if there’s an option for “screen mirroring” or “display mirroring.” On Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches the feature is called AirPlay but it may only show up as an option if there’s an Apple TV connected to the same network that you can mirror to.

The second thing you need is a device to receive the mirrored image. Some Smart TVs have this capability built into them but most TVs need some kind of device that supports mirroring connected to them. Depending on what you’re mirroring from affects which devices will work for your computer, phone or tablet. The next section provides details about the options available.

NOTE: In most cases, both the sending and the receiving device need to be on the same network. However, the Google Chromecast can work with devices connected to other networks.

Mirroring an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer screen to your TV

This is one of those times that Apple’s notoriously closed ecosystem works to its advantage. Of all the various mirroring technologies I’ve tried, Apple’s AirPlay has worked the most seamlessly. The downside of it is you must have an Apple product on both sides of the process.

According to this Wikipedia article (I couldn’t find the info on Apple’s website, you need an iPod, iPad, or iPhone running iOS 4.2 or higher and a Mac with OS X or higher to send the signal. (There are some additional specs if you want to check them out.)

The main receiver that currently works with AirPlay is the Apple TV streaming media player from generation 2 or beyond.

Read Apple’s instructions for mirroring content from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to your TV. >>

Read Apple’s instructions for mirroring content from your Mac computer to your TV. >>

Mirroring an Android or Amazon Fire device screen to your TV

There are a lot more combinations and permutations involved with mirroring from an Android or Amazon Fire device. (Fire tablets and phones are built on Android, which is why I’m grouping them together.) There are two main technologies used for mirroring from Android: Google Cast and Miracast.

Google Cast

Google makes Android. Google makes Chromecast. So just like Apple devices work well together, Android and Chromecast devices generally work well together.

The system is pretty simple to set up. You install the Google Cast on your mobile device from the Google Play store. You plug the Chromecast into your TV and use the Google Cast app to set it up so that it’s connected to the Internet. (This is necessary even if you’re just mirroring local content from your phone or tablet.)

With the Google Cast app, many other apps will provide casting options. So, for example, you can cast a Netflix video to the Chromecast and then do other stuff on your phone without interrupting the video.

Google Cast also provides a full screen mirroring option. (I’m not 100% sure that it works with all devices.)

NOTE: Because Amazon adapted Android for its own Fire devices, Google Cast only works in limited circumstances. First, the device has to have Fire OS 5 or higher and then you have to go through some machinations to install Google Cast on it. And while some apps still won’t work using native casting (notably Netflix), you can mirror your full display with it, although an error message will pop up warning you it’s not optimized for mirroring.

Miracast

If you do a Google search on Android phones/tablets that support Miracast, you’ll frequently find articles that spout some nonsense about how most devices running Android 4.2 support Miracast. THIS IS NOT TRUE. There are many, many, many Android phones that have Android 4.2 or higher that do not have a screen mirroring option. Usually it’s only the higher end phones that have it.

For example, I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 that has it and an LG Volt 2 that does not. It’s easy enough to find out if your device does have it. It will show up under Settings, usually under Display or Wireless, depending on the manufacturer.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking to buy a device that has this feature, it’s not so easy. For some reason, descriptions of these products often don’t mention the feature, so if it’s not there you can’t assume it doesn’t have it. You can check the Wi-Fi Alliance website that has a product finder where you can filter by Miracast support. However, sometimes it’s hard to find a product by the name only, so you may need to enter the model number.

Of the current lineup of Fire tablet models, only the Fire HD 10 and Fire HDX 8.9 support Miracast. However, the previous generation of the Fire HD 8 and the Fire HDX 7 were both able to as well.

Once you have a device whose screen can be mirrored, you need a device to mirror it to. Here are some of the most popular options:

  • Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The combination of a supported Fire tablet and the Fire TV work the best in my experience (not surprisingly). But Android phones with Miracast theoretically should work with the Fire TV streamers as well. To use it, go to Settings > Display & Sounds > Enable Display Mirroring on the Fire TV and then go to your phone or tablet’s mirroring settings to connect them.
  • Roku. In September 2016, Roku announced a new lineup of streaming boxes. NONE of them support screen mirroring. (Why, Roku… why?) However, the Roku Streaming Stick, which was released earlier in 2016, and the earlier Roku 2, 3, and 4 models all support it as well. The mirroring option is under Settings > System. You need to leave that screen open while you’re mirroring from your computer or device.
  • Miracast adapters. These devices don’t stream content from the Internet; they just do screen mirroring. I have had success with the ScreenBeam Mini 2 and the Belkin models, but there are others out there. When you plug them in, they display instructions on your TV for setting them up and connecting to them.
  • Smart TVs. Several manufacturers make Smart TVs that support Miracast, including Samsung, LG, and the TCL Roku TV. You’ll have to look through its settings to get the specific instructions for mirroring from a mobile device.

Mirroring a Windows 10 or 8.1 PC screen to your TV

Windows-based computers use a technology called Wi-Fi Direct, or WiDi. From what I understand, it’s basically just Intel’s branding of Miracast. You’ll need to have a computer that supports WiDi with the most up-to-date graphics and display adapters.

In my experience, the Roku devices that support mirroring work well with WiDi but I have never been able to mirror my laptop to an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. You can also use the Miracast adapters I mentioned in the section above about Android devices.

With a Windows 10 computer, click the Notifications icon at the bottom right of the taskbar and then click Connect from the popup settings. With a Windows 8.1 computer, you open the charm bar, click Devices, and then click Project.

You’ll be presented with a list of devices it finds and you can click on the one you want to mirror to. Your computer’s screen will now appear on the TV. (You may need to change the projection mode to Duplicate, if that’s not the default).

NOTE: Occasionally this doesn’t work for me with my existing Roku connection. In that case, what I do is click Disconnect, then click Add a Wireless Display to create a new one.

To stop the mirroring, you can either click a key on your device’s remote to bring up an option to disconnect, or disconnect it from the Connect or Project menu on your computer.

Nyrius ARIES Prime Wireless Video HDMI Transmitter & Receiver

I’ve been using Nyrius products for several years to transmit the signal from my cable box wirelessly to a TV in another room where there is no cable outlet. Recently, I decided to check out their system for mirroring my PC to my TV. And it works great!

The system comes with a transmitter and a receiver. You plug the transmitter, which looks like one of the streaming sticks, into an HDMI port on your computer and connect the included USB cable to a USB port to power it. You connect the receiver, which is a small box, to your TV with an HDMI cable and plug it into the wall with the included power adapter.

Then turn on your TV, go to the HDMI input the receiver is connected to, and press the Pair button on the receiver. My PC screen came up immediately and the lag is virtually non-existent. In fact, I’m using it while I’m writing this post and I can see the typing as quickly as I see it on my laptop screen.

The main downside to this solution is the cost. It’s a lot more expensive than the other options listed on this page. A couple of other things to note:

  • The maximum range of the signal for the Prime model is 30 ft and requires line of sight between the transmitter and the receiver. They also make a Pro model with a maximum range of 100ft.
  • With my laptop, the transmitter gets very hot. But my laptop gets very hot, so I’m not sure if it would get so hot on another computer.
  • Because the transmitter has an HDMI connector, if your computer doesn’t have an HDMI port, you will need to see if you can get an adapter for one of the other ports. For example, I have a USB C port on my computer, and I am able to use the USB C to HDMI adapter shown below. You can also get display port to HDMI adapters for Windows and Macs; you just need to check which ports your computer has to see which adapter you’ll need.

Mirroring to a Chromecast Using Chrome

The latest version of the desktop Chrome browser has Google Cast built into it. When you open Chrome, it has a Cast option in the Settings menu. When you click it, you can click the Down arrow to choose to cast the tab you’re currently on, which will let you work on other things without affecting what’s on the TV, or your entire desktop, which is like the other forms of screen mirroring. In my experience, the quality of the mirroring isn’t as good as the other options, but it has gotten better and I’m sure it will continue to do so.

A quick word about wired connections

If none of the wireless options listed above will work for you, there’s always the possibility of connecting your computer, tablet, or phone to your TV using an HDMI cable.

For Apple products, it’s pretty straightforward. You just need to get an adapter with the correct Lightning or 30-pin to HDMI adapter for your iPhone, iPad, etc. or Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter for your MacBook or iMac.

But if you think the wireless options for Android are confusing, the wired ones are even worse! So rather than try to explain them myself (mainly because I still don’t understand parts of it), I’ll link you here to what is the best explainer I’ve found so far about your Android options from PC Advisor in the UK.

How to connect Android to TV: How to view your phone or tablet screen on a TV

I can confirm, however, that I have successfully used this cable with my Samsung Galaxy S5 to mirror its screen on my TV.

As for Windows PC to TV if the computer doesn’t have an HDMI out port…? I still haven’t figured that one out. 🙁

You may also be interested in:

Streaming Media: Frequently Asked Questions

Elizabeth Kricfalusi

View Comments

  • Hi, I'm a little confused about how Chromecast handles mirroring. If I am mirroring my Chrome browser on Android does that mean my Android phone will have to be streaming over mobile data, since Chromecast is using the wifi connection?

    • Hi Kevin.

      It's definitely confusing. When you mirror from your phone, you don't do it through the Chrome browser. That's just for computers. Instead, you install the Home app on your Android phone and there's an option there to mirror your entire screen to the Chromecast. That could be your Chrome browser, but it can be anything else that displays on your screen as well.

      To use screen mirroring, you actually need to have your phone connected to the Internet via the same Wi-Fi network that your Chromecast is connected to. You can't do it with your mobile data.

      I hope that clarifies things.

      - Elizabeth

      • Hi, thanks so much for the reply. I didn't mean "through" my Chrome browser, but that I want to mirror the Chrome browser on my TV - anyway, you've cleared up my query about wifi, thanks

  • You’ll be presented with a list of devices it finds and you can click on the one you want to mirror to. Your computer’s screen will now appear on the TV. (You may need to change the projection mode to Duplicate, if that’s not the default).
    Unfortunately this is a total hit and miss for me with a Lenovo Ideapad and a Samsung Smart TV. When it works it is seamless, as you said, but I never know . Couldn’t connect or That didn’t work are the demons of my mirroring experiences.

    • Hi Terry.

      Yes, I don't know why this technology is so unreliable compared to other ones. It's definitely frustrating...

      - Elizabeth

  • I was straggling to watch my favorite cricket match on my Iphone, this piece of content helped me a lot. Thanks

    • Hi Bryan.

      You can't mirror an iPhone to a Fire TV Stick. You can only mirror it to an Apple TV device.

      - Elizabeth

  • I have tried and didn't work. It tries to connect but within 10 seconds or so, I get a message that says "disconnecting/ending". I think Amazon fire stick is preventing mirroring with Windows on purpose.

  • Hi, I was able to project/mirror my PC windows 10 and my phone to my Samsung Smart Tv until a few weeks ago. After an update on windows the connection with the Tv doesn't work anymore and I am sure it's the PC since the mirroring through the mobile phone still works perfectly. Any ideas how this could happen?

    (I think the update changed something in the intel software I had installed for wireless connections since it doesn't kick in when I try to project the screen anymore, but I am not an expert)

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Claudio.

      Yes, it probably has to do with the wireless display adapter. If you right-click the Windows icon at the bottom left of your computer, you'll see a menu with Device Manager. Click on that and then click on Display Adapters in the dialog box that pops up. It should list your Intel adapter. Right-click on that and click Update Driver Software.

      If that doesn't solve the problem, you can right-click on your adapter name and select Properties. Click the Driver tab and you can see if there's an option to roll back to an earlier driver. If not, you can also try clicking the Disable button and then it will change to Enable. Click again to reset the driver.

      If none of those work, you may need to get a Miracast adapter as described in this post.

      I hope that helps!

      - Elizabeth

  • HI, I want know if is possible do this...i have movies on my laptop with windows 10 and i want watch the movies from my computer on my tv

    what things i need?

    i have wifi internet connection a tv vizio with hdmi port...

    i was see about fire stick and other products....

    please can you help me

    THANKS FOR YOUR TIME
    VICTOR SANTOME

  • They have cables that connect your vga output to your hdmi input. There's also an AV to hdmi converter box available. Both products can be found at sites like Amazon and Ebay.

  • How can you stream or cast from an android phone or tablet directly to your tv using amazon fire stick without being on a wifi network. No one seems to have this info or addresses this issue. Is this possible or not?

    • Hi Jim.

      What kind of content are you talking about? If it's something saved to your phone or tablet, then you could send it to your TV IF your phone/tablet has a display mirroring feature (also called Miracast or, sometimes, Second Screen). You would still need to have set up your Fire TV Stick using Wi-Fi to begin but once it's set up, you wouldn't need Wi-Fi for mirroring.

      If you're trying to cast something that's on the Internet, like a Netflix video, I think you should be able to mirror or cast the content if your phone is connected via cell service, but I don't currently have a phone with casting abilities to be able to confirm that. I have one on order, though, so I'll test it out when I get it.

      I hope that helps!

      - Elizabeth

  • I am using a Chromecast 2 and I have no problem at all to cast my pc screen (Windows 10 but has noting to do with the windows) and play movies thru Videostream. I believe you have to add the Chromecast function to the Fire stick to use like a Chromecast.

    • Hi Alex.

      Are you saying that you're watching movies with a Chromecast without using the Chrome browser on your Windows PC? And I'm not aware of any way to add Chromecast to a Fire TV Stick, but you can use it like a Chromecast (sort of) with a Kindle Fire tablet.

      - Elizabeth

Recent Posts

T4L Monthly Update: February 2019

CES 2019, FaceTime bug, streaming the Super Bowl, Wi-Fi calling for Android phones.

4 years ago

Top Tech Stocking Stuffers

Big-ticket electronics get all the attention, but these little extras are always appreciated.

5 years ago

Four Ways to Access Control Panel in Windows 10

Microsoft is doing its darndest to hide the classic Control Panel from Windows 10 users.…

5 years ago