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How to connect and stream your iPad to a TV

Going wireless is typically the best approach, but there are reasons to use a cable.
By

Published onMarch 28, 2023

While an iPad can be excellent for watching shows and movies — especially when traveling — David Lynch is right, things are better on the big screen. Here’s how to connect your iPad to a TV for a more immersive experience.

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You can use AirPlay or Google Cast to stream wirelessly, or connect an HDMI cable via a compatible iPad adapter. With the wired approach, resolution and refresh rate will depend on what the TV, cable, adapter, and iPad support in unison.

How to connect your iPad to a TV

AirPlay

Using AirPlay to watch Foundation on a TV

This method is usually preferable, since it’s wireless and baked into iPads and iPhones. You can read more about how to use it in our AirPlay guide. The gist is that it allows you to push audio, photos, and video from compatible apps, of which there are many. Even when an app doesn’t specifically support it you can use Screen Mirroring, which replicates everything on your display. It’s best to use standard AirPlay whenever possible though, unless you want system sounds and interface elements to appear.

If there’s a catch, it’s just that you need AirPlay support on your TV, whether natively or through an added Apple TV 4K. Thankfully, most recent TVs do offer native AirPlay — it’s just a matter of configuring it in settings. Check your manufacturer’s website for instructions.

Google Cast

The Google Cast icon

This is Google’s equivalent of AirPlay, and potentially better, since many TVs and media streamers support it without any special configuration. If you see the Google Cast icon in an app, just tap on it, select your TV, and you’re off to the races. YouTube even supports queuing multiple videos.

Feel free to switch between this or AirPlay at will.  The only real downside is that on iPads, you can’t use Google Cast for screen mirroring.

Using a cable

The Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

A wired connection is less than ideal unless you want to use your TV as a makeshift monitor, since it behaves much like AirPlay Screen Mirroring without the convenience. It does eliminate any wireless lag, however, and compatible iPad Pro and Air models can use Stage Manager to shift windows between their iPad and the TV.

Follow these steps:

  • Connect a compatible HDMI adapter to your iPad’s charging port — Apple’s official options include the USB-C Display AV Adapter (pictured) and the Lightning Digital AV Adapter, depending on what port your iPad uses. Third party adapters are also available, but doublecheck iPad support.
  • Connect an HDMI cable from the adapter to your TV.
  • Switch your TV to the correct input. Some TVs may switch automatically when they detect a signal.
  • If necessary, open your TV’s settings menu to adjust picture quality.

It’s also worth noting that resolution and refresh rate will depend on what your TV, adapter, HDMI cable, and iPad support in tandem. The USB-C Display AV Adapter, for example, supports 4K output with a 60Hz refresh rate, but only when connected to 11-inch and recent 12.9-inch iPad Pros. If you’ve got a 4th gen iPad Air, you’re limited to 4K at 30Hz, or 1080p at 60Hz.