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How to connect your iPad to a TV

This first iPad took the world by storm in 2010. Since then, Apple has sold more than 500 million units, which includes the Air, Mini, and Pro variants. While the design has become sleeker and thinner since the tablet’s debut, one aspect hasn’t changed: There’s no dedicated port to output video to a TV.

In this guide, we show you how to connect your iPad to a TV despite the obvious lack of an HDMI port. Our methods include using an Apple TV, an AirPlay 2 TV, and an adapter specific to your iPad model. The methods are easy, allowing you to mirror the iPad or stream content in no time.

Use Apple TV

One costly way to connect an iPad to a TV is to install an Apple TV set-top box, which connects to one of the TV’s HDMI ports. Apple sells two versions: The HD model starting at $149 and the 4K version starting at $179.

Both models support AirPlay, Apple’s proprietary wireless technology for streaming media from one certified device to another. This protocol requires the sender and receiver device to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Apple TV includes mostly everything you can use on an iPad, but there may be times when you want to mirror the tablet so you can troll Facebook on your wall-sized screen. In this scenario, you want to mirror the iPad.

Mirror your iPad

iPad Tap Screen Mirroring

Step 1: Make sure the Apple TV and iPad are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Step 2: Make sure your TV is switched to the correct HDMI port to view the Apple TV screen.

Step 3: On the iPad, swipe down from the right side of the screen to access the Control Center.

Step 4: Tap the Screen Mirroring button, as shown above.

Step 5: Tap on your discovered Apple TV device listed in the pop-up window.

To stop mirroring, do the following:

iPad Stop Mirroring

Step 1: On the iPad, swipe down from the right side of the screen to access the Control Center.

Step 2: Tap the white Apple TV button. It may not say “Apple TV” specifically if you previously named the device, like “Living Room” or “Bedroom,” as shown above.

Step 3: Tap on the Stop Mirroring button.

Share specific media

While Apple TV has a great selection of apps, it doesn’t support everything offered on the iPad. Moreover, you may not be keen on mirroring your iPad’s screen.

iPad YouTube App AirPlay Option

Step 1: Make sure the Apple TV and iPad are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Step 2: Make sure your TV is switched to the correct HDMI port to view the Apple TV screen.

Step 3: On the iPad, find the media that you want to stream to the TV.

Step 4: Tap the AirPlay icon if available. If not, tap the Share icon (a box with an up arrow) first followed by the AirPlay icon.

Step 5: Tap on the discovered Apple TV device.

Step 6: To stop streaming, tap the AirPlay icon located in the bottom left corner.

For example, if you’re watching a YouTube video on your tablet, you can quickly send it to an Apple TV set-top box without having to open the native Apple TV app and hunt down the same video. Here’s how:

Step 1: With the YouTube video open on your iPad, tap the Chromecast icon in the top right corner.

Step 2: Tap the AirPlay & Bluetooth Devices option on the drop-down menu.

Step 3: Tap the target Apple TV device listed in the pop-up window.

Use AirPlay 2

The easiest way to connect an iPad to a TV is to use AirPlay 2. It’s the second generation of Apple’s proprietary wireless technology and part of iOS 11 and newer.

The first-generation AirPlay only allowed iPad owners to connect to their TV using the Apple TV set-top box. Now TV manufacturers are integrating the newer AirPlay 2 protocol into their TVs, eliminating the need for the Apple TV device or annoying adapters and cables.

To see if your TV includes AirPlay 2, visit Apple’s list. The feature didn’t roll out until 2019, so chances are, if your TV was manufactured before then, it doesn’t have built-in AirPlay 2 capabilities.

To connect your iPad to an AirPlay 2-compatible TV, follow the same directions listed in the Apple TV section. The only difference is that the extra set-top box doesn’t reside between your iPad and the TV.

Use an adapter

The third, less-expensive option is to tether your iPad to a TV. Because the tablet doesn’t have the traditional HDMI output, you can’t simply connect a cable and use the TV as a second screen. In this scenario, you’ll need to purchase an adapter, and the kind you get depends on the iPad you own.

There are three different ports used throughout all four tablet variants:

30-pin Dock Connector Lightning USB-C
iPad (Gen 1, 2, 3) iPad (Gen 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
iPad Mini (Gen 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
iPad Air (Gen 1, 2, 3)
iPad Pro (Gen 1, 2)
iPad Air (Gen 4)
iPad Pro (Gen 3, 4)

30-pin Dock Connector

Apple 30-pin Connector

Chances are, you’re not trying to connect one of the first three iPad generations given they’re old as dirt and not supported. It uses Apple’s discontinued 30-pin dock connector, which is long and wide. Originally this connector only supported USB and FireWire, but Apple added video output by the time the first iPads arrived.

While Apple appears to be sold out, there are several third-party adapters on Amazon to connect your decrepit iPad to a TV, like the LECMARK 30-pin to HDMI adapter. However, it requires iOS 9.3 or newer.

Note that the first-generation iPad cannot mirror its screen to a TV.


Apple Lightning Connector

This is a simplified version of Apple’s 30-pin connector, reducing the number to 16. Introduced in 2012, it’s smaller and thinner than its predecessor while the connector itself has eight pins on both sides, meaning either side can face up when inserted into the iPad.

Apple sells a compatible adapter for $49.

There are cheaper third-party models sold through Amazon, like WorldboyU’s Lightning to HDMI Adapter for $20.


Apple USB-C connector

Apple is slowly moving to USB-C, the latest version of the USB interface that, like Apple’s proprietary Lightning interface, supports a dual-sided connector. In a nutshell, USB-C supports high-resolution video output, charging another connected device (think iPhone, iPod Touch) and connecting to multiple devices simultaneously.

At first glance, the Lightning and USB-C ports look nearly identical: Thin, elongated ovals. However, look a little closer and you’ll see they’re designed a bit differently.

Whereas Apple’s Lightning places the 16 pins on the male connector (eight on each side), USB-C places its 24 pins inside the port itself (12 on each side). The USB-C connector could be considered as “female” despite going into the tablet’s port.

You can grab a compatible adapter from Apple for a hefty $69, which adds additional HDMI, USB-C, and USB-A connectivity.

If you don’t need all of that, there are plenty of third-party solutions on Amazon like the Anker USB-C to HDMI Adapter for $13.

Connect your iPad to a TV

Step 1: Connect the adapter to your iPad.

Step 2: Connect an HDMI cable between the adapter and the TV.

Step 3: Switch the TV to the proper HDMI port to display the iPad’s screen.

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Kevin Parrish
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then…
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