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Indiana Wesleyan University Support Knowledge Base

How to Connect a Laptop to a Display Using a Signal Cable


This page shows the common connections (VGA, HDMI) for connecting a portable or mobile electronic device to a monitor, projector, a flat panel TV, or a teaching station, in order to show the visual and audio content from the laptop or tablet to a larger group of people. It also shows types of adapters that can be used with these common connections so that you are able to use any type of connection. Example: If you would like to use a HDMI cable but, do not have the port on your computer for it you can get an adapter to a port that is on your computer.

For photos and descriptions of the common types of adapters, click here: ADAPTERS

Connection Types


Some laptops have this connection available if not you will need a DisplayPort (or thunderbolt/MiniDisplayPort) to HDMI adapter. Some newer devices have an HDMI connection built into the computer. HDMI is used to connect Digital High Def video and audio sources to display sources. HDMI plays sound through the main connection, so no AUX cord connection is needed. (See image below)   

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.15.59 PM.png


DisplayPorts are found on most IWU -issued Windows laptops, and can be used with an adapter to connect either a VGA or HDMI cable to the flat panel display. DisplayPort is similar to HDMI, but it is better for computer displays.  (Reference picture below for image of a DisplayPort). 

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.16.50 PM.png Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.17.17 PM.png

MiniDisplayPort (Thunderbolt)

MiniDisplayPorts are associated with some Mac models, and some HP Z-book laptops. It can be a way to connect HDMI or VGA to a computer by using an adapter if you do not have a HDMI or VGA connection. (Reference picture below for image of a MiniDisplayPort/Thunderbolt).

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.16.57 PM.png Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.16.41 PM.png

USB-3 Type C

These can be used to charge electronics or transfer data from one device to another. It can also be used to connect a new Macbook Air, newer tablets and cell phones to a display. You can get an adaptor that can be used with USB and HDMI connectors  (See USB-3 Type C, shown below).

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.17.06 PM.png Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.17.12 PM.png


Many older laptops have the ability to connect a VGA cable to the laptop. If you have one of these connectors, you will need a mini DisplayPort (Thunderbolt) or DisplayPort to VGA adapter or a USB-C to VGA adapter. This connector is used to connect computer video displays. If sound is required, a separate audio connection is required, typically plugged into your headphone jack.  The image below is of a VGA (male) connector, which would connect to a computer and to a display. 


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