How to Hook up Your TV: A TV Port Guide

Your TV has more ports and jacks than you know what to do with, but you know that connecting your TV to other devices can enhance your viewing experience. Where do you even begin? Which cords do you need? Take a look at this guide to get started.

Table of Contents

  • General Introduction: Get Your TV Connected
  • How to Hook up a TV to a Sound System
  • How to Add an Antenna to a TV
  • How to Connect a Computer to a TV
  • How to Cast a Smartphone or Tablet to a TV
  • How to Hook up a Gaming Console to a TV
  • How to Connect a DVR to a TV


Do more with your TV by connecting it to a supplementary device! You can add speakers to your TV, connect an antenna for local channels and even cast your phone screen to the TV for easier viewing. Before you do that, though, you have to figure out how to make that connection happen. This post can help you decide which cords you may need to accomplish your TV connection goals.

Port your tv for better entertainment

General Introduction: Get Your TV Connected

TVs are often integral parts of the buildings they are in. TV zones in the home can be places where household members bond, and in offices they can be places where coworkers can team up around visual content. No matter what you need your TV for, you can get more out of it by connecting your TV to supplemental devices. To get started, you need to take a look at what ports (or cord input) options are physically present on your TV set. If your TV is mounted or in a position so that you can’t see, then just check your user manual.

Assess both your TV and connected device for available ports and then get the cord that is the best fit. If the ports on your TV and connected device do not match up, find an adapter. Before purchasing an adapter, though, make sure to do a bit of research to ensure that it will work with your particular devices and purposes. For example, some third-party adapters that connect a smart device to your TV do not allow users to play content from streaming platforms like Netflix or Hulu. You may wish to be informed about that if your ultimate goal was to view those streaming services on your TV.

Before continuing, we would like to note that a cord that you should be most familiar with is the High-Definition Media Input (or HDMI) cord. This cord is often the answer to the question “How do I connect this to my TV?” It is currently the most useful and versatile of all the potential cords available and will be able to help you connect your TV to most modern devices. For example, an HDMI cord can be used to connect your TV to modern game consoles, streaming devices, DVRs, computers, media players, sound systems and more. It has the ability to digitally transmit both audio and sound to your TV without compressing or distorting information. We will remind you that an HDMI cord should be your first consideration in each section on this page, but we will also mention other cords and ports that can help keep your TV connected the way you want. This could be helpful information in case you run out of ports or if your TV doesn’t have any HDMI ports at all.

There are two main purposes for connecting your TV to another device: video and audio connections.

Video Connections:
Your TV doesn’t produce images by itself. It needs to have input from other sources first before it can have anything to show you. You may want to connect your TV to a DVD or Blu-ray device or another media player to obtain the videos you want to see on your TV. Other sources for video might be DVRs, gaming consoles, computers and more.

Audio Connections:
If your TV doesn’t produce high-quality sound or if your video needs some enhanced audio to go along with it, then you’ll want to connect your TV to some type of audio source. You can connect your TV to speakers or even to headphones to keep the audio to yourself.

General List of Cords and Their Uses
Cord TypeCan Transmit AudioCan Transmit VideoOther
HDMIXXVariety of uses
Coaxial Digital AudioX
Optical DigitalX
RCA Stereo/AudioX
DVIXConnect a computer
VGAXConnect a computer
Antenna In / Coaxial IECXXConnect an antenna
USBXXVariety of uses

How to Hook up a TV to a Sound System

Cable Options for the Job:

  • HDMI cord
  • Coaxial digital cable
  • Optical audio cable
  • RCA audio cable
  • Aux/headphone cable
  • USB cable
How to set up a sound system to your tv

If you’re looking to augment the audio of your TV with an external sound system, you’ll want to check which ports are available on your TV. For example, the Optimum Amplify device includes the required 3.5 audio to optical cord to connect it to a TV. Like plenty of other setups in this post, there are many ways to accomplish this task which all depend on the ports available on each of your devices. See the list in this section for cord options to help you hook a stable sound system up to your TV.

For Portable Speakers:
You’ll probably still need to connect the speakers through a wire. Many of these speakers have an aux/headphone jack which, if available as a port option on your TV, you can use.

For Headphones:
If you enjoy watching your favorite show or gaming online at odd hours and you want to avoid waking others, you can output your TV’s audio to a set of headphones. You could opt for a headphone jack if your TV has the appropriate port, but unless you have a very long cord, you’ll be sitting directly in front of the TV. A better option would be to try to use Bluetooth-compatible headphones. If your TV doesn’t already have a Bluetooth receiver of some sort, you’ll need to set one up. You can use general Bluetooth transmitters which create a Bluetooth signal where there wasn’t one before so you can connect to the TV from wherever you are in the room.

How to Add an Antenna to a TV

Cables for the Job:

  • HDMI cord
  • Antenna In / Coaxial IEC connector
  • USB cable (Some antennas come with a USB cord instead of the traditional TV cords.)

One way to fill your TV with entertainment is to use it to access your area’s local channels. You can watch the news that pertains to you as well as programs that let your local culture shine. To get these local channels, you can purchase a TV antenna to connect to your TV.

Before purchasing, be sure to check that the antenna comes with a cable that is compatible with your device. If the correct cable is not provided to you, search for a new antenna or find an adapter. After you have purchased an antenna, follow the product’s instructions for installation and secure your antenna in an elevated spot that is free of obstructions.

How to Connect a Computer to a TV

Cables for the Job:

  • Full-sized HDMI cord
  • Mini- or Micro-HDMI cord
  • DVI cord
  • Thunderbolt connector
  • Mini- or Full-sized DisplayPort
  • VGA cord
  • USB-C cable

Although your laptop may be the primary place where you can stream your favorite shows from any of your chosen subscription services, it’s not always fun to peer into your computer screen for hours on end. Instead, you can connect your TV to your computer so you can have a fuller viewing experience! Another reason you might wish to connect your computer to your TV might be to show your most recent travel photos to a roomful of friends or to model the use of a website or presentation to coworkers.

How to stream tv from your phone to the television

How to Cast a Smartphone or Tablet to a TV

Cables for the Job:

  • Casting Device (i.e. Chromecast, AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, etc.)
  • For Android: HDMI to USB-C cable (or HDMI to micro USB for older models)
  • For Apple: HDMI cord and a Lightning digital AV adapter

Once again, streaming your favorite shows on your phone is wonderful in a pinch, but it isn’t always pleasant (or good for your eyes) to watch your phone for extended periods of time. There are a few options to enlarge the size of your streamed show, workout video or YouTube playlist from the size of your smartphone or tablet to the size of your TV screen. Once again, though, remember to vet your adapter with some research. Off-brand or third-party adapters sometimes come with legal restrictions that do not allow users to enjoy content from streaming platforms.

Cordless Connections:
Although it is possible to connect your phone or tablet to the TV with a cord, it’s not exactly the best solution if you’d like to sit across the room from your TV and still have your device in your hand (unless you extend the cord across the room, which could be hazardous). Instead, you can benefit from a variety of casting devices that plug into your TV so you can wirelessly connect your smartphone or tablet to your TV. These options include Chromecast, AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick and more.

How to Hook up a Gaming Console to a TV

Cables for the Job:

  • HDMI cord (for modern consoles only)
  • Component cable
  • S-Video cable
  • RCA Coaxial cable

Any non-portable gaming console will require a connected TV screen in order to interface with it. You may have to be crafty about how you make it happen, though! There is a difference between modern and previous-generation consoles as far as available options to hook them up. For example, an HDMI port will not be available on retro gaming consoles like a Sony PlayStation Classic or a Sega Genesis Mini. More current-generation consoles will be using an HDMI connection to help you game on your TV.

How to Connect a DVR to a TV

Cables for the Job:

  • HDMI cord
  • Coaxial cable
  • DVI cable
  • Component cable
  • S-Video cable

Once you have connected your DVR with a coax cable to the cable outlet in the wall, your next step is to connect your device to your TV. Check with the company supplying you with your DVR first. This section includes some popular cord options, but the connection needs for a DVR vary by brand.

Frequently asked questions

What does it mean to “cast a device”?

When you connect one device with a screen to another device with a screen so that both screens show the same or connected content, you are “casting” information from one device to the screen of another.

What happens if my TV doesn’t have ports that match up to the device I want to connect to it?

Try to find a reputable adapter that will adapt the connection between mismatched ports. Whenever possible, try to find an HDMI-adapting device for the best quality. Always research your adapter to make sure that it will permit you to do everything you’d like to do with your connection.

Can I connect my phone to my TV?

Yes! You can either connect it with a cord that has an HDMI port on one end and a phone-compatible port on the other, or you can use a casting device to make the connection possible.

Written by Sarah Solomon

Edited by Henry St. Pierre

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