A projector is becoming a must-have these days. Not everyone likes a large TV, but a lot of people try to create a cinema experience in their homes. There are so many types of projectors now, starting with large, old, powerful ones and finishing with the thinnest ones like a phone.
After buying a projector, there comes another mission – connecting it to your device.
Different phones require different functionality and actions, as well as different laptops.
To make it easier for everyone struggling, we’ve created a guide to connecting a projector to a laptop, an Android device, and the iPhone or another Apple device. There’s also a FAQ section with some troubleshooting tips!
Things You Will Need to Connect a Device to a Projector
The list depends on the device and the adapters you will need. But basically, you’ll need:
- A device with movies to watch or presentations to show;
- A projector;
- An adapter;
- A video cable;
- A stereo system that connects by wires, via Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth;
- A stable Internet connection;
- A pinch of patience and a dash of motivation.
How to Connect a Laptop or Phone to a Projector
If you’re doing it for the first time, the process might seem confusing. However, with some practice, you’ll do it in minutes afterward. First of all, we’ll talk about regular laptops, and then about Macbooks.
Connecting a Laptop to a Projector
Take note that not all setups are the same, and your laptop might need more settings altered. If you can’t find a solution here or on other sources, don’t give up! Contact a local specialist or a friend who can help.
Here are the basic steps:
- Turn off both the laptop and the projector;
- Take your video cable and connect the projector to the video port on your laptop. If you’re not sure where it is or what cable to use, refer to the user manual of your laptop (but the cable is usually VGA);
- Turn the projector on by plugging it in and pushing the Power On/On/etc. button until it shows “signs of life”;
- Now turn the laptop on (we’re sure you know how to do that!);
- For the sound system, you can use the laptop’s native speakers or take an audio cable and connect it to the sound out port of the laptop and to external speakers (or the projector if it has decent speakers);
- Now, this step is optional and depends on your equipment, but usually, you have to sync the devices by pressing the Fn (Function) button and then F4, F5, F7, or F8. Refer to the user manual or look online for more information on your model;
- Play the presentation or movie and see if there are any issues.
Hopefully, there will be none!
Connecting a Macbook to a Projector
Connecting a Macbook is similar, but you will most probably need an adapter since this is an Apple product:
- Turn on the laptop;
- Plug the projector in and turn it on;
- Connect the VGA or HDMI cable (or the video cable suitable for your equipment). Make sure you have a Mac adapter nearby to ensure successful connection;
- After the connection is established, visit the Apple Menu and find the System Preferences section there;
- Find the Displays icon and try to detect a display. If everything is fine, the projector will be detected, and the devices will be synchronized.
Also, if you can’t detect the projector, there’s something you can do about it:
- Go to the Displays section again;
- Find the Arrangement tab and click on it;
- In the lower left-hand corner, there should be a box called Mirror Displays; check it.
Then, wait for about 10 seconds for the function to start working. After that, you should be able to see the needed image both on the laptop and projector screens.
Connecting an Android Phone to a Projector
There are several methods of connecting your Android device to a projector. Some of them are wired, some are wireless. We’ll go through each one, step-by-step.
Wireless Connection via Chromecast
This is the easiest kind of connection. It will work if the projector you own supports HDMI connection (and if you have Chromecast, of course). This is a device that allows you to stream on a TV or projector screen without any wires connected to the phone.
Here’s what to do:
- Plug the Chromecast into the port on your projector;
- Disable power-saving modes and apps on your phone to make sure the image quality is OK;
- Download the Google Home app if you don’t have it on the phone;
- Open the app and find the Accounts tab;
- Find the Mirror Device tab and tap on it;
- Tap the Cast Screen/Audio option and choose the Chromecast from the list of devices;
- Voila, you’re connected.
If a pop-up window with a warning about your phone not being adapted to casting shows up, just press OK and proceed. It should stream well anyway.
Wireless Connection via Miracast and Wi-Fi Direct
While Miracast was abandoned by Android after Marshmallow came out, some devices still support the option. In any way, it works via Wi-Fi Direct, but we will review both methods.
To make sure Miracast will work, check if the box or user manuals of either of the devices (phone and projector) states that they support this kind of connection. If there’s no information, try this:
- Look for a mirroring function on your projector;
- Use an app like Castto or any similar one to connect the devices;
- If this doesn’t work, try Wi-Fi Direct.
To use Wi-Fi Direct, do the following steps (they may be a bit different with the newest devices):
- Find out if your projector supports the feature;
- Unlock the phone and swipe down to see the notification tab and additional quick functions;
- Choose Settings; if you don’t have the icon there, access the phone’s settings in another convenient way;
- Choose Connections, Network, or another option that opens all possible connections;
- Find the Wi-Fi tab and turn the connection on;
- Find the Wi-Fi Direct function. It will be right in the Wi-Fi menu, or you may have to look at it in another tab, such as Preferences or Advanced;
- The scanning will start in a second, and if you can find the projector on the list, the feature works, and you can start streaming.
If neither of these works, and you have an Android device other than Samsung, the only choices are manufacturer applications and wired connection. But first, let’s talk about Samsung’s feature called Smart View.
Wireless Connection for Samsung Phones Via Smart View
Samsung devices have a Smart View feature that can be found in the notification part as you swipe down. Here’s how to use it:
- Tap on the function;
- Your Samsung will automatically start the scanning for any available devices;
- If you find the projector, pair with it and start streaming.
Wireless Connection via Manufacturer Applications
Another type of helpers for a wireless connection is an application for your Android phone made by the projector manufacturer. Panasonic, Epson, and other large companies have such apps for the newer models of their projecting devices.
Note that this option is most suitable if you need to show a presentation or a photo album. Maybe the future versions will allow video playback.
Wired Connection Using a Cable
A wired connection might not be the most convenient choice, but it’s the most effective if you’re not sure any of the other methods will work. You will need the right cable for that, though. First of all, see what charger you use for the Android device: a micro-USB or a type-C one. Then, get an adapter for your charger and the HDMI cable on the other end.
The newest phones more often than not use the USB-C charger. Just connect the cable to your phone and projector. Before buying the cable, make sure the latter supports such a connection.
This is it! Now you can start the movie night!
However, remember that in this case, you won’t be able to charge the phone, so the time of the party will be limited. But there’s another way – MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link).
To make sure the phone is charging, you’ll have to use the port on the projector that has the MHL label on it. Otherwise, it will work as a regular cable. The phone should also support MHL. You can find out if it does in the user manual or online.
The only thing to do when using wired connections is to actually connect the cable to both devices, choosing the right ports.
Connecting an iPhone or an iPad to a Projector
Any iOS device can be connected to a projector in the same way. You will need an adapter for a VGA cable or a Digital AV. If you don’t have one, remember, there are several types. It’s better to look online and see which one is the best for your model.
The AirPlay function works very well for any secondary screen connection if you want to go wireless. Here’s what to do to connect the cable in a regular way:
- Plug the cable adapter to the charger port on your device;
- Connect the cable to the adapter;
- Connect the other end of the cable to the projector; make sure you choose the right port;
- Turn the projector on;
- If the projection doesn’t start in several seconds, try to switch the source of display on the projector if there is such an option.
There’s a chance to charge your phone along with playing videos or presentations while it’s connected. The possibility depends on the adapter you choose. If it has an additional Lighting connector, you’ll be able to charge while watching!
In case a problem occurs, see if you can find the solution here:
- There’s no audio. If you’re using the Digital AV adapter, the sound should come out. If it’s the VGA type, just connect to the stereo system on your projector using the headset jack;
- There’s no video or audio. The app you’re using to watch the content might not be able to connect through the adapter. To make sure this is the problem, contact the customer support of the application or check using App Store;
- You see a pop-up warning that the connection requires a device compatible with HDCP. This means the content you’re trying to project isn’t compatible with the adapter type you’re using. Some media content needs High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection. This problem usually occurs if you’re using the VGA cable.
Some minor issues can be temporary errors. Just recommend the whole sequence and try again. Check if the cable and/or the adapter are intact and properly working. It’s also worth updating your iOS if you use the older version.
FAQ About Connecting Your Devices to a Projector
Here, we’ll highlight some of the most common issues and questions about device and projector connection. You can add your experiences and tips in the comments section!
The connection is lost after 20 minutes of watching; what’s the issue?
Usually, the answer is the most obvious – battery power. The consumption jumps much higher than you think when the phone is connected to a projector and is playing a video. If you have a power-saving mode on when the battery drops to 20%, 10%, etc., it will most likely disconnect the laptop or phone from all devices that aren’t “vital,” like headphones.
Make sure the power-saving mode is off and find a way to charge the device while viewing.
I can’t achieve the dual display even after using the function buttons. What’s wrong? There’s a “No Input” error.
The newer laptops have special capabilities of their video cards that don’t allow troubleshooting, using the function button combinations. Such devices should have some sort of advanced settings for displays where you can choose the primary screen and achieve dual display. If this doesn’t work, you’ll have to activate the external VGA port.
The projector doesn’t catch the signal; why is that?
Here’s the first tip to remember: turn on the projector first if connecting it to the computer. This might not be vital with the latest versions, but if there’s a problem with the connection or image, this trick might work.
If using a laptop, you may also need to make the projector your primary screen. The methods might vary from model to model, but usually, here’s what you have to do:
- Go through the function keys (F1, F2, etc.) on the keyboard and see one with a small monitor on it; there may also be letters LCD or CRT on it;
- Find the Fn (function) button on the keyboard, press it and hold;
- Press the key with the monitor or the letters, and you’ll make the projected image the primary screen for the device.
I need a remote mouse on the projecting image; how do I achieve this?
This depends on the projector you’re using. The user’s manual should provide you with the information, and if you don’t have it on hand, refer to the online guide.
Most modern projectors have the feature if a remote mouse cable is connected to the laptop. Just connect the cable between the two devices.
If the mouse doesn’t show up, see if you have proper drivers (if using Windows):
- Turn off the connection;
- Go to Control Panel and look for mouse settings;
- Check the driver;
- If you see the name of the cable (PS/2, Serial), everything should be fine;
- Now turn on the equipment.
If you have a Macbook, just load the device without any extensions.
The laptop screen goes black, but the image is alright on the screen. What should I do?
Usually, most laptops support dual screens. This means you can see the image both on your laptop and the projector screen. But if something goes wrong, you should refer to the primary screen setting. Press Fn and the function key that is responsible for the monitor. This should resolve the problem.
What is a stuck or dead pixel on a projector?
A stuck or dead pixel is a small 1-pixel dot on the screen that is always the same color. The color depends on the panel where the pixel is stuck. It’s either red, blue, or green. If it’s one dot, there should be no problem because it doesn’t distort the image too much. But if you have a lot of those, it’s better to visit a service center, because the situation may become worse with time.
Bringing Movie Nights to a New Level
There are lots of ways to connect your device to a projector. They’re all worth trying if you’re preparing for a movie night. More and more people opt for a home-based cinema experience, so you should have a connection that will work anytime.
So, did you like the tutorials? Have you tried any of these? We have, as well as our friends, turning our rooms and backyards into cozy, warm cinemas. Make sure to comment on your successes and failures, and tips you might have that will become a great addition to the article.
Don’t forget to share with your friends and let them know they can also bring the term “movie night” to a new level!