Advice for Apple MacBook Video Out: Mini DisplayPort

Apple is a great company with excellent products, and I am a loyal customer. One main criticism would be the lucrative monopoly Apple has in changing specialized video outputs of new products every few years.

iPod Video Out: Earlier versions of the video iPod allowed for many brands of adapter cables to connect and watch videos on a TV. In 2007, Apple locked the TV Out feature of video-capable iPods, preventing users from outputting iPod content to their TV sets with former adapter cables. Customers are now limited to 2 iPod video adapter cables for $50.00 thru Apple which carry the necessary computer chip. In 2008, Apple locked the charging function of new iPod models, preventing users from being able to charge without an Apple brand cable or docking station.

MacBook Video Out: Apple laptops formerly provided several video output options. As of 2009, all new MacBooks provide only the Mini DisplayPort video output. This is profitable for Apple as most folks will purchase adapters directly thru the company. Unfortunately, Apple only provides 2 video adapters for MacBooks at this point (VGA or DVI). The TV adapter cable only works with HDTV and will not work with older technology. This will encourage most folks to eventually upgrade to HDTV.

I contacted Apple Customer care to see if the company will provide any other video adapter options for the Mini DisplayPort in the future, but there is no news at this point. As for blogs and online forums concerning Apple video outputs, there seems to be some disagreement on what’s going on out there. It usually takes time for 3rd party companies to catch up with new technology.

I explored online and came upon some great options. The sites below offer more options than Apple currently for adapters/cables and at lower prices.

As for charging newer iPods, check out:

For Mini DisplayPort Video Output to a Monitor or Projector, you will need the following 2 items:
Mini DisplayPort to VGA Female Adapter Cable for $12.12.
VGA Monitor Cable (Male to Male) for $4.89.

For Mini DisplayPort Video Output to an older TV (RCA inputs), you will need the following 2 items:
Mini DisplayPort to VGA Female Adapter Cable for $12.12.
VideoSecu PC Laptop Mac Computor to TV Presentation Converter, VGA to Video VGA2TV 1L7 for $18.89 (unit requires a USB Power Adapter).

For Mini DisplayPort Video Output to HDTV, you will need the following 2 items:
PTC Premium Mini-DisplayPort Male to DVI Female Adapter Cable for $6.95.
DVI to HDMI Cable 6ft Male-Male for $1.99.

I hope this is helpful to you. Best regards.


22 comments on “Advice for Apple MacBook Video Out: Mini DisplayPort

  1. Micah Clausen says:

    Very helpful, thank you.

  2. S Augustine says:

    Many thanks for sharing your knowledge and research especially for the older TV option AND providing the links with the photos.

  3. rick says:

    I have a recent model macbook with a mini display port. I would like to connect it to an Epson projector. The projector has a USB port but only supports PC’s.It also has an HDMI connection. Will a mini display port to hdmi cable work or am I stuck with the VGA connection? I would like a digital signal that takes advantage of the highest resolution possible.

    • joshberrus says:

      Hi Rick. Good to hear from you.

      I think the following 2 items would be effective as long as your HDMI projector input corresponds.
      PTC Premium Mini-DisplayPort Male to DVI Female Adapter Cable for $9.33.
      DVI to HDMI Cable 6ft Male-Male for $1.34.

      A video expert friend also has some thoughts. He writes the following:
      My first thought is that they don’t make projectors that are only compatible to one type of computer platform. My guess is that the USB is for hooking up a still/video camera, not a computer. I don’t know of any computer that uses USB to display video signal. They do make a mini display port to HDMI adapter, and that would certainly be better than mini port to VGA. Honestly though, if he wants the highest quality video from his mac he’s going to need to buy a projector that has a DVI input. DVI is the native video output of a mac.

      Hope that helps. Take care.

  4. ndmeador says:

    “For Mini DisplayPort Video Output to an older TV (RCA inputs), you will need the first mentioned VGA Adapter Cable and 1 of the 2 options below:
    Premium Mini DisplayPort to VGA Female Adapter Cable for $16.98.”

    This link actually goes to a Mini-DVI to VGA female adapter, not a mini displayport to VGA…just so you know.

  5. Stuart says:

    Hi Josh,

    “For Mini DisplayPort Video Output to an older TV (RCA inputs), you will need the first mentioned VGA Adapter Cable and 1 of the 2 options below”

    I have a question about connecting my macbookpro 2009 to a older television (not HD). My TV only has a SCART input, but I already have a cable from s-video to SCART. And I have a mini displayport to VGA cable. Today I wanted to buy a mini displayport to s-video, so I could connect it to my first cable and then to my TV. But the guy at the macstore told me it was impossible because the signal from my macbookpro is digital, and my tv needs an analogue signal.
    I read your advice just to use a VGA to s-video cable. Would that do the trick, or will I still have the digital/ analogue problem? Or does option 2 solve the problem?

    Thank you,

    • joshberrus says:

      I updated my blog post to only recommend what I earlier called option 2. I have found that the previously mentioned option 1 did not work for most folks.

      For an older TV, I recommend the VideoSecu PC Laptop Mac Computor to TV Presentation Converter (VGA to Video VGA2TV 1L7). It will give you several output port options for analog TV: Composite video (RCA), S-video and HD15 (VGA). I am currently using this for my older TV, and it works well. You will probably need to tinker with the panel control settings. The unit also requires a USB Power Adapter. This is your best bet for an analog TV. Hope this works out for you. Best regards.

  6. gary says:

    thanks your are very informative
    i was wondering is there an adapter from mini Display (from my mac book)
    to Svideo or composite? (to my tv)
    havnt seen one in an apple store


  7. roxana says:

    I have tried to connect macbook(late 2008 aluminum) to panasonic plasma to get netflix etc. – mini displayport to hdmi to hdmi on tv gets great picture. Tried to use audio y cable to front of tv and all audio choices on the back of the tv – can’t get any sound. What am I doing wrong?

  8. Chris says:

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! This was the ONLY issue I had with my Macbook and now I have none! I searched and searched and asked and asked and NO ONE had a solution. Thank you once again….

  9. J says:

    I have a Macbook 4,1 that I have had for a few years now. I am trying to connect it to my tv to watch movies from my hard drive. I bought the mini dvi adapter, but mine is not a mini. Even though every where i look says it is. It seems to be a normal sized port. Problem is I can not find a regular dvi to vga adapter. They are all either mini or micro dvi. Any suggestions?

  10. andrey says:

    thank you, your post is appreciated.

  11. Steve says:

    I have a first generation Macbook with a displayport but not a mini displayport (darn those changing video ports). I have a displayport to VGA adapter but would prefer to use a HDMI adapter with my TV. The only adapters that I can find online are for mini displayport. Any ideas on where to find a displayport to hdmi adapter?

    • Steve says:

      My mistake. Looks like it is called a mini dvi port on the older Macbooks and not a displayport. Did a search on mini dvi to hdmi and found the right adapter. Only problem now is that audio is not passed through the mini dvi port (or mini displayport for that matter)on macbooks so one still needs a separate cable for audio. So much for simplicity and ease of use.

  12. Ross Spinelli says:

    I have a 2009 Macbook Pro and I was wondering if there was and similar cables, like the mini-dvi to video adapter cable, to connect with my Macbook.

  13. James says:

    I have a macbook with a mini port display which I then use a miniport tp HDMI adapter connected to an HDMI wire which goes to the HDMI plug in the back of my Panasonic Plasma. The picture looks great, but I’m not getting sound through the tv. Shouldn’t I be getting sound since it’s an HDMI plug? Is there something I have to do on the computer or the tv to have the sound come through to the tv?

  14. Ellen says:

    thank you so much for sharing your research and experience! this is so helpful!

  15. Elijah says:

    Thanks so much for all of this! I was having a lot of difficulty figuring this out. I just bought a Pico Projector, and while I can hook it up to my iPad and iPhone, I can’t get it to work with my laptop. I have the first model of the Aluminum Macbook, that has the DisplayPort. (The one without the firewire). If you have any help with getting this to work I’ll love you forever!!

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