How To Make a Computer Fill the TV Screen When Connecting Through HDMI
With the plug-and-play functionality of modern TVs, you’d think that connecting your PC or laptop would automatically adjust itself to fit the screen. Unfortunately, more often than not, this isn’t the case, so you’ll have to find a suitable workaround.
In this article, we’ll show the most common ways to make computers fill TV screens when connecting through HDMI. We’ll also give some quick FAQs regarding adjusting your TV’s aspect ratio.
Why Does My TV Fail to Fit the Screen?
The usual reason for TVs and computers not fitting the display are differences in aspect ratios. Although the most common aspect ratio for an HDTV is 16:9, not all televisions follow this standard. Common PC and laptop monitors have the same 16:9 ratio, but it’s labeled as 1920 x 1080, or simply 1080p. 1600 x 900 is also a 16:9 ratio but is labeled as 900p.
Differences like these can cause the image not to display correctly on a widescreen TV, especially if the TV has higher resolutions like 4K. For the TV screen to properly display the entire image as you see on your monitor, the display settings on both the computer and TV must match.
How to Ensure That the Computer Fills the TV Screen
Once connected via HDMI, make sure that you’ve chosen the correct input source on your TV. Generally, this can be done using the following steps:
- On your TV remote, choose either “Menu” or “Settings.”
- Find the “Input” menu or press “Input” button on your remote.
- From the selection, choose the HDMI input where you plugged your computer in. If your TV has more than one HDMI port, these will be labeled as HDMI 1, HDMI 2, and so on.
- On the “Settings” menu, search for the “Display settings.”
- Choose the aspect ratio from the selection. The normal aspect ratio should be 16:9.
Alternatively, you can adjust the display on your computer by doing the following:
- On your desktop, right-click to bring up the display menu.
- Click on “Display Settings.”
- Make sure that you’re on the “Display” tab on the left menu.
- Find “Display Resolutions” under “Scale and Layout.”
- Normal 16:9 should be 1920 x 1080. This is 1080p resolution and should have good display quality.
- If your TV isn’t showing the proper resolution, adjust it to 1600 x 900 or 900p.
- Your computer would give a warning asking if you accept the altered settings. Choose “Yes.”
- Choose the Apple menu.
- Select “System Preferences.”
- Click on “Displays.”
- Choose “Scaled.”
- Choose 1920 x 1080. If your TV fails to show proper resolution, choose 1600 x 900.
Other Aspect Ratios
As mentioned, 16:9 or 1920 x 1080 is the standard aspect ratio of today’s modern televisions, but not everyone follows it. Some brands may offer higher resolutions especially if the TV is in 4K. Check the manual of your TV to find the proper resolutions so that you can properly display your computer to fill the TV screen. Here are some of the most common resolutions available:
- nHD TVs display at 16:9 but at 640 x 360p
- qHD TVs display at 16:9 but at 960 x 540p
- HD TVs were the old standard at 16:9 and 1280 x 720p
- HD+ is also 16:9 but displays at 1600 x 900p
- FHD is the current standard at 16:9 and 1920 x 1080p
- DCI 2K are 2K TVs and display at 16:9 and 2048 x 1080p
- QHD is usually found on mobile devices and the Apple Cinema display. It has a 16:9 aspect ratio and is at 2560 x 1440p.
- 4K UHD is the resolution of current 4K TVs and is gaining popularity in the market. It displays 16:9 at 3840 x 2160.
Sometimes, the opposite problem happens when you want to display your computer on the TV. Overscaling is when the image displayed is larger than what your TV can handle. This is a problem when your taskbar is at the bottom of the screen, and it’s hidden because the computer image is overscaled. This can be easily fixed by adjusting the resolution via your video driver. Instructions differ depending on whether you’re using AMD or NVIDIA, but we’ll give both here.
For computers using NVIDIA
The NVIDIA Control panel has a control setting that allows you to adjust the display and scaling. It can be accessed by doing the following:
- On your taskbar, click on “Show hidden icons” on the right side of your PC.
- Right-click on the NVIDIA Settings icon.
- Choose “NVIDIA Control panel.” Alternatively, if the icon isn’t on your taskbar, you can type “NVIDIA Control panel” on your search bar.
- On the left menu, choose “Display.”
- Click on “Adjust Desktop Size and Position.”
- Under “Apply the following Settings,” click on the “Size” tab.
- Make sure that the “Enable desktop resizing” toggle has been checked.
- Click on “Resize.”
- Sliders should appear allowing you to adjust the width and height of your current display. If your computer is connected via HDMI, you can adjust these directly to see how the display properly fits on your TV.
- Click on “OK.”
- A window will pop up asking if you want to confirm the current display settings. Choose “Yes.”
- Your PC and TV should now be properly scaled.
For computers using AMD
AMD has a similar scaling option. You can adjust the aspect ratio by following these steps:
- Click on your hidden icons arrow on the right of your taskbar.
- Choose “Radeon Settings.” Alternatively, you can type “AMD Settings” into the search bar.
- On the menu, click on the “Display” tab at the top of the window.
- Look for the “HDMI Scaling” slider. This should be under the “Display” tab of where you connected your computer via HDMI.
- Slide the bar to the right to adjust the scaling. You should see the adjustments happening on your TV if it’s been properly connected.
- Once done, simply exit the Radeon Settings menu.
What to Keep in Mind When Using a TV as a Monitor
Now that you’ve properly connected your computer to your TV and it’s displaying images properly, there are a few things to keep in mind. There are good reasons why most people don’t use TVs as computer monitors, and it usually relates to performance.
If these points don’t bother you, then congratulations, you have a passable computer monitor. If the reason you’re using your TV as a monitor is for gameplay, however, you might want to take note of the following:
Input Lag: Computer monitors are designed to ensure that input lag is as low as possible. This refers to the time between you moving the mouse or using the controller and the action being displayed on the screen. HDTVs aren’t designed for this, as they prioritize video processing.
Most input lag can be measured in milliseconds, and although 10 to 20 milliseconds might seem too fast to matter, when you’re playing competitively, that lag may affect your game.
Response Time: Not to be confused with input lag, response time refers to the speed at which a display switches colors when the scene changes. As TVs prioritize video processing, they have slower response times to show richer colors and sharper contrasts. Computer monitors tend to reduce image processing in favor of quick response times, especially during gaming.
Some TVs will have a gaming mode that sets image processing lower to keep up with high-speed gaming displays and prevent ghosting. If your TV doesn’t have this feature, you may start seeing double images when playing fast-paced games.
Refresh Rate: Most TVs will have a 60Hz refresh rate, which is fine for watching movies, as most video is shot at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second. A lot of modern games have refresh rates of 120Hz and above. If the game and display refresh rate isn’t in sync, you might experience stuttering in-game.
A Makeshift Monitor
In a pinch, the TV can be used as a makeshift monitor. If you don’t know how to make the computer fit the TV screen when connecting through HDMI however, the experience can be annoying. Fortunately, there are easy solutions to that problem depending on the current resolution of your computer and TV.
Do you know of other ways to fit the computer to the TV screen via HDMI? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.