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5 Easy Ways to View Photos on Your TV

by on March 21, 2019
in Cameras and Photography, Photo / Video Sharing, Music and Video, TVs & Video Players, Mobile Apps, Tips & How-Tos :: 39 comments

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Whether you’re sharing photos from a recent trip or traveling down memory lane, it’s hard to do your pictures justice on your smartphone or camera’s small screen. So why not take advantage of the big screen you already have—your TV?

It’s easy and you probably already have everything you need. Check out the following options to start viewing your pictures and videos on your TV.

1. Use your smart TV or streaming media player's Internet apps.

Play on Roku photos

If you have a smart TV, you can use a photo viewing app to access with your smartphone or a streaming media player. Here are your options for the major brands: 

For LG TVs, you can use the built-in LG webOS SmartShare app (see directions here). LG's 2019 lineup of Nanocell TVs will support Apple AirPlay 2, which will make it simple for iPhone and iPad owners to send photos and videos directly to the new TVs. 

Samsung 2019 SmartTV models will support Apple AirPlay 2 for showing photos and videos and a firmware update will be available for 2018 model SmartTvs this spring.  

Sony TVs run Android TV and have Chromecast built-in. That means that once you pair your phone with your TV, you can send photos to your TV from any app that supports casting, which include Google Photos and Facebook. 

For TCL TVs, you'll have Roku built-in, which has photo apps for Flickr, Shutterfly, Google Photos and SmugMug, among other in its photo apps channel.

For Vizio TVs, you'll either have access to Vizio Internet Apps, which includes Flickr and Plex, or you'll have Roku built-in, which has photo apps for Flickr, Shutterfly, Google Photos and SmugMug, among other in its photo apps channel.

If your TV doesn't have built-in access to the apps you want, you can always add a streaming media player. Choose from Roku Express ($29.99, check price on Amazon), Google Chromecast ($35, check price on Amazon), Apple TV ($149.99, check price on Amazon) and Amazon Fire TV Stick ($39.99).

Once you're in the app section, select a photo sharing service app, like Flickr, Shutterfly, Google Photos or SmugMug. Roku has a whole channel devoted to photo apps. After logging in, you can choose to view your photos—individually or in a slideshow—or photos that others are sharing across the web.

For videos you can use YouTube. Don't want strangers viewing your videos? You can always choose to make them private when you upload them.

2. Connect your smartphone via HDMI.

BlueRigger

If you purchased a high-end Android phone within the last few years, your phone may have a micro HDMI out port or a USB-C port. In that case, seeing your photos is a simple matter of connecting your phone to your TV with a micro-HDMI-to-HDMI cable or USB-C to HDMI cable. For a  basic micro-HDMI-to-HDMI cable cable, we like the one from BlueRigger ($8.99, check price on Amazon). For phones with USB-C ports, we like the one from Choetech ($16.99, check price on Amazon). Check with your phone manufacturer to see if your smartphone supports micro HDMI.

3. Connect your smartphone or tablet wirelessly.

If you purchased a TV or video game console (i.e. Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3 or Playstation 4) and a smartphone within the last few years, they most likely have a wireless technology called DLNA (you can check for your model on dlna.org).

If your smartphone and TV are made by the same manufacturer, there’s likely a setting called screen mirroring (or something similar) on both devices. For LG TVs, you can also download the LG Screen Share app (free for iOS and Android). And for Samsung TVs, you can download the Samsung SmartView app (free for iOSAndroid and Windows PCs). If you have a  recent model Samsung phone, you can use Screen Mirroring to view your photos (see Samsung's instructions for Screen Mirroring). This will enable you to see whatever is on your smartphone on your TV. 

4. Use your phone or camera’s memory card.

SanDisk MicroSD adapterPop the memory card out of your camera or Android phone and put it into the TV’s SD card reader. Many older flat panel TVs have an SD card reader. If you're not sure whether yours does, your owner's manual will tell you. For phones, you’ll need a microSD-to-SD card adapter, like the one from SanDisk ($4.99 check price on Amazon). For most TVs, inserting an SD card will launch the photo viewer.

5. Use a USB cable or flash drive.

Take the USB cable that came with your camera and use it to connect the camera to your TV's USB port. Again, most flat panel TVs made over the last few years have a USB port. If your photos and videos are stored on your computer, you can copy them onto a USB flash drive and then insert the drive into your TV's USB port. On most TVs, inserting the USB cable or flash drive will automatically launch the TV’s photo viewing app. From there, you can choose to view photos, videos or a combination of both. Manually scroll through or set your photos to music for a slideshow.

As you can see, it's there's no reason to make everyone crowd around a tiny display when it's so easy to share pictures on your big-screen TV.

[Image credits: couple viewing photos from tablet on TV via BigStockPhoto, Roku, BlueRigger, SanDisk]

Updated on 3/21/2019



Discussion loading

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Great Post but ...........

From Tony Scott on October 09, 2014 :: 2:06 am

This is wonderful & so easy to follow. However, I wish I could find a way to stream my media to my Smart TV from my Samsung Galaxy S5 micro SD card. So far all my attempts at this have failed & I can only access media on the phone’s internal memory.

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Streaming Photos/Videos from Desktop/Laptop

From Mike Hixson on December 29, 2014 :: 3:59 pm

With my nice, but dumb, TV & ROKU 3 connected to receiver’s HDMI port, there’s a great program available through ROKU called ‘MY MEDIA’, which will stream your media, including your music playlists, photos and videos directly to the TV with hi-def sound and images.  Works great.

BTW, I was told that the Samsung Galaxy S5 wouldn’t stream directly to an HDMI port, without an optional special box and a power source for it, as there is no micro HDMI jack on the S5, unlike my previous Razr Maxx HD, which worked great.  Am I mistaken?

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That's not true

From Josh Kirschner on December 30, 2014 :: 10:47 am

The Galaxy S5 uses MHL 2.1, which is basically HDMI plus power charging. But the power charging bit isn’t required, so you can use a standard microUSB to HDMI adapter or an MHL to HDMI adapter. I just double checked it with one of our Galaxy S5 hooked up to a Samsung TV and it worked fine.

Here is one cable option (plenty for under $10): micro-USB MHL to HDMI adapter. Note that you will need an 11-pin adapter, so verify that before you buy another model.

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Thanks, Josh!

From Mike Hixson on December 30, 2014 :: 11:07 am

Really appreciate the advice!  Nothing in the S5 manual, nor could anyone in 1 ATT or 2 Verizon stores help on this question.  And thanks for the cable link, too!

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Get a usb powered sd

From Brandon McConnell on December 15, 2015 :: 9:27 pm

Get a usb powered sd card reader plug into tv’s usb port then plug phones sd card into reader and there you go! You’ll be able to watch or see anything on the SD card I got a card reader that worked on my tv from Walmart for 8 dollars

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Floating Image from Android + Chromecast = Apple Floating Picture on your TV!!

From Al Winston on June 08, 2017 :: 10:33 am

For years I bought the 1st gen Apple TV for one reason: the floating picture screensaver.  It’s the only way to display multiple images in a kinetic and eye-catching way, and if you have thousands of images, the only way to see most of them (vs one picture at a time).  It was limited by the number of images it could ‘mine’ for viewing (a few hundred) but at least was high resolution.  However, NOW there is a much better option: Google chromecast plus a FREE android app called Floating Image, by a fellow named Mark somewhere in Denmark.  It mines thousands of images (I haven’t seen a limit yet) in hi res in a floating image way and looks fantastic on a large screen TV.  If it’s viewed on a large tablet, like the Galaxy View, the thumbnail images floating across can be tapped and they’ll zoom to full screen.  A second tap and it goes back to the floating image.  Thus far, this is the best way I’ve seen to display a library of thousands of digital images.

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how to orient pictures

From Steve Weflen on July 27, 2017 :: 1:53 pm

When I try to display pictures on my tv using a flash drive in the USB port, the tv re-orients the pictures such that I have to individually rotate them every time I display them.  Does anyone know of a solution to this?

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The classic "Which way is my photo oriented?" problem

From Josh Kirschner on July 27, 2017 :: 4:19 pm

The issue is that there are two things that determine how a picture is oriented - 1)the actual data in the image and 2) the Exif metadata. So, for example, when you rotate your smartphone the picture is now stored sideways (orientation of sensor/lens stays the same), but the smartphone is smart enough to detect how you were holding your phone and applies a tag in the Exif data with the orientation. Some programs will look at the Exif data and orient the photo correctly for viewing, some will not.

Whether the Panasonic Viera is correctly reading the Exif data is hard to say - it may be ignoring the data or, perhaps, the device you took the photo with never tagged the photo with Exif data in the first place. You can verify this yourself by downloading a program that lets you view/edit image Exif data. If the Exif data is correct, there’s not much you can do to fix the Viera (assuming it’s using the latest firmware) - you will have to manually reorient and resave your photos for viewing on the TV. And when you do that, you will want to change the Exif data, too, or else programs that do read that data will reorient your photo, but now it will be sideways…

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Use the app Katan to view photos, compare side-by-side, etc.

From VeprIT on August 11, 2017 :: 10:13 am

If you want not only to view iPhone photos on a TV, but also compare photos side-by-side and even adjust them, apply effects, etc., take a look at the app Katan: http://veprit.com/katan

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I decided to use ArkMC.

From markamark on August 21, 2017 :: 4:23 am

I decided to use ArkMC. It uses dlna. I like it, it’s simple to use and in installation, and has lots of good features, streams content to several devices on your home network without any difficulties.  4/5

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Copied photos to memory stick

From Andy on October 30, 2017 :: 1:20 pm

Copied photos to memory stick and plugged into LG TV USB port.  Photos have a red X and will not come up.  Can you advise how to get rid of the red X?

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Displaying thousands of photos from a USB stick to a TV

From Mike on December 10, 2017 :: 11:45 pm

I have over 3000 photos on a USB stick but when I plug into my normal TV it will only read a few hundred, how can I slideshow the whole lot

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Having same problem

From Ronda on April 23, 2018 :: 10:35 am

I wish I knew the answer to your question I’m having the same problem. Have googled everything and no answer

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What model TV?

From Josh Kirschner on April 23, 2018 :: 10:52 am

Hi Ronda,

It’s possible the manufacturer may have some sort of limit built how many photos you can use for a slideshow on the TV. What model do you have? Maybe I can find you an answer.

Josh

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Thanks for the big variety

From lilbob on February 28, 2018 :: 11:09 am

Thanks for the big variety of different ways how to transfer pics from iPhone to TV. I use ArkMC to stream wirelessly all my videos, pics, music from iPhone to different devices(mac, TV, Xbox, etc).

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usb

From marie smith on November 08, 2018 :: 4:22 pm

When I have added extra photos to my usb and tried to play on my tv - only the original ones appear not the added photos which have been transposed from another usb - does anyone have the answer!!

thanking you

dolour

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Picture size

From Colin on December 18, 2018 :: 5:57 am

When having a slideshow why are some pictures full screen and others are small ? When looking at them one by one they all appear full screen .
December2018.

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iphone photos on tv screen

From Errol Campbell on February 03, 2019 :: 10:19 pm

When i watch my iphone photos via my tv screen,i get a mixture of 1,2,or 3 photos on the screen at the same time when i am on the slideshow feature. How can i get 1 complete photo at a time ???

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It depends on what app

From Suzanne Kantra on March 21, 2019 :: 1:30 pm

It depends on what app or platform you’re using to view your photos. What’s your setup?

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iphone

From Josshad on October 31, 2019 :: 3:57 am

Take a look on https://apps.apple.com/us/app/photv-local/id1484497923 app. This works on my old LG, where there was the same problem when I tried to cast via DLNA

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Stream Photos to 2 TVs at the same time

From Robert Lee on March 21, 2019 :: 6:17 pm

What do you think is the best solution to stream pictures from 1 source to 2 TVs?  I want them to show the same picture at the same time.  What ecosystem/apps are the easiest/best?

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Sony Bravia

From Kevin M on April 22, 2019 :: 3:44 pm

Josh
I’m having difficulty wi/trying to get the pictures I have on my computer over to my Sony Tv.
Sony PlayMemories (after hrs of pulling pix over) to it, is now defunct.

Do you have a stupid simple way of my transfering
from ‘puter to TV?

TYIA,
KPM

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App or streaming device

From Josh Kirschner on April 23, 2019 :: 6:06 pm

Depending which model Sony TV you have, there may be an alternate app for photo watching. For example, newer Sony TVs run Android TV, so you could store your photos in Google Photo and cast them from your Android phone to your TV with Chromecast (https://support.google.com/photos/answer/6295590?co=GENIE.Platform=Android). If you don’t like that option, you can get a Roku or other streaming device and stream through on of those apps (see above). If you have an old Sony smart TV where apps are no longer being supported, this may not be a bad option.

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Sony Bravia

From Kevin M on April 25, 2019 :: 3:26 pm

Hey Josh
Sent this to info@ (but wasn’t sure if it goes thru that way)...nonetheless here is what I asked:
1) I opened gmail on IE (on TV)...did fine, but when I tried to find “photo’s” I just couldn’t!!
Perhaps if I do it html, that might help
2) then I figured, well, I’ll d/l chrome, which is
how I use my gmail on computer….well it said my tv wasn’t set with “mme” or something or other? So I couldn’t d/l that…

This is like a 2014 Sony Bravia, its like a dumb-smart TV it seems…i.e. I tried d/l’ing the 4K Masters app….they (Sony) told me on phone I couldn’t….got me shaking my head!

Anyway, hate to be one but once again, help!!
thx

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Have you tried USB?

From Josh Kirschner on April 30, 2019 :: 10:53 am

It’s hard to troubleshoot this without actually being able to see the TV, especially since the 2014 models did not use Android TV. However, according to the relatively useless Sony TV manual, you should be able to play photos off USB from your TV. Have you tried copying your photos to a USB and then sticking it into the USB jack on your Sony?

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sony bravia

From Kevin M on May 01, 2019 :: 7:31 am

Hey Josh
Again, thanks for the help. Well yes, I *did* try that (pix to usb flash drive) then plugged it in…couldn’t find it on the internet explorer)..just frustrating, this TV! I think I’m caught in between *real* smart tv’s and this sony bravia one :(

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Wouldn't be through Internet Explorer

From Josh Kirschner on May 01, 2019 :: 7:35 am

If your photos are on a USB, there will either be a photo app on the TV you can use to access the photos or try switching your TV input settings to USB and see if it launches the app automatically,or at least allows you to browse through the photos with your remote.

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Sony Bravia

From Kevin M on May 01, 2019 :: 7:42 am

just tried it….shows hdmi 1, 2, 3, 4…thats it :(

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Let's try one more thing

From Josh Kirschner on May 01, 2019 :: 2:31 pm

One more set of instructions from Sony:

1) Press the HOME button on the TV remote to reveal the menu.
2) Depending on the TV model you can go to either one of the following:
- Select Media > Photos, Music or Videos > Select name of connected device
- Select Connected Devices > USB > Photos, Music or Videos
- Select Media Server > USB

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Limit to number of photos to view on LG TV's slide show

From Rudy on May 19, 2019 :: 2:54 am

Whenever I view photos from a USB memory stick on my LG TV as a slide show, there’s a point, not always the same point, where the viewer starts from the beginning and does not want to show all photos loaded. What could be the problem?
The model of the TV is LG 42LF650T.

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Samsung "Unsupported Feature" error

From Josh R. on May 31, 2019 :: 12:17 pm

I have a new 2019 Samsung smart TV.  Using powerpoint, I exported jpeg photos into a MP4 file.  The TV successfully plays the MP4 file from a USB that I plug into the TV.  I set the slideshow to loop. Here’s the problem.  Every time the loop starts over, a message appears stating

Unsupported Feature
This audio data is not supported
OK   Stop

This message covers the screen.  I can either hit ok, or it will disappear on it’s own in about 10-15 seconds.  How can I prevent this message from displaying. 

Thanks,

Josh

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You need to add an audio track

From Josh Kirschner on May 31, 2019 :: 1:50 pm

The issue is that when you save the video from PPT, there is no audio track. And Samsung views no audio as “unsupported” audio.

So the solution is to use a video editing tool to add an audio track to your MP4 file. It doesn’t matter what the audio is as long as you use one of the following audio codecs supported by Samsung TVs: AC-3, AC-4, LPCM, ADPCM (IMA, MS), AAC, HE-AAC, WMA, DD+, MPEG (MP3), MPEG-H G.711 (A-Law, µ-Law), Opus.

Let me know if that fixes your issue.

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I need to add an audio track

From Josh R. on May 31, 2019 :: 2:22 pm

Josh K.,
Thanks for the advice.  I will try it.  I have never used any video editing tools.  Can you recommend any that are free and easy to use.

So, I assume that I create the MP4 file with PPT as before, and I add the audio after the MP4 file is created?  Is this correct.

Thanks.

Josh R.

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A couple suggestions

From Josh Kirschner on May 31, 2019 :: 2:57 pm

If you’re on Mac, you could just use iMovie. Certainly not the best out there, but free and realtively easy to use.

If you’re on Windows, Avidemux is a free, simple program that will do what you want. Else, take a look at Shotcut, which is a little more advanced.

And yes, just take your existing MP4, import it into the editing program and the add an audio track. The programs may even let you add a default blank audio track, but haven’t tried it so not sure.

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Updated instructions

From Josh Kirschner on May 31, 2019 :: 3:12 pm

I checked and the process is even easier if you use a program like Shotcut (maybe same with the others). Just import your video and then export it File > Export using the default settings. It will add AAC encoding automatically - no need to mess around with a separate audio file.

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Thanks

From Josh R. on May 31, 2019 :: 3:49 pm

Thanks, Josh K.

I will try this in the next few days and let you know how it worked.

Josh R.

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MI BOX

From George Han on September 19, 2019 :: 7:32 pm

Thanks for nice tutorial Josh!
I want to share my little experience here, mine is a older HDTV without any “smart” feature, so I bought a MI BOX which is an android tv box system. amazingly when I connect my thumb drive with my photos into it, nothing happens, so I dig into google play store and try to find a solutions, I tried a few and find this useful “photo viewer for android tv”, it does simple usb photo navigation, full screen viewing, photo slides, can be controlled by d-pad, that’s almost all I wanted. I want to share this with other people who also need this. thank you.

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Change Display Speed

From Cari Yoder on October 03, 2019 :: 8:50 am

Hey Josh.Is there any way to change the speed of the USB JPG files when they are displayed on the tv? I got them all to play but they are a little slow

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Usually in the TV slideshow settings

From Josh Kirschner on October 03, 2019 :: 3:48 pm

Many (most/all) manufactures will let you change the speed of your slideshow through the menu options on your TV. The exact menu commands will vary by TV manufacturer. If you can’t figure it out from the menu, Google “[MANUFACTURER] TV slideshow speed” and you’ll probably find the solution.

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