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.
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.
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 iOS, Android 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.
Pop 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