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?
I've been exploring the options for sharing photos on your TV for more than 10 years, and it has kept getting easier as more manufacturers and devices now include these features natively. In fact, there's a very good chance you already have everything you need to start viewing your pictures and videos on your TV. Here are the options that should work for most people.
1. Use your phone to cast to your TV
The easiest way to cast your photos to your TV is to use the casting functionality that's built into your phone. For iPhone owners, that's the most recent version of AirPlay, AirPlay 2. Most TV manufacturers started building AirPlay 2 into their products in 2018 or 2019. You can check for your model on Apple's list of AirPlay 2-enabled TVs and streaming devices.
To use AirPlay:
- Make sure your iPhone and TV are connected to the same WiFi network.
- Open the Control Center. (For iPhone X or later, swipe down from the upper-right corner. For iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen.)
- Select Screen Mirroring (the two rectangles).
- Select your TV from the AirPlay devices available on your WiFi network.
For Android owners, the built-in casting technology depends on the manufacturer. Below, you'll find instructions on how to cast to the major manufacturers TVs with Android or iOS (for non-Airplay models).
How to cast photos to a Samsung TV
If you have an iPhone and a 2018 or newer model Samsung TV, check to see if your TV supports AirPlay 2. Samsung also supports casting through its SmartThings app for many 2018 and newer Samsung TVs. Once you add your TV to the SmartThings app under Devices > Add devices, you can select "Smart View" to mirror your phone. If your Samsung TV doesn't support AirPlay 2 or SmartThings, I recommend using an HDMI cable or streaming device, as outlined below.
If you have a Samsung phone, you can use "Screen Mirroring" to cast photos to your Samsung TV. First, you'll need to turn on screen mirroring. For older TV models, you'll press the "Source" button on your remote and then select "Screen Mirroring" as the source. For newer TV model, you'll press "Menu" on the remote then Network > Screen Mirroring. For the most recent models, you'll go to "Settings," select General > External Device Manager > Device Connection Manager > Device List. Once you have screen mirroring turned on, you then activate screen mirroring on your Samsung phone. Pull down from the top of the screen and select "Smart View" or "Quick Connect," depending on your phone model. Select your TV from the available devices and, if prompted, enter the verification code.
If you have a non-Samsung Android phone and a 2018 or newer model Samsung TV, download the SmartThings app. Once you add your TV to the SmartThings app under Devices > Add devices, you can select "Smart View" to mirror your phone.
[Editor's note: Samsung's website refers to the Samsung Smart View app as the way to view photos on your TV. However, Samsung recently removed the Smart View app from the Apple App Store and Google Play, so follow my instructions above.]
How to cast photos to a TCL TV
Most TCL TVs have Roku streaming technology built-in (Note: the TCL 6-Series was a Techlicious Top Pick for TVs under $1,000). This means you can use the Roku app for your iPhone or Android phone to cast photos to your TV. In the Roku app, select Devices > Media.
If you have an iPhone, TCL Roku TVs also support AirPlay.
Last year, TCL started offering a few TV with Android TV built-in. For Android phones, you can open the Google Home app, select your TCL Android TV and then select "Cast my screen." For iPhones, TCL Android TV models support AirPlay.
How to cast photos to an LG TV
If you have an iPhone and a 2019 or new model LG TV, check to see if your TV supports AirPlay 2. If your LG TV doesn't support AirPlay 2, I recommend using an HDMI cable or streaming device, as outlined below.
If you have an Android phone, your phone's built-in screen sharing should enable you to cast your photos to your LG TV. For LG phones go to Settings > Share and Connect > Screen Sharing or Mirror Screen. For other Android phones, go into your phone's Settings menu and find the screen sharing feature, which may be called "cast," "Smart View," or "mirroring. Select your LG TV from the list of available devices and confirm that you want to cast on your TV with your TV remote.
[Editor's Note: LG recommends using the LG Screen Share app to view your photos on your TV. However the app has been removed from Apple App Store and Google Play, so follow my instructions above.]
How to cast photos to a Vizio TV
If you have a 2018 or newer Vizio TV, it likely will have either Roku or SmartCast OS, which incorporates Chromecast, built-in. If your TV has Roku, you can use the Roku app for your iPhone or Android phone to cast photos to your TV. In the Roku app, select Devices > Media. If your TV has SmartCast OS, you can cast your photos with your phone from any app that supports casting, including the Google Photos app for iPhones and Android phones. Just select the cast button in the upper right corner (a rectangle with three curved lines) to begin casting. Select your Vizio TV from the list of available devices and confirm that you want to cast on your TV with your TV remote.
For iPhone owners with a 2018 or new Vizio TV, check to see if your TV supports AirPlay 2.
How to cast photos to a Sony TV
If you have a 2015 or newer Sony TV, it will like have Android TV or Google TV built-in. That means you can cast your photos from any app on your phone that supports casting, including the Google Photos app for Android phones and iPhones. Select a photo in the Google Photos app and the tap the cast button in the upper right corner (a rectangle with three curved lines) to begin casting. Select your Chromecast device from among the available devices and your photo will appear on your TV. Your TV will mirror your phone as you navigate the app.
For iPhone owners with a 2018 or new Sony TV, check to see if your TV supports AirPlay 2.
2. Use your phone to connect to your streaming media player
How to cast photos to Roku player
For iPhones and Android phones, you can use the Roku app to cast photos to the Roku device attached to your TV. In the Roku app, select Devices > Media.
How to cast photos to Chromecast
If you have a Chromecast device, you can cast your photos from the Google Photos app for Android phones and iPhones, as well as other apps that support casting. Select a photo and the tap the cast button in the upper right corner (a rectangle with three curved lines) to begin casting. Select your Chromecast device from among the available devices and your photo will appear on your TV. Your TV will mirror your phone as you navigate the app.
How to cast photos to Fire TV
To cast to your Fire TV device, download the AirScreen - AirPlay & Cast & Miracast & DLNA app. This will add AirPlay for use with iPhones and casting support for Android phones. To cast your photos, open the AirScreen app on your Fire TV device and then select the type of casting – AirPlay for iPhone, Cast for Google Pixel phone etc. Then on your phone, select AirPlay for iPhones or the option to cast in Settings on Android phones, and look for AirScreen among the available devices. Once connected, your TV will mirror your phone.
How to cast photos to Apple TV
Apple TV has AirPlay TV built-in. For Android phones, you'll need to install a casting app. I like AllCast, which receives four stars in Google Play and has been downloaded more than 10 million times. Once you have the app installed, you select your Apple TV from the available devices to start casting.
3. Connect your phone to your TV with an HDMI cable
If you have an iPhone 5 or newer model, you can purchase a Lightning to HDMI adapter to plug your iPhone into your TV. Once you connect your iPhone, you'll be able to see whatever is on your iPhone's screen on your TV. You can purchase the Lightning to HDMI adapter for $29 on Amazon.
If you purchased an Android phone within the last few years, your phone will likely have a USB-C port. In that case, seeing your photos may be a simple matter of connecting your phone to your TV with a USB-C to HDMI cable. Check with your phone manufacturer to see if your smartphone supports HDMI output. I recommend the 6.6-foot Colorfulday USB-C to HDMI cable, which sells for $14 on Amazon and receives 4 stars from customers.
4. Use your phone or camera's memory card.
Many older TVs have an SD card reader. Pop the memory card out of your camera or Android phone and put it into the TV’s SD card reader. For phones, you’ll need a microSD-to-SD card adapter, like the SanDisk MicroSD MicroSDHC to SD SDHC Adapter that is available on Amazon for under $5. 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. 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, 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]
Updated on 8/4/2021