How to use your Cellphone to Show Internet Content on your Laptop or TV

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Not having an internet connection in the classroom is a modern problem for teachers who want to use online media in their Sunday School.

Fortunately, today's laptops, tablets, and SmartTVs can easily connect to the internet via your cell phone's internet connection. To do so, you simply turn on your phone's  "WIFI hotspot."  Your computer, laptop, or SmartTV will see the hotspot and be able to connect to it.


Hopefully your church has its 21st Century act together and is providing your classrooms with a wired or wireless internet connection. But if they don't, or the connection is too weak, or it goes down on Sunday, your cellphone's internet connection can be the solution.

It's not a fast connection, but it should be enough to show that great YouTube video or hear that latest song.


hotspotThe following instructions and screenshot are from an iPhone 6. Newer phones and Androids will work approximately the same way.

1. Go into your cellphone settings and select "Personal Hotspot."

2. Create a password to your Personal Hotspot and turn the hotspot "on." Now other internet capable devices can 'see' your phone on their list of available networks.

3. On your laptop, open your internet/network settings and select the cellphone hotspot. Type in the password and you're up and running!

Once you set up your phone as an internet "hotspot," every other internet capable device within about 20 feet can "see" and connect to your phone's internet connection, if you give them the password.

Optionally, you can connect your cellphone DIRECTLY to your computer by plugging your phonecord into the USB slot on your computer. (This is sometimes called "tethering.") Your computer (or internet capable tablet) will detect your cellphone and see its hotspot to the web. Then you just need to open your internet/network settings on the laptop or table, select the phone and type in the password.

On a laptop, for example, you simply open your network/internet settings and it will search for connections. It will see your cellphone broadcasting a hotspot. Double click on the cellphone listing, type the password you created for the hotspot on your phone, and now your laptop is connected to the internet through your cellphone's internet connection.

In turn, you can then plug your laptop or tablet into an LCD projector, or use an HDMI cable to connect the computer to your TV, to show the online content on the big screen.

Tips and Caveats

Caution:  Only do this REGULARLY if you have an "unlimited" or high GB cellular data plan. dataplanWatching one YouTube video using your cellphone as your WIFI connection probably won't drain your data limit, but doing it a lot will.  If you're unsure of your plan and overage costs, dial 611 on your phone and ask your cell carrier. You can also ask someone to help you who has an unlimited data cell plan as they are more and more common these days.

Be sure you plug your phone into a wall outlet as well, as creating a "hotspot" will otherwise suck your battery dry.

This only works if your cellphone has halfway decent signal strength to the nearest cell tower. If your classroom is in a basement, this could be a problem. Move upstairs or near a window. If you can't get signal strength, and the powers-that-be can't or won't run internet into your Sunday School bunker, ask them if you can run a single long internet cable down from upstairs or down the hallway into your Sunday School bunker. Plug that internet cable into your laptop if feasible, OR plug that internet cable into a WIFI modem that your cellphone can connect to.  Do this enough times and they'll come around to the idea of a permanent connection!

Some Tablets and iPads have internal components that allow them to connect directly to your cellphone's network of cell towers. However, many tablets are sold only to work with standard internet connections, and not the cellphone carrier's network.

The closer your phone is to your computer or smarttv, the stronger the hotspot signal.

Remember to turn off your hotspot when you're done.

FYI:  Using your Cellphone to connect devices to the internet is often called "tethering." 

Here's Apple's How-to article on creating a Hotspot.

Android Article on creating a Hotspot


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