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Connecting Your Laptop, Cellphone or Tablet to a TV or Projector in the Classroom

I am regularly updating this article as the tech evolves. If you have questions or suggestions, please email me at, or create a post below.

The first post describes how to connect your cellphone (or your computer or your tablet) to your TV using an inexpensive cable.

Also found below in this topic:

Related articles on other pages:


  1. Today's Sunday School teachers are finding videos, photos, maps, and other teaching media online -- and need a way to show them on a big screen in their classroom.  Our lesson forums are full of such content.

  2. Today's Sunday School teachers typically have smartphones that can either use their own cellular internet connection or tap into the church's WIFI to access online content, such as a free Bible video on YouTube.

  3. Today's teachers are also taking and wanting to show photos and videos of classroom activities.

The easiest way to connect your cellphone (or computer or tablet) to a TV is to use an inexpensive adapter cable.

You just need to know what kind of PLUG you need to go into your TV, and what kind of plug you need on the other end of the cable to go into your cellphone.

Modern TVs have two types of video inputs ("plugs") on their backsides:   HDMI is the most common. But some churches have older TVs that have red, yellow, white connectors ("composite" or "RCA" style plugs).

The end of the cable that goes into your cellphone will be either an iPhone "lightning" style plug or an Android-style plug.

UPDATE: You may need a lightning-to-HDMI cord that works with your model of iPhone or iPhone  The cord I’ve had for three years works with my iPAD but not with my new iPhone 13  Probably need to upgrade my cord (thanks Apple 🤨).

Once you know what kind of plugs you need on the two ends of the cable, go to your favorite online or brick-and-mortar store and purchase the cable. It will run you about $16. Get the 6-foot cable!



What can you do with a cellphone or tablet connected to a TV? Plenty!

  • Show YouTube Videos
  • Take "Bible Story Selfies"
  • Video your classroom skits
  • Show photos or videos of kids explaining key lesson points
  • Show maps and photos of Israel
  • Show illustrations of Bible stories and characters
  • Use your cellphone camera's special effects and features to creatively present and prompt engagement on lesson content
  • Turn your TV into a "live" monitor other kids can watch while a recording is being made. Great for pretending you have a "newsroom" or "tv studio."

There are also some really fun *live* video recording techniques you can do with your kids by connecting a cellphone or tablet to your television. Here's one described in our Writing Team's "Shepherds and Angels" Music-Television Workshop that uses the HDMI to cellphone cable to create a *live* TV show we call "Bethlehem Live."



Read these lesson ideas and lesson plans:

Internet in the Classroom

welcome_wifi [1)Hopefully, you have a Wi-Fi connection in your church and it is strong in your classroom.

If it's not strong, look into installing a "Wi-Fi booster" nearby which amplifies the Wi-Fi signal in your church where you need it.

But if your church doesn't offer you a web connection, you can still use your cellphone's web connectivity to show content on a TV screen.

It's easy to use your smartphone's web access as your Wi-Fi connection in the classroom. Here's how...

If your church does NOT have Wi-Fi, but your phone has a strong signal to a nearby cell tower, you can connect to the Internet with your phone! Just remember that connection/data rates will apply.  Find a volunteer with "unlimited data" to bring their phone into your classroom if you don't have it.

Downloading Internet Content, such as Videos from YouTube

Sometimes, you need to copy and/or download content and bring it into a classroom. The legal principle of "Fair Use" in US and Canadian copyright law gives educators extra latitude in using all copyrighted material for the expressed and limited purposes of non-profit teaching, commentary, and research. This includes when circumstances require you to convert the format of a copyrighted work from one file format to another (such as from a record to an MP3, or from an online video to one you can play on a device that can't get online).

Read our instructions for How-to Download a video from YouTube. Once downloaded, the file can be copied to a USB flash usbdrivememory drive and brought into your classroom for playback on a DVD player, laptop, or tablet, or brought in on the device itself. This copy can only be used for limited teaching purposes and cannot otherwise be shared.


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Original Post

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How to Plug Your iPhone, Android, Tablet, or iPad into Your TV, Laptop, or LCD Projector

monkey with a cell phone
Smartphones and tablets have become the "go-to" video cameras and still cameras for many teachers. Thus, knowing HOW TO show your photos and videos and documents on a large screen, to your entire class, is a "must know!"

Internet-connected cell phones and tablets are also a GREAT WAY to bring Internet content to a large screen in your classroom. Sadly, many Sunday Schools don't have Wi-Fi or wired Internet access, so your cellphone's Internet connection is the way to go (assuming you can get 'bars' in the classroom). Learn more about how to use your cell phone as an Internet source here.

(Note: There are wireless methods and you could upload your videos or photos over Wi-Fi to "the cloud" or send them to your laptop.)

Whether you simply want to show some photos and videos you shot with your cellphone, or want to show a YouTube video or other Internet content, the following simple connection is the answer to your prayers.

So here's what you need...

a graphic showing how to connect devices

Remember that Apple and Android devices use different types of connectors. You can easily shop for connectors at online stores like You can even find "hubs" that have several different types of connector options.

Tip: Have on hand a "kit" of adapters, plugs, HDMI, and extra phone power cords for teachers to use.

How to connect your iPhone/Smartphone to a "Smart" TV Screen

iPhone To easily play your cellphone or tablet videos or show photos on a TV screen, you will need an adapter to connect your device's cable to your TV's HDMI cable.

One end of the adapter plugs into your phone or tablet, the other end of the adapter plugs into your TV's HDMI cable.

They also make these cables with a full length of HDMI cable so you can reach your TV.

Get a cable that ALSO has a USB power plug wired with it so you can POWER your cellphone while showing its content on your TV. You plug the USB plug into a port on a TV or into your phone charger's block.

Search for  “iPhone or Android phone to HDMI cable” at Amazon and you’ll see plenty for sale. They're about $15.


If your church's TV is "isn't so smart" (aka "old") it may not have a modern HDMI port. It may have the old "three colored red-yellow-white RCA-style plugs. So you will need to search for an adapter that connects your phone’s cable to the old-fashioned “RCA”-style plugs.

Test your connections ahead of time! Old TVs can make videos and pics be displayed in odd sizes!

Bluetooth? Wireless?

I have NOT had good luck trying to wirelessly connect my iPhone 7 or 8 to my Sony "smart" TV or my LG. The problem is my Apple iPhone doesn't play nice with some brands of TVs or their software; experienced a similar issue trying to use Chromecast. The problem: not all TVs and their software are fully compatible with wireless devices.

My fail-safe solution: Use an HDMI-to-cellphone cable. Never fails.

Updated 2021. Copyright Inc.


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Copyright Issues Regarding Viewing Videos on Youtube, Uploading and Downloading YouTube Content, etc.

The following are general guidelines based on a reading of Youtube terms of service and copyright laws.

Creating Videos and Uploading Them to YouTube

  • the legalities of using copyrighted songs and videos
  • how to

It's a new day. During the upload process, YouTube can automatically detect if your video contains copyrighted video and music, and will alert you during your upload process as to the owner's rights and permissions.

Usually, the alert simply says the copyright holder licenses their content on YouTube and shares in the "ad" revenue. The copyright holder may request your content to be removed at any time (which they rarely do). Note: It is not removed from your "channel" (your logged-in YT account). YOU can still see all the content you upload, it is just blocked to everyone else.

In MOST cases, copyright holders allow their songs and videos to be covered, copied, mashed up on non-profit "fan" videos being posted on Youtube. They view it as free publicity and receive ad-revenue.    Disney, for example, allows their videos to be mashed by individuals and uses it as an opportunity to show Disney ads.  Fox Movies, on the other hand, has told YT that it doesn't permit, and wants to block all use of their movies.

Youtube PAYS the copyright holder a share of the ad revenue generated when the video is viewed on Youtube. As well, Youtube makes it clear to copyright holders that they may request "take downs" of fan videos (like yours) and has a notification process to facilitate that.

Thus, here in 2019, you can assume that you can legally make and upload to Youtube a "fan video" of your kids performing to copyrighted content. At worst, you will be told by Youtube that it has been removed. In most cases, the artist permit Youtube and fans, provided they have a share of the ad revenue and final control over the existence of the video.

I have created numerous "video mashups" combining songs with video clips from favorite Jesus movies. YouTube has permitted most, but "blocked" some. Why? First of all, it's because their Content ID software picks and chooses. Not every use of copyrighted content is UNfair use!  "Fair Use" for the purposes of commentary, research, teaching and creating "transformative" works is protected in the USA. But sometimes YT's content bots don't understand that your work is protected. So they block it and you have to dispute it. Fun. In general, song owners want their material out there, and some video companies don't.

For the same reason, you can also "embed" Youtube videos in your website, such as we have done at We are legally able to do this because the embedding shows Youtube's ads.

Uploading your video to Youtube is really easy. Just create a Youtube account, and click "upload." Youtube will walk you through the rest. Simple. Done.

Downloading videos from YouTube
for offline viewing and editing
instead of watching them on YouTube

Free Services that Download Videos from YouTube and Vimeo

Most of the "free" online download services once mentioned here have disappeared or turned into scams.

Here's what I now use:

I use VLC -- the free media player app. It's safe, has a long history, and doesn't try to scam you. Its "convert and save" option can download both audio and video from "streaming" services like YouTube.  It takes a while for it to download and convert, but the end result is a standard MP4 video file that you can edit and transfer to any other device.

Learn how here:  You can also find many other webpages talking about how to use VLC to download vids.

VLC, the freeand trusted media player, has a "convert and save" option that allows you to plug in the URL of a YouTube video and then download it as an MP4 (which can take several minutes).  Download the free VLC app from its website.

You can legally download and teach with a copyrighted video posted in a public forum such as YouTube --when you are downloading it for the express purpose of TEACHING in a face-to-face situation, such as a Sunday School classroom.

YouTube and the video companies won't tell you that you can do that because they are in the business of making money. YouTube gets theirs by showing ads and sharing that ad revenue with the publisher of the video. However, even the use of commercial materials for "teaching" use is specifically protected "fair use" according to Sec 101 of the US Federal Copyright Law.  Fair Use also applies to the use of copyrighted printed matter, artwork, movies, and more.

That said, I only teach with downloaded videos when I can't access them online in my classroom. (And in fact, Fair Use includes the conversion of the copyrighted material from one format to another, such as, print to projection, DVD to mp4 video, vinyl record to tape recording or MP3, etc etc.

The key is "for teaching purposes" and not simply to "share something fun" or entertain your kids. In fact, if you were to download and show a music video from YouTube in your worship service, that WOULD be a violation of the copyright because worship services are classified as "public" use, not teaching.

What about Bible movies and Animated Videos on Youtube?

In some cases, the copyright holder has posted them.  In many cases, they simply tolerate others having posted the content . YouTube makes it extremely easy for a copyright holder to have their content removed from Youtube, and movie houses/publishers are generally vigilant about such things. YouTube's Content ID robots can identify copyright video and audio and determine whether or not a fan upload violates the wishes of the publisher.

Thus, if it is posted, you can "probably" assume the copyright holder has an ad-revenue agreement with Youtube. ...which is why the content has not been removed. However, some copyright holders are not aware or not entering into Content ID agreements with YouTube.  To be fair, I often look to see if the publisher is selling the video somewhere else, and if they are, then the copy on YouTube is probably bootlegged.

In general, you should not be viewing full-length copies of Christian videos (or any commercially produced video) on YouTube without knowing whether or not it's bootlegged. The bootlegs often are low resolution and have the credits cut off.

I believe that previewing people's uploaded copies of copyrighted videos on YouTube is a legitimate way to decide if you want to buy the video. Increasingly, the publisher's are monetizing their videos -which others have posted without their permission, ...including an advertisement to buy or download the movie. Keep your eyes peeled. Be fair and honest.

Other video producers are simply letting their stuff out there for free, while still selling it to those who want to buy the DVD.  Pay attention. Do the right thing.


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This post was forked into a new topic here: How to Download Videos from YouTube and view them offline
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

The Legality of Downloading Content from YouTube

A researched opinion

Teaching with YouTube content, either online or OFFline, for non-profit teaching and commentary purposes is Federally protected "fair use," according to Section 107 of the US Copyright Statute. To see this, read 

No copyright statement, Terms of Service, uninformed school website*, or "FBI Warning" can negate this historic and Federally granted right to teachers, researchers, and commentators who want to use copyrighted material for the limited purposes of teaching, commentary, parody, or research.

* I've seen school, ministry, and tech websites post that "you can't," but they're wrong. Read the US Federal Copyright Office's own article!

This right also allows the teacher to control what what their students see in the copyrighted material. For teaching purposes, you can exclude material that doesn't meet your teaching needs. This right includes deleting, skipping, covering up, or turning down the volume on advertisements such as those shown in YouTube videos.

YouTube's terms of service (TOS) which you may or may not have agreed to as a user, states that downloading a video and viewing it "offline" violates their terms of service (not law). Of course, they can make up their own rules, but they can't prosecute you for federally enshrined "fair use."

Teachers also have the right to RE-format copyrighted material in a way that facilitates their use in a teaching situation. It is protected use to convert VHS to DVD for example, or convert a streaming video to an MP4 portable format so that it will work on your teacher's computer. You can also edit the material for teaching purposes, create a montage, add music, and otherwise do anything to enhance the material for the purposes of teaching, parody, research, or commentary. You still need to attribute the material to the copyright holder.

Some Links:

YouTube's own "Fair Use" Foggy "Maybe"

Neil MacQueen is a Presbyterian minister, author, and multi-media producer. He has been researching and writing about copyright law for Christian Education for a number of years.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen


How to (maybe) get content from your Chrome internet browser to appear on your SmartTV via "Chromecast."

In addition to connecting your PC or tablet directly to your SmartTV, you can "cast" or "mirror" your Chrome internet browser screen to your TV over your WIFI connection, if you have Chromecast either built-in to your TV (or have one of their USB keys plugged-in to the TV).

It's really simple and very handy for displaying things --if you can get it to work.

There are incompatibilities between SOME smartTVs and Chromecast which can thwart you from showing internet content from your laptop to your TV.  The same is true of some devices and the installed software that comes with many smartTVs. I've personally experienced these incompatibilities on my newer LG smartTV at home.

On my particular "newer" LG smartTV, I have no problem wirelessly "casting" YouTube videos from my iPhone to my smartTV using the YouTube app. But Chromecast? No.

Keep in mind that not everything you may want to show on your smartTV is something you'll want to show using Chrome.  Photos, for example, or an APP.  To show these, you'll need to be able to "mirror" your device's content to your TV, and "mirroring" (which is what Chromecast is doing too) is fraught with nagging incompatibilities.

Right now, the only fully-compatible solution to connecting your cellphone or computer device to your TV is to USE an HDMI CABLE ADAPTER. See this article for the how-to.

As time marches on, I expects these incompatibilities to disappear, which should make connecting our devices to our screens in the classroom EASY some day.

Now, about Chromecast...

chromecast1"Chromecast" is either a piece of software that is found in your WIFI-enabled TV, or found in a USB plug that you can buy and plug into your TV. Your Chrome Browser on your computer can "see" the signal coming from the Chromecast plug or being broadcast by the TV and use Chromecast to transmit your laptop/device's browser's content to the TV screen wirelessly.

You'll need to purchase a Chromecast USB plug, or make sure your Smart TV has Chromecast installed and updated on it. And you'll need to make sure your internet browser is Chrome. Other internet browser brands have "casting" ability, but many of them don't connect to certain brands of TVs. in face, "casting" and "mirroring" is still dicey, which is why I recommend going with a simple PHONE TO TV HDMI ADAPTER CABLE. It circumvents the compatibility issues just mentioned.

(Yes, you can also mirror non-browser content to your TV. All you need to do is connect your computer's display output using an HDMI cable to your TV or projector's HDMI input. Mirroring non-browser content, such as, software, can also be done wirelessly using your SmartTV's "Connect to PC" menu option. So many options.)

What you need to "Cast" your Chrome browser content to your TV:

1. WIFI Internet, to which both your laptop or tablet and TV are connected. (Chromecast allows them to find each other over your WIFI.)

2. A SmartTV with Chromecast either built into its operating system, or added via one of those Chromecast USB plugs. Check your TV's setup options. You may need to "enable" your Chromecast.

3. Google's Chrome browser running on your laptop or tablet.

Then all you have to do is open your Chrome Browser, RIGHT click a blank area of the browsing screen, and click "CAST" and it will magically appear on your TV screen.

The "cast" window will appear in your browser showing you which devices it can see and display to. In the image below the Cast window is showing my Sony Bravia TV to click on.

It's still easier to use a cellphone 2 HDMI adapter to make your cellphone or tablet content appear on your TV.


How and Why Chromecast It Works:

chromecast1"Chromecast" from Google is software technology that allows internet content to appear on your TV screen.  Like it's competitors (AppleTV and ROKU), Chromecast is essentially a wireless pipeline between the internet and your TV screen. If you're using Chrome as your browser, then Google has made it EXTRA EASY to display that content from your computer to your Chromecast enabled TV with virtually no setup.

In the past, Chromecast was available only as a USB key that you plugged into your TV to connect your TV to the internet. But on many SmartTVs, Chromecast software comes installed. If it's not built-in, you can purchase a Chromecast "USB plugin" in most electronic departments for under $40.

With the click of a browser button, your Chrome browser "CASTS" (or "mirrors") your internet content over your WIFI to your TV that has Chromecast software (or plug) installed.


Apple TV and ROKU work the same way, though not with Chrome browser. There are a number of players in the "Casting/Mirroring/Screen-Sharing" arena. Device protocols and ease-of-connectivity is improving every year. But the basics are all the same.


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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

(Updated in 2021)

Wirelessly "casting" a YouTube video
from your cellphone to your Smart TV
and then using your cellphone's YouTube App
to control the YouTube video on the TV

(instead of using your TV's clumsy remote control)

I've had good luck "casting" YouTube videos from my cellphone's YouTube app to my big screen TV's YouTube app using YouTube's built-in "casting" option.

YouTube has a built-in "cast" feature that allows you to "cast" YouTube videos from your phone to your smart TV.  You just need to have a free YouTube account so that the cellphone YT app and TV's YT app can communicate with each other. See the video below for the "how to" and also the text below that for my instructions. It's easy magic

We use this approach at home when someone wants to show a YouTube video to the family on the big TV. Same thing in Sunday School when I want to show a YouTube video to a class on the big screen.

And frankly, it's a lot easier to navigate your cellphone's touchscreen YouTube app than trying to navigate the YouTube app on your Smart TV with your clumsy television remote.

Your other option is to simple connect your cellphone to your TV with an HDMI adapter as described in the preceding articles. But if your cellphone and TV are using the same internet network connection (such as your home or church WIFI), then "casting" from one YouTube app to another is really SLICK.

How to:

1. Turn on your TV's YouTube app and make sure you've signed in to your YouTube account.

2. Turn on your cellphone's Youtube app, sign in, and pull up the video you want to watch.

3. Click the "CAST" icon on your cellphone's YouTube app.

If this is the first time you've done this, clicking the "cast" button on your cellphone's YT app will start a search for compatible devices (your TV). Once it's found your TV, your cellphone's YT app will "stream" the video to your TV's YT app. It's like magic, but in reality it's YouTube's servers making your cellphone YouTube app content appear on your smart TV's YouTube app.

Click this image to enlarge


As the instructional video below states, your TV and cellphone don't have to be on the same WIFI network to make the linking work (but it's easiest).

Again, the alternative is to connect your cellphone to your TV with an HDMI adapter cable.


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YouTubeVLC-graphicDownloading Videos Using Your YouTube Premium Account


So many good Bible videos past and present are now on YouTube for free that YouTube has essentially become the new DVD player in today's classrooms. The issue, of course, is that many of "today's" classrooms have slow or no internet connection. The ultimate solution to that is to GET your classroom connected (wired or wireless is a cheap add), but there are still times and places where it's really convenient to have a digital copy of the video on your equipment that doesn't require an internet connection.

This article gives you two ways to legally get that digital copy from YouTube:

(1) Via YouTube Premium (requires subscription)

(2) Downloading the video using the VLC Media Player (free)


You may already have a YouTube premium subscription, or a volunteer might. Premium allows you to download any and all video content for playback off-line ON THAT DEVICE where you downloaded the video. Just open your YouTube app and go to your downloads option. where-youtube-downloads The graphic on the right shows you where your "downloads" folder is in the YouTube app when you sign in and go to your account.

Please note: The file that YouTube Premium downloads to your computer is proprietary. It cannot be copied from your computer to a flash drive or be shared with another computer. It cannot be edited. You can only playback the YT Premium downloaded video on the computer/smartphone where you downloaded it. (In the future, perhaps they'll allow cross-device syncing.)


If you want to download videos for teaching purposes and then move that video file to another computer/device/flashdrive, you'll need to use a media player that can download the video from YouTube as an MP4 file.

I recommend the free VLC Media Player for downloading YouTube videos so you can use them for teaching purpose (protected usage!) and edit them if you need to, then COPY them to any device or USB flashdrive so you can move it to your classroom.

Please note: I no longer recommend using websites that purport to download videos from YouTube. Too many have gone defunct or turned into scams to get you to download their unnecessary and potentially dangerous browser apps.

VLC, the free and trusted media player, has a "convert and save" option that allows you to plug in the URL of a YouTube video and then download it as an MP4 (which can take several minutes). Download VLC from its website and use its convert/save option. The only other thing you'll need is the URL of the YouTube video you want to download.  VLC has been around a long time and is a trusted app that is managed by a non-profit.

Is it Legal? Yes!

If you have a YouTube Premium account, then downloading and viewing offline is a FEATURE!

And yes, it is still legal to use a downloading app like VLC Media Player to grab a YouTube video for later viewing and/or editing for personal or educational purposes. Why? Because U.S. Copyright Laws and principles protect the "fair use" of copyrighted material for the purposes of non-profit teaching. They also allow users to change the format of a downloaded file if it is necessary to allow you to view the file for personal use or for teaching within a classroom that cannot otherwise teach with the media in its original format or enjoy it for your personal use. YouTube won't tell you that, but it is settled law.


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