How to Connect a USB to a TV?

how to connect usb to tv

The Universal Serial Bus is the best thing to happen to PCs and PC peripheral. It allowed computer parts and appliances makers to use one connection standard to connect everything—from MP3 players to digital cameras as well as printers and flash disks—to the PC or even smart devices.

Do you wish to know how to connect usb to tv? Before learning that, you need to first decide which USB device it’s supposed to connect to because your TV reacts differently to different devices.

How to Connect USB to TV

You can connect your USB device to your HDTV as long as it has USB ports. Or it can charge itself through the port like in the case of certain adapters, converters, or streaming media players (certain Roku devices get power directly from the TV’s USB port instead of an AC adapter).

Many media devices use USB. They include:

  • MP3 players.
  • Digital cameras.
  • Printers and scanners.
  • Smartphones and tablets.
  • PCs (desktops and laptops).
  • Streaming sticks (for power).
  • Game consoles (like the Switch).
  • Multiple peripherals using USB AC adapters.
  • Video capture device or game capture card.
  • HDTVs, smart TVs, projectors, and monitors.
  • DVD and BD players as well as streaming sticks.
  • USB flash drives, flash drives, and external HDD.

Mind you, this is just a partial list. To make a long story short, the USB standard has helped spare many a user from investing in more third-party adapters than usual (your HDMI adapters or AV adapters).

You can use USB connections to download viewable videos from the net to your TV, applications, music, or even read and play your Nintendo Switch onto your laptop without connecting to HDMI (via the game capture card or device).

What to Expect When Connecting to Mobile Devices

You can also duplicate the screen of certain smartphones or tablets with a USB-C port and a USB-C to USB-A cable adapter. Just locate the TV’s USB port or use an HDMI-to-USB adapter to make the smartphone to TV connection then press the Source button your TV remote control.

This way, you can select USB as the source it’s supposed to read instead of HDMI1 or HDMI2 or AV1 or AV2. What it does to your smartphone or mobile device while connected depends on your TV operating system or firmware as well.

Some smart TVs allow you to pick and choose how to “read” your smartphone, from viewing its files like an external HDD to duplicating or mirroring its screen like it’s a portable DVD or media player. Or you can let it charge its battery via USB.

connect usb to tv

How to Connect a Device to TV Using USB (Step-by-Step)

How a device reacts to being connected to your TV by USB depends on what device it is and how your TV’s digital software interprets the connection as. It’s like with a USB-connected smartphone asking you if you want to keep charging it, open its files, or some other option.

To wit, do the following.

  • Plug the USB Device to the USB Slot: If it’s a thumb drive or flash drive, you can connect it directly to the TV’s USB slot and it should read it just fine as a data storage device, thus the TV will open its own file manager to allow you to pick and choose which files to play or copy.
  • Plug the USB Cable: If it’s a digital camera, MP3 player, or external HDD, you’re likely to use a USB-C cable or a USB-C to USB-A cable. The input connector tends to end up USB-A anyway. The USB slot located on the sides or back of your TV aren’t any different from your PC USB.
  • Make Sure It’s a Solid Connection: Make sure your USB cable or device is fully plugged into your TV because a bad connection will keep your TV from being able to read your USB device, particularly USB-C smart devices like mobile phones and tablets.
  • Some Require AC Power: If your USB device has its own battery or requires power to turn on (since it’s not just a data storage device), you might need to plug it to an electrical socket with a separate AC adapter. This isn’t the case with thumb drives and card readers though.
  • Turn on the TV and Choose the USB Input: TVs with multiple input connections for VGA, HDMI, optical, AV, and USB require you to choose the USB input in order to read your device. Toggle to different connected devices or ports until you reach the USB port.
  • Some Smart TVs Auto-Detect: Some smart TVs automatically detect the USB device and run it. If it’s a smartphone, its operating system might even have you choose whether to read it as a media player or file storage device.

What If Your TV Doesn’t Have a USB Port?

You might need to add a USB port by using an adapter to allow USB-to-HDMI connections. Many HDTVs only have HDMI, optical, and/or 3.5mm audio ports available to limit the devices they interface with to media players and cable boxes. USB 3.0 to HDMI Adapter USB 3.0 to HDMI Adapter

They might even be unable to play USB sticks and smartphones in the first place. However, you can try out using an HDMI adapter to see if your TV is “smart” enough or “PC-like” enough to mirror the display of your smartphone or read it like a file storage device.

This connection type won’t allow you to charge your phone so you’ll need to watch out for your battery life while mirroring its screen or playing games on it via using the HDTV as its extra-large monitor.

What You Need to Find Out

In summary, to connect a USB device to your TV—like an external hard disk drive, a USB flash drive, or a smartphone with a USB-C port—your TV should be a smart TV or at least a PC-like TV with digital connections and USB ports. This will allow it to read the devices like a PC or laptop.

It can read the video files on your HDD or USB flash drive or mirror the screen of your smartphone or tablet with the USB connection. Or sometimes it just charges your phone instead depending on its internal software and the integrity of your USB-C cable.


  1. Anthony Cooley, “How to Use USB on TV“,, Retrieved April 28, 2022
  2. Daniel Anglin Seitz, “How to Connect Your Phone to Your TV with USB“,, February 23, 202
Author: James Core

I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right CABLE AND CONVERTER for your needs.

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