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Is it possible to connect my MBP with a Thunderbolt port to an old CRT TV? I think the TV has composite inputs at least, and maybe S-Video too.

I'd also like to use other computers with the same TV, including one with a Mini DisplayPort and one with a DVI output (I think).

I do video-editing and it's helpful to see my work on a TV.

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When you say "RCA" do you mean composite video, or component video? Look them up. – user9290 Sep 6 '11 at 3:21
@Wheat I'm pretty sure I mean composite video. – daviesgeek Sep 6 '11 at 15:39
You might end up finding that the adapter to connect to an old tv cost almost as much as a cheap, new tv. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Dec 2 '12 at 13:58
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The latest Mac models with either Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort can't directly output composite/S-Video (older Macs with micro-DVI could do this when using the right adapter).

Therefore you need a converter box (powered via USB or separate power supply) that takes a VGA signal and converts it to composite or S-Video, which can be connected to the TV. You need to get one that can supply the correct video signal for your TV (PAL/NTSC/SECAM), although most will support all of those. These converters are available in a wide price range - generally the more expensive, the better the quality (of the signal). enter image description here

You will also need a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter to get a VGA signal from your Mac (this also works with the Thunderbolt MBP). For the computer with DVI output you will hopefully have a graphics card that can output a VGA signal, in which case you merely need a DVI to VGA adapter. If it outputs only DVI, you're in trouble, as you'll need another converter that converts this digital signal to a VGA one.

Alternatively you could get a USB graphics card that outputs TV signals directly, although I can't seem to find one right now. This would be act like an additional monitor, which may be preferable.

In case your TV has SCART inputs (Europe mostly) instead of composite/S-video, you'll also need a SCART adapter, although this may be included with some of the products mentioned above.

The whole setup would look like this:

Mac -> Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter -> Converter box -> [SCART adapter] -> TV
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Thanks so much! I am trying to connect a MBP with a Thunderbolt port. It would be nice to connect two others; one with a mini DisplayPort and one with a DVI connector (I think). Are there any other types of connectors? – daviesgeek Sep 6 '11 at 15:42
The latest (Thunderbolt) MBP doesn't support composite video output, the lowest it can do is VGA (via a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter). From there you will need an active VGA to composite video converter box. The same goes for the 2nd Mini DisplayPort machine. The machine with the DVI connector may or may not support VGA output via an adapter (depends on the graphics card), but if it does you can hook up the VGA output to the same converter box and have all 3 on your TV. Not sure what you want this for, but consider that the resolution will be low and picture quality not very good. – Ingmar Hupp Sep 6 '11 at 16:30
Whoa, that's quite complicated. Could you post some links to examples of the equipment? The reason I am asking is because I do video-editing and it's helpful to see my work on a TV. – daviesgeek Sep 6 '11 at 16:31
Updated answer (and question) to reflect the extra information in your comments. Good luck :) – Ingmar Hupp Sep 6 '11 at 18:18
Thanks for editing my question. I appreciate it! – daviesgeek Sep 6 '11 at 20:29

Instead of the 2-part chain Mini-DisplayPort-to-VGA-adapter --> VGA-to-RCA/composite-or-S-video-converter,

you could use this one-step converter:

Mini DisplayPort/ThunderBolt to RCA-composite/S-video converter (NTSC/PAL) (
Mini DisplayPort/ThunderBolt to RCA-composite/S-video converter (NTSC/PAL) (HDTV Supply)

In addition to the above links, here is a corresponding Google search.

product image of DisplayPort-to-Composite/S-video converter

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