Windows Phone Tip: Wirelessly Mirror Your Phone’s Screen to an HDTV

Posted on May 24, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Windows Phones with 0 Comments

With Windows Phone 8.1 or newer and a compatible handset, you can wirelessly mirror—or “cast”—your handset’s display to a Miracast-enabled HDTV or other display. This is a great solution for enjoying phone-based entertainment services, sharing a photo slide show, displaying a presentation, and more, all on the biggest screen in the room.

Note: This Miracast-based screen sharing functionality is also available on Windows 8.1-based devices and will be included—and improved on—in Windows 10 for phones, tablets and PCs. I’ll be writing more about Microsoft’s efforts to embrace and extend Miracast in Windows 10 in the near future.

Here’s what you need to know about wirelessly mirroring your Windows Phone’s screen.

You need a compatible Windows Phone handset. In order to use this feature, you need a compatible Windows Phone handset. If you scan Microsoft’s Lumia devices site and navigate to the specifications for individual handsets, the key phrase you’re looking for is “screen projection.” All of the mid-level phones Microsoft has released in the past year—the Lumia 640, 640 XL, 730/735 and 830—support this feature, as do previous high-end devices like the Lumia 930 and 1520. Low-end Lumias, like the Lumia 430, 435, 532, and 540, do not support this usage. (You can use USB-based screen mirroring on lower-end devices, however.)

You also need a Miracast-compatible external display. Which really means you need an external display with a Miracast-compatible device attached to it. This can be a standalone Miracast dongle, like Microsoft’s excellent Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (about $50 at Amazon.com). Or it can be another device, like a modern Roku set-top box or streaming stick, or an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick.

Be sure to pick the right Miracast device. Standalone Miracast devices—especially Microsoft’s Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, but also the Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones (HD-10)—are generally superior to the Roku or Amazon devices for a variety of reasons that include performance, reliability, and ease of use. With the Fire TV Stick, for example, you actually have to put the device into a special mode to use Miracast, and the performance is literally the worst—by a wide margin—of all Miracast devices, so avoid this dongle at all costs. Don’t believe me? You can see which devices perform best in Rafael Rivera’s comprehensive Wi-Fi Display dongles and associated latencies table. Look for devices with the lowest latency. The Fire TV Stick is a joke.

Find the interface. Windows Phone’s Miracast screen sharing functionality is available via the Project My Screen settings app, which can be found in Settings. If you’re lucky enough to be using a Windows Phone 8.1.2-based handset, look under System in Settings.

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Start screen sharing. To start mirroring your screen, simply tap the device you wish to use. In my case, that’s the device named “Living-Room,” which is the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter we use in the living room. What you see on the phone screen will be mirrored to the external display, and will match the orientation so that portrait displays—like the Start screen and many apps—appear correctly, while landscape displays—media apps like Xbox Video and Netflix—fill the HDTV screen.

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You control the action from the phone. In case it’s not obvious, you control what you’re seeing solely from the phone. The displays are literally mirrored—what you see on the phone is what you see on the HDTV—so as you tap the screen, the results will be seen on the HDTV too: Apps will launch, and so on.

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It’s video and audio. Screen mirroring works well for media apps because both the video and the audio is mirrored to the external display. So you can enjoy TV shows, movies, podcasts, and music too.

Stop screen sharing. To stop sharing your screen, navigate back to the Project My Screen settings app and tap the device name again.

Configure screen sharing. If you’re using screen sharing for a presentation or demonstration, you can optionally show colored touch circles on the HDTV screen that indicate where you tap the phone screen. To configure this and a few other related features, tap the Advanced button in the Project My Screen settings app.

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Configure Project My Screen as a Quick Action. If you’re familiar with the Action Center notifications interface, you may know that you can configure 4 or 5 (depending on device) Quick Action tiles. If you use this screen mirroring functionality enough, you may want to make one of them be Project My Screen. To do so, navigate to Settings and then Notifications + Actions (it’s under Personalization in Windows Phone 8.1.2) and then tap the Quick Action tile you wish to use for this feature. It will then appear in the Action Center for quick access.

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This is a great solution on the go. This feature is a nifty way to get content in Windows Phone apps like Netflix and Xbox Video up on the big screen at home, but it’s also a great solution for travelers. I pack a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter in my gadget bag when I travel, and since almost HDTV in every hotel in the world has an HDMI port now, I can access my content from anywhere using my Windows Phone and this small dongle. You could also use this feature to display photo slideshows from a recent trip or whatever at a family event away from your home.

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