Connecting a flash drive to your TV

Updated: May 27, 2023
6 min read
Connecting a flash drive to your TV
by Jahed Torres
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

Flashcard ranks among the most convenient ways to transfer information from one medium to another. And it is unsurprising that almost every computer or other device user asks themselves how to connect a flash drive to the TV. The answer depends predominantly on the availability of a USB connector in your device: if it is present, you should not have any problems. So let's look at all possible situations.

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Built-in USB connector

Modern TV models always contain USB slots and have a built-in mechanism for reading the necessary information. To watch movies or photos, you must plug in a flash drive and start your chosen movie – it’s easy.

The location of the connector is determined by the brand and model of the TV. For example, Samsung and LG televisions have a USB port on the back of the TV. Some manufacturers place this connector on the side, rarely on the front of the device.

However, sometimes, the TV does not see the contents of a USB flash drive. This often happens because this TV does not support saved file formats. To view them, you will have to convert the storage device's contents to other formats.

In today's TV centers, you can use technical means as a USB storage device, such as:

  • tablets;
  • smartphones;
  • laptops.

Typically, these devices are connected using a USB or HDMI cable. All you need to do is connect the two devices with a cable and use your TV to view photos or videos from your tablet. There are other ways to connect your tablet and laptop to your TV. Separately, we should mention Apple products: connecting an iPhone to a TV has its nuances, just like connecting an iPad.

New Smart TV models have wireless connectivity. With Wi-Fi Direct and other similar technologies, you can easily connect your tablet or smartphone to the TV. In addition, thanks to the same technology, you can view Internet resources from a large screen.

The device does not have a USB connector

Connecting a flash drive to your TV

How do you connect a flash drive to an old TV if it doesn't have a USB port? In this case, you can use third-party devices and adapters to read your information. First of all, they include:

  • media players;
  • DVD players;
  • TV set-top boxes.

You can read the information you need using these devices as an intermediary between the USB drive and your machine.

A set-top box for digital TV

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External digital TV tuners are often equipped with a USB connector. The device connects to the TV via HDMI, but older models may use tunnels.

Follow these steps to enable a file from a flash drive connected via USB to a digital TV set-top box.

  1. Turn on broadcasting in the TV through the connector into which the set-top box is plugged.
  2. Its interface will appear on the screen. Use the external tuner remote to enter the drive's file system and select the desired file.
  3. Next, start playback by highlighting the desired content and pressing the Play button.

DVD player

Another device through which you can connect a flash drive is a DVD player. To watch the content, do the following.

  1. Insert the USB drive into the appropriate port on the HD media player.
  2. Use HDMI or Tulip to connect the set-top box to the TV.
  3. The TV specifies the signal source – the input to which the connection was made.
  4. You need to find the signal source using the player's remote control – a flash drive. Select the necessary files and run them.

Some TVs have a TV/AV button on the remote control that switches from the player to the antenna.

Media player

A media player is a modern and versatile device that can perform various functions. Unlike DVD players, which may have a weak built-in player and will not read all formats, media players generally support all modern codecs. This allows you to download a movie without thinking about how it is encoded and without looking for a way to convert it.

Connecting the media player to your TV

Connecting a media player is no different than connecting a DVD or digital set-top box. It usually uses an HDMI connector. All you have to do is insert a USB flash drive into the media player's USB output, use the remote to open the connected drives, and then select the desired content.

If you have any problems with the work, look in the manual to see which file systems the device can read. Unfortunately, some of them are designed for FAT32, so you will have to format the drive.


To conclude, it is worth noting that users often try to save money and find non-standard cables, such as OTG with an HDMI plug and a USB flash drive connector. Forums often ask whether the TV can read an external drive through such an adapter. Unfortunately, this is not possible because HDMI is designed for digital audio and video signals. Still, it does not recognize the types and encodings of content usually contained on a flash drive. You need special applications and drivers to read them, which must be installed on the TV.

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