You were recently poking behind your smart TV and noticed several USB ports. You don’t need to open Microsoft Word files on your computer as you do on your laptop. You only use your TV to stream content and play games, so what gives?
You know why your TV has HDMI ports, but why does it have USB ports?
In this article, we’ll explore what those sneaky USB ports are doing on your smart TV and what you can use them for.
Let’s get started!
1. To Access Multimedia Files
Have you ever wanted to show a slideshow of your latest project on your TV? How about showing your friends your old baby videos?
Well, now you can!
You can use your USB flash drive to display media files on your TV, like videos, audio, and pictures.
All you have to do is plug your USB flash drive into your laptop and drag and drop any media files you want onto your USB flash drive’s folder. Make sure to properly eject your USB flash drive from your computer before removing it from the USB port.
Then, plug your USB drive into your TV’s USB ports (commonly found on the back or side).
Your TV may automatically open your USB files, but if it doesn’t, open your TV’s Settings using its remote.
Go to Media, then click on “Photo,” “Music,” or “Video,” depending on what kind of media you want to open.
From here, you’ll be able to select, open, and play your media files on the big screen for all to enjoy!
Does your TV only have one USB port that’s already occupied? Invest in a USB splitter that will allow you to plug multiple USB devices into one port. We suggest the 4-Port USB Hub 3.0, T-Sound USB Splitter , which is available on Amazon.
Watch the video below demonstrating how to open media files with a USB flash drive on your smart TV.
2. To Power Streaming Sticks and Other Devices
Another way you can use the USB port on your TV is to power streaming sticks and other USB-compatible devices.
Streaming sticks, such as Chromecast , Fire TV , and Roku , must often be plugged into a power source. The streaming sticks usually come with a USB cord, either already attached to the stick or separately.
While you can power the streaming stick using a wall outlet via a USB power adapter, you can also plug the USB directly into your TV’s USB port.
This allows you to hide the stick’s power cable behind your TV. You also don’t have to worry about finding a free wall outlet or ensuring the power cable is long enough to reach it.
Do you need to use a video/audio adapter for your TV? If so, then you can plug the converter’s power cable directly into your TV’s USB port!
A TV’s USB ports also come in handy when customizing your home entertainment settings. Placing LED strip lights around your TV is a great way to add some spice to your TV set-up.
Using USB-powered LED strip lights, like this HAMLITE 21Ft Led Lights for TV , allows you to illuminate your TV area without using additional wall outlets.
However, some USB ports may not supply enough electricity to power certain devices. So, it’s a good idea to check the device’s power input requirements (usually found on the packaging or in the manual).
Typically, TV USB ports can output up to 5 volts of 0.5 to 0.9 amperes.
3. To Connect Your Wireless Keyboards, Mice
These wireless keyboards, mice, remotes, and console controllers, connect to your TV via a USB dongle, which looks like a mini-USB drive.
They offer a low input lag and are incredibly easy to connect to your TV.
All you must do is plug the dongle into your TV’s USB port, and presto! You can control your TV wirelessly.
This is great for avid gamers looking for low latency controllers or people who hate typing on their smart TV using the remote’s arrow buttons. Depending on the keyboard you purchase and your TV, you may even be able to adjust your TV’s volume with it.
The mouse also makes it easier to select and click on icons on your TV.
Are you interested in connecting a keyboard and mouse to your TV wirelessly? Watch the video below to learn how!
4. To Update Your TV Software
Is your TV lagging and needs a software update? You’ve tried updating the software on your TV via an internet connection, with no luck.
Have no fear! Your TV’s USB port is here to save the day!
You can download your TV model’s software update on a USB flash drive from your computer, then install it on your TV via its USB port.
You can also install your TV’s firmware update following the same steps. Please note that updating your TV’s firmware is an extremely delicate process that, if done incorrectly, can permanently damage your TV. This could cost you hundreds of dollars in repair costs or force you to purchase a replacement.
When downloading software updates from the internet, it’s imperative to only download software from the company’s official website.
Hackers often disguise malware as popular brands’ software updates, leading to unsuspecting users downloading and installing them on their TV. This malware can completely destroy your TV, making it glitch and randomly turn on or off.
Hackers can also use this malicious code to spy on you through your laptop, TV camera, and microphone. They can use this footage and audio to blackmail and collect information on you, especially if they’ve recorded you in vulnerable or compromising positions.
Whenever installing new software or firmware on your TV, it’s crucial your TV has a steady power connection and does not turn on in the middle of the update process. This could severely damage your TV.
Watch the video below to learn how to install firmware and software on your TV using a USB.
Yesenia Achlim is a technical copywriter and editor with a focus on AV equipment. She aims to break down complicated topics and make technology accessible, no matter your technical expertise. When she’s not teaching you how to replace a projector lamp, you can find her reading and baking.