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I have a strange cord that has a male 3.5mm headphone jack on one side, and some component video and audio outputs on the other. When I plug the headphone side into my computer, and the other side into my TV, I get audio across the cable, but no video. How can I send some video over the headphone jack in OS X? I know you can, because this cable is actually for a Beyblade toy and it somehow transferred video over this cable.

I think I found some more information (from Wikipedia):

A four conductor version (of a 3.5mm headphone jack) is becoming a de facto standard output connector for compact camcorders, providing stereo sound plus a video signal.

So how can I do this on Mac?

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Are trying to send video to the computer or to the tv? – Troggy Aug 11 '09 at 23:19
To the TV from the computer. – Isaac Waller Aug 11 '09 at 23:20
up vote 6 down vote accepted

3.5mm Jack can be a bit strange. If you noticed, some of them have different numbers of black stripes on them. 1 stripe for Mono-Audio, 2 stripes for Stereo-Audio, 3 stripes for Video + Stereo-Audio (rare, and usually usable only for specific devices).

I had one with 3 stripes for my D90, which enables direct playing of Video / Images from the camera directly to TV (the other end is RCA jack).

Although the physical cable supports transmission of Video Signal, but normal headphone jack on your PC/Mac will only supports sending Stereo-Audio as they are designed for.

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Yes, it has 3 stripes. Better buy one of those MiniDisplayPort things. – Isaac Waller Aug 12 '09 at 0:45

The cable has a third terminal on the jack that is for a video signal. I have the same thing and use it with my Zune whenever I'm traveling or at a friend's house. Your audio port on your computer is likely not going to have a video signal coming out so video to a tv will be the s-video or vga route.

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Like several have said: it's a no-go to get video out of that custom cable. It's just not going to happen.

Here is your best bet to get composite video out of your Mac:

Apple DVI to Video Adapter

alt text

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Well you would have to have some device that used the same method to transfer video. That cable is just using one of the possible 3 channels on that cable for video. It still works for audio because it is using the other 2 channels like standard left and right channels of audio.

This is not a set standard that you will commonly find on 99% of computers. That cable will work with the orginal device it came with and maybe a few other devices that used that method of video transfer (Certain models of the iPod photo and video used this method to transfer audio and video through a 3.5)

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The video came from the Beyblade toy and came out on the TV. Do you know of any tools to do this? – Isaac Waller Aug 11 '09 at 23:11

Just b/c the cable fits doesn't mean it works the same as it did on some toy. Headphone jack got no signal for video on normal devices like TV/Computers/Recivers, just 2 channel (stereo) audio.

You can't just plug in a random cable in a random connector and expect it to do what you want.

Video signal usually come from graphics card (or motherboard if built in) on your computer, it might have one RCA connector for video signal (Composite Video). It usually have DVI and/or VGA connector (usually for monitors, but modern TV's might have VGA or HDMI), and sometimes HDMI (there are DVI/HDMI adapters to buy)

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Yes, but audio worked, so I assume that the plug worked and I can transfer video over it too with some software. – Isaac Waller Aug 11 '09 at 23:20
No, the computer does not have the hardware to accept video through that cable. The cable may send the signal, but the computer does not have the physical port to support that. – Troggy Aug 11 '09 at 23:32

To my knowledge, the Mac does not support video out via the headphone jack.

However, video iPods (but not iPhone or iPod-Touch) do support sending composite video out the headphone jack (and doc connector audio port) using the cable described.

Due to having to support headphones and video over the same jack the pin outs are non-standard. Swap the red and yellow connections on the TV to get correct video and stereo sound. (Cables purchased from Apple for this purpose are marked correctly for the iPod.)

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Some Macs - at least a couple models of iBook - have supported video output over the audio port.

alt text

However, Apple does note that all video-over-phono-jack cables are non-standard:

[third-party] cables are not interchangeable with the Apple A/V cable for use with the iBook (FireWire) or iBook (Dual USB). Using a third-party cable with these computers will likely result in a distorted audio signal and no video output to the external monitor.

If you got the cable with a third-party device, and it didn't come in the same box as your Mac, there's probably nothing you can do to make it work.

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