Why do I have to restart my router to get AirPlay options to appear? I get error messages referring to 'The AirPlay Device Speaker' and instructing me to 'Use This Computer Instead'. What's going on?

Welcome to our guide to AirPlay troubleshooting guide. We'll talk you through the most common problems connecting to speakers or an Apple TV using AirPlay, and help you to quickly fix them. We'll look at a range of AirPlay connection problems in Mac OS X, macOS and iOS 10 review.

Read next: How to use AirDrop & AirPlay in iOS 10 | Turn Apple TV into a video games console

AirPlay troubleshooting: How to fix an AirPlay connection

Struggling to establish or maintain a connection between your iOS device and your Apple TV or AirPlay speakers? Follow these steps to fix your AirPlay connection:

  1. First verify that your iOS device's software is up to date. Go to Settings > General > Software Update. Click Download and Install if you are not running the latest version.
  2. If you're AirPlaying to an Apple TV, verify that its software is up to date. Click on Settings > General > Update Software.
  3. Ensure that AirPlay is enabled on your Apple TV. Choose Settings > AirPlay.
  4. Make sure that your iPad or iPhone has Wi-Fi turned on. (You should see the characteristic WiFi icon at the top left.) Enable Wi-Fi on your iOS device by going to Settings > Wi-Fi.
  5. Make sure all AirPlay devices are connected to the same network. Click Settings > Wi-Fi on your iOS device. The network with a tick next to it is the current network.
  6. Checking AirPlay speakers requires you to connect to the speaker. Usually this is done through Safari by entering the IP address into Safari (usually something like 192.168.0.25). If you do not know the IP address you can often find connected devices using Bonjour. Open Safari and click Bookmarks > Bonjour > Web Pages and choose the device. (If you can't locate the Bonjour speaker you should check Safari Preferences > Advanced to see if the Include Bonjour option is ticked On).
  7. If you can't locate your AirPlay speaker in Safari, you may need to reset the speaker and reconnect it to the network. Check with the manual how to reset the speaker and go through the installation process.
  8. Check that your internet connection is working. Some devices require internet connectivity. (See How to fix a WiFi connection.)
  9. Try moving the AirPlay speaker closer to your router.

Hopefully, these should enable you to getting a better connection between your AirPlay device and your Mac or iOS device.

AirPlay device is missing

AirPlay back again

AirPlay troubleshooting: How to connect to multiple speakers

When you're playing music from iTunes, you can choose an AirPlay target by clicking the AirPlay button to the left of the iTunes LCD. Choose a single device, or, if you want to send music to multiple locations, click Multiple and check the devices you want to use.

On an iOS device, tap the AirPlay button in Control Center, or in a music app, and choose a speaker; you can't stream to multiple targets from an iOS device, however.

AirPlay troubleshooting: iTunes outputs

AirPlay troubleshooting: Stream AirPlay over ethernet

You may have discovered that third-party AirPlay devices aren't always ideal. Some devices lose connectivity, or play back music with stutters and pauses. My experience with such devices has been mixed, and I think the problem is that these devices don't have adequate antennas to pick up Wi-Fi signals efficiently. In addition, some hi-fi separates may offer AirPlay but not have integrated Wi-Fi. With some amplifiers or receivers, you can buy an optional Wi-Fi adaptor to use them wirelessly.

You can get around this using AirPlay over ethernet. If you have an amplifier or receiver that supports AirPlay and has an ethernet port, connect it to the network; AirPlay works perfectly. I use the Yamaha R-N301 (£199 on Amazon) connected to my network with a powerline adaptor. (You don't need very high bandwidth for audio only.) Streaming is always perfect; no glitches, no dropouts.

AirPlay troubleshooting: AirPort Express

AirPlay targets include the Apple TV, standalone speakers, and hi-fi amplifiers and receivers. You can stream to any system using an AirPort Express; just connect its combination analog/optical audio jack to a device with the appropriate cable. The (£79) AirPort Express also lets you extend a Wi-Fi network; but if you simply want a device to use AirPlay, get the 3rd-generation Apple TV, which offers the same streaming options, as well as all the other features of that device.

Make sure to tick Enable AirPlay/AirTunes on the Music tab of AirPort Utility when setting up the AirPort Express, if you're using that device.

AirPlay troubleshooting: 'AirPlay Device Is Not Available' and 'Use This Computer for Now' errors

Sometimes when using direct Mac OS X AirPlay and an AirPlay device in iTunes we get an error message that says:

The AirPlay device "[name of speaker]" is not available. Please verify your network settings and AirPlay configuration, or select another device from the AirPlay menu.

Beneath it are two buttons: Use This Computer for Now and OK.

The AirPlay Device is not available

We get this message when we have connected both Mac OS X to the AirPlay speaker (via the Volume option) and directly from iTunes.

(You can connect Mac OS X directly to AirPlay by holding Option and clicking the Volume icon in Menu bar, and then choosing the AirPlay speaker. The Mac OS X AirPlay connection enables you to play audio directly from some apps, like Spotify, or websites directly to an AirPlay speaker system.)

Sometimes if you use both macOS (or Mac OS X) and iTunes to connect to AirPlay you can hit connectivity problems. Here's how to solve this problem.

  1. Select 'Use This Computer for Now'.
  2. Click on AirPlay in iTunes, and choose Computer.
  3. Hold down Option and click Volume in Mac OS X and choose Line Out (our default output).
  4. Now return to iTunes and click AirPlay and choose the AirPlay device (in our case the Pioneer A3 speaker).

This technique should enable you to use the AirPlay speaker again.

Additional reporting by Kirk McElhearn