If you want to mirror or stream content from your Mac, iPhone or iPad to your TV or a wireless speaker, you will need to use AirPlay, Apple’s software for wireless streaming. If you are having problems getting your music or video to stream we have the solutions here. Read on for all our tips for getting AirPlay to work.

Here’s what you need if you want to stream video or audio from an iPhone or iPad to a TV or speaker. If the process isn’t working as you would expect the first thing to do is check you have the following:

  1. If you are planning on streaming from or mirroring your iPhone, iPad or Mac on your TV screen you will need an Apple TV. (read: How to connect an iPad or iPhone to a TV)
  2. If you want to stream music from your iPhone, iPad or Mac you will need AirPlay compatible speakers (we have a round up of the best wireless speakers here, and John Lewis lists these speakers that support AirPlay here).
  3. The latest software - check your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV and AirPlay compatible speaker are up to date with the latest software (note that some people had issues with AirPlay in iOS 11 - more information below).

If despite having all of the above, AirPlay is not working on your Mac, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV then we have the following advice. Here are our tips for how to get AirPlay to work.

  1. Reboot your rooter.
  2. Check all the devices are on the same Wi-Fi network.
  3. Make sure that there aren’t nearby devices that are interfering.

If AirPlay is still not working on your Mac, iOS device, or Apple TV, we have various suggestions below for different scenarios. Hopefully you will find the solution to your AirPlay problems below.

AirPlay not working following software update

From time to time a MacOS or iOS software update might actually be the cause of issues with AirPlay.

This happened in iOS 11, when some people took to Apple’s forum to look for answers when AirPlay stopped working following an iOS 11 update in September 2017.

There were a few suggestions as to how to fix this issue, although perhaps the reason people were confused by AirPlay in iOS 11 was that Apple had made changes to the way that the feature appeared in Control Centre and some of its functionality.

If you have been having trouble with AirPlay following an iOS update, try these steps:

  1. Force restart your device - read about how to force restart your iPhone (or iPad) here.
  2. Reset your network settings on your iPhone or iPad in Settings > General > Reset, and tap on Reset Network Settings.

Not seeing AirPlay in Control Centre

Connecting two devices via AirPlay is generally a simple process or swiping up on your iPhone or iPad to reveal Control Centre and then tapping on the Screen Mirroring option with it’s rectangle/triangle icon if you wish to stream to the TV via Apple TV, or tapping the audio card in the top right and then the triangle/rainbow icon if you want to stream music to your stereo (or Apple TV).

Somewhat confusingly in earlier versions of iOS the option to stream to a TV was named AirPlay Mirroring. When this change happened some people may have thought that the option to AirPlay had been removed when it had just been renamed.

The new name makes sense, but only if you aren’t already familiar with AirPlay as the name for streaming from one device to another.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the new name suggests that the screen of your iPhone or iPad will be mirrored on the Apple TV - meaning that your iPhone will be out of action while you stream the content to the TV. As we will discuss in the next section, it used to be the case that you could stream to the TV from some apps while you continued to use your iPhone. The new mirroring feature means that as soon as you leave the app the stream will switch to match the screen of your iOS device. It’s a bit annoying, but luckily on the flip side, the content you were previously streaming may now be available via an Apple on the Apple TV (assuming you have a newer model of Apple TV with the App Store that is).

Airplay without mirroring isn’t working

Another change in iOS 11 that confused AirPlay users was the fact that the ability to Airplay without mirroring disappeared.

After upgrading to iOS 11 users can only stream AirPlay content while it's on the screen of their device. Prior to iOS 11 users were able to stream the contents of some apps from an iPhone or iPad to a TV - allowing them to continue to use the iPhone or iPad as a second screen. Perfect if you wanted to continue to use Facebook while watching a video stream on your TV.

Some apps still have this functionality because they are AirPlay enabled (Netflix, Amazon, for example). However, if you are trying to stream video from say, Safari, you may find you can’t stream it to your Apple TV without using screen mirroring.

iPhone isn’t seeing Apple TV

When you swipe up on Control Centre and tap on Screen Mirroring you should see your AirPlay devices - including any Apple TV that is on the network listed there.

However, you may see the message: Looking for Apple TV… If you do, then follow these steps:

  1. Wake up your Apple TV - if your Apple TV is plugged in to the network via Ethernet rather than using Wi-FI you may need to wake your Apple TV up before it appears as an option for Screen Mirroring.
  2. Make sure the software on your Apple TV and iOS device is up to date. Here’s how to update the software on an Apple TV and how to update the software on an iPhone or iPad.
  3. Restart your iPhone (or iPad if that’s what you are trying to connect from).
  4. Restart the Apple TV.
  5. Ensure that AirPlay is turned on in Settings on the Apple TV. Go to Settings > AirPlay.
  6. Go to Settings > Wi-FI on your iPhone/iPad and make sure that the Wi-Fi network you are connected to is the same one that your Apple TV is using.
  7. Check your Wi-Fi network is working - we have advice here about what to do if there is an issue with your Wi-Fi.

iPhone isn’t seeing HomePod or speaker

If you want to stream music to a Wi-Fi speaker (or Apple’s HomePod) it should be an easy process.

  1. Just find the music you want to play on your iPhone using whichever app you prefer (Music, Amazon Music, Shazam, for example).
  2. Swipe up on Control Centre and press hard on the audio card until it takes you to the next screen then tap the triangle/rainbow icon in the top right.
  3. You should then see the speakers listed as an option to stream too.

However, if the speakers, or HomePod, aren’t appearing an option, here’s what to do:

  1. Check that the speakers are plugged in and turned on (you’d be surprised how often this is the case).
  2. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Wi-FI and make sure that the Wi-Fi network you are connected to is the same one that your speakers or HomePod is using.
  3. Make sure that the speaker is on the same Wi-Fi network as your iOS device. In the case of the HomePod, it should automatically switch to the same network as the iPhone that it was linked to during set up.
  4. If speaker or HomePod is still not showing up, it could be related to a firewall on the network. We look at issues related to a firewall below.

We also have this guide to how to play music on HomePod without subscribing to Apple Music.

Can’t stream content from iPhone/iPad to TV

You need an Apple TV in order to stream content to a TV screen. We explain how to stream from your iPhone/iPad to your TV screen here.

  1. It is possible that the content you are stream to your TV screen via the Apple TV isn’t playing. In this case it may be that the content needs to be fully downloaded before it will play.
  2. Another reason why the content may not play via the Apple TV is if the app or website you are attempting to stream from doesn’t support AirPlay. We suggest that you check the website of the provider to see if it offers AirPlay support. e.g. Channel 4.

AirPlay sound not working

Sometimes the video will appear on the screen but you will hear no audio. If that’s the case follow these steps:

  1. It’s all too obvious, but check that the sound is turned up on your TV or speakers and also on your iPhone or iPad. Also make sure that you iPhone/iPad isn’t muted via the mute switch on the side (above the volume controls).
  2. Another possibility is that AirPlay isn’t fully supported by the app or webpage you are streaming from.

AirPlay video and sound aren’t in sync

This is a frustrating and frequent problem with all streaming devices unfortunately. The good news is that AirPlay 2, when it arrives later in 2018, should fix the problem of lag.

  1. Usually the main cause of lag is a weak Wi-Fi signal, so you may be able to solve the problem if you can plug your Apple TV straight into your router using an Ethernet cable.
  2. If that’s not an option, attempt to remove other devices that could be causing interference. These could include a microwave, a baby monitor, a cordless telephone, wireless speakers, or anything else that broadcasts over the same WiFi network.
  3. If you are in a particularly built up area your neighbours WiFi and Wi-Fi devices could also be interfering, in that case, try moving your Apple TV to a different location.

Lag when mirroring Mac to Apple TV

If you are mirroring your Mac screen to an Apple TV, perhaps while delivering a presentation or because you are making use of the extra screen, you may experience annoying lag. If that’s the case we have the following suggestions:

  1. Click on the AirPlay icon in the menu bar and under the option Match Desktop Size To, make sure Apple TV is selected.
  2. Another option is to quit any apps that could be using RAM, because making more memory available may help.

Firewall issues with AirPlay

If you don’t see the Apple TV or HomePod when you try to AirPlay it may be due to issues with a Firewall.

  1. On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy.
  2. Click the lock icon and enter your administrator name and password.
  3. Click on the Firewall tab and choose Firewall Options.
  4. If “Block all incoming connections” is selected, deselect it.
  5. Make sure “Automatically allow downloaded signed software to receive incoming connections” is selected.

Hopefully you have found the solution to your problem above, if not share details of your AirPlay issues below.