How to Fix a Missing AirPlay Icon on iPhone and Mac

You can easily get the icon back

Apple's AirPlay technology makes it easy to stream music, podcasts, and video from one device to another, turning your home or office into a wireless entertainment system. Using AirPlay is usually a simple matter of a few taps on the iPhone or a few clicks on Mac. But what do you do when you find your AirPlay icon missing? 

The instructions in this article apply to iPhones and iPod touches running iOS 10 and up. They also apply to Macs running macOS 10.15 Catalina and up.

How to Fix Missing AirPlay Icon on iPhone and iPod Touch

AirPlay is built into the iOS (the operating system that runs on the iPhone and iPod touch). That means you don't need to install anything to use it and it can't be uninstalled. It can, however, be turned on and off.

There are two ways to access AirPlay controls. The first way is from Control Center, which lets you access AirPlay Mirroring options and choose audio outputs for AirPlay in the music controls. AirPlay can also be used from within apps that support it. In those apps, the AirPlay icon will appear when available (it's a triangle pushing into the bottom of a rectangle or three concentric rings, depending on your version of the iOS).

But if the AirPlay icon is missing from Control Center or in apps that normally offer it, you may have a problem. Follow these steps to solve a missing AirPlay icon:

  1. Turn on Wi-Fi. AirPlay only works over Wi-Fi, not cellular networks, so you have to be connected to Wi-Fi in order to use it.

  2. Use AirPlay-compatible devices. Not all multimedia devices are compatible with AirPlay. You have to make sure you're trying to connect to devices that support AirPlay.

  3. Make sure iPhone and AirPlay device are on the same Wi-Fi network. Your iPhone or iPod touch can only communicate with the AirPlay device if all of devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. If your iPhone is on one network, but the AirPlay device on another, AirPlay won't work.

  4. Restart Devices. It never hurts to restart your iPhone, iPod touch, Mac or Apple TV if AirPlay is missing. A good restart will often clear out pesky glitches.

  5. Update to the latest version of the iOS. If you've tried all the earlier tips, it never hurts to make sure that you're running the latest version of the iOS.

  6. Ensure AirPlay is enabled on Apple TV. If you're trying to use an Apple TV with AirPlay but the AirPlay icon is missing from your phone or computer, you need to ensure that AirPlay is enabled on the Apple TV. To do that, on the Apple TV go to ​Settings > AirPlay and make sure it's turned on.

  7. AirPlay Mirroring only works with Apple TV and Macs. If you're wondering why AirPlay Mirroring isn't available, even though AirPlay is, make sure you're trying to connect to an Apple TV or a Mac. Those are the only devices that support AirPlay mirroring.

  8. Wi-Fi interference or router issues. In some rare cases, it's possible that your iOS device is not communicating with an AirPlay device due to interference on your Wi-Fi network. This can be caused other devices or due to configuration problems on your Wi-Fi router. In those cases, try restarting devices like your router first. If that doesn't work, remove other Wi-Fi devices from the network one at a time to reduce interference or consult your router's technical support information (Believe it or not, non-Wi-Fi devices like microwave ovens can also cause interference, so you may need to check those out, too.)

If you're on a Windows PC and AirPlay seems to be missing, your problem—and its solution—may be very different.

How to Fix Missing AirPlay Icon on a Mac

Screenshot of AirPlay in the Mac menu bar

AirPlay is also built into recent versions of the macOS, which lets you AirPlay content from all kinds of apps and even mirror your Mac's screen to other devices. If the AirPlay icon is missing from your Mac, try these steps to get it back:

  1. Try steps 1-3, and 8, from the iPhone section of this article.

  2. Update the version of the macOS running on your Mac. Just like with the iPhone, running old software could cause the AirPlay icon to disappear. An update may fix it.

  3. Check your Mac's firewall settings. The firewall software built into your Mac protects it from attack by blocking unknown attempts to connect to your computer. That can sometimes block useful things like AirPlay, too. Try changing your firewall settings in Settings > Security & Privacy > Firewall > Firewall Options. Check the box next to Automatically allow signed software to receive incoming connections.

  4. Enable AirPlay Mirroring in the menu bar. Make it easier to find the AirPlay icon by adding it to the menu bar in the top right corner of the screen. To do this, go to Settings > Displays > check the box next to Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available. With that checked, whenever there are AirPlay devices to connect to, the AirPlay icon will appear in your menu bar. Just click it and select a device you want.

How to Fix a Missing AirPlay Icon in iTunes and Apple Music

The Apple Music app with the AirPlay menu open

AirPlay is also available in Apple Music and iTunes. This allows you to stream audio and video from your music library to AirPlay-compatible devices. If you're not seeing the AirPlay icon there, try steps 1-4 from the last section. You can also try step 8.

If those don't work, upgrade to the latest version of Apple Music or iTunes, and make sure you're running the latest version of macOS. As with iOS devices, make sure you've got the latest version of iTunes if you're having problems.

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