Troubleshooting AirPlay: What to Do When It's Not Working

The AirPlay modal in the iOS control center


AirPlay is one of the iPad's coolest features, especially when you use AirPlay to connect your iPad to your TV via Apple TV. Apps like Real Racing 3 even utilize a two-screen feature, which allows the app to show one thing on the TV and another thing on the iPad's screen. 

Unfortunately, AirPlay is not perfect. And because AirPlay seems to just magically work, it can be difficult to troubleshoot. But AirPlay actually works on relatively simple principles and we'll use those to solve the problems with AirPlay connecting properly.

Make Sure Your Apple TV or Airplay Device Is Powered On

It might sound simple, but it is amazingly easy to miss the simplest of things. So first things first, make sure that your AirPlay device is powered on.

Reboot the AirPlay Device

If the device was powered on, go ahead and turn the power off. For Apple TV, this will mean either disconnecting it from the power outlet or unplugging the cord from the back of the Apple TV because it does not have an on/off switch. Leave it unplugged for a couple of seconds and then plug it back in. After Apple TV boots back up, you will want to wait until it is connected to the network to try AirPlay.

Verify Both Devices Are Connected to the Same Wi-fi Network

AirPlay works by connecting through the Wi-Fi network, so both devices need to be on the same network for it to work. You can check which network you are connected to on your iPad by opening the Settings app. You will see your Wi-Fi network's name next to the Wi-Fi option in the left-side menu. If this reads "off," you will need to turn on Wi-Fi and connect to the same network as the AirPlay device.

You can check the Wi-Fi network on your Apple TV by going into settings and choosing "Network" for the 4th generation Apple TV or "General" and then "Network" for previous versions of Apple TV.

Make sure AirPlay is Turned on

While you are in the Apple TV settings, verify that AirPlay is actually turned on. Choose the "AirPlay" option in settings to verify the feature is ready to go. 

Reboot the iPad

If you are still having problems finding the Apple TV or AirPlay device in the iPad's control panel, it is time to reboot the iPad. You can do this by holding down the Sleep/Wake button until the iPad prompts you to slide the power button to power off the device. After you slide the button and power down the iPad, wait until the screen is completely dark and then hold the Sleep/Wake button down again to power it up.

Reboot the Router

In most cases, rebooting the devices and verifying that they are connecting to the same network will solve the problem. But in rare instances, the router itself becomes the issue. If you have tried everything and you are still experiencing issues, reboot the router. Most routers have an on/off switch in the back, but if you can't find one, you can reboot the router by unplugging it from the outlet, waiting a few seconds and then plugging it back in again.

It will take several minutes for the router to boot up and get reconnected to the Internet. Usually, you will know it is connected because the lights will start flickering. Many routers also have a network light to show you when it is connected.

It is always a good idea to warn everyone in the household that the router is being rebooted and to save any work on computers that may need the internet connection.

Update Your Router's Firmware

If you are still having problems and are comfortable enough with your router's settings, you might try updating the firmware if you are still experiencing problems. Problems that persist after rebooting the devices tend to either be firmware-related or a firewall blocking the ports used by AirPlay, which also can be corrected by updating the firmware.