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

Get your AirPlay back up and working in no time

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 or iPhone to your TV via Apple TV. Whether you are giving a presentation, surfing the net, or playing a game, there's nothing quite like seeing it happen on your wide-screen TV.

Because AirPlay seems to work magically, it can seem confusing to troubleshoot, but AirPlay works on simple principles. Solving AirPlay connection problems is usually simple as well.

Information in this article applies to iPads and iPhones running iOS 12, 11, or 10. A second-generation or later Apple TV is required.

Making an AirPlay Connection

When everything is working correctly, you access AirPlay by pulling down on the upper right side of the iPad or iPhone screen (in iOS 12 or iOS 11) to open the Control Center. Pull up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center in earlier versions of iOS.

Tap Screen Mirroring (in iOS 12 or iOS 11) or AirPlay (in earlier versions of the iOS) and then select Apple TV from the window that opens. That's all that's needed to start mirroring your iPad screen on your TV using an Apple TV.

iPad Control Center showing Screen Mirroring button

When everything isn't working properly, follow these troubleshooting steps and you'll be back to mirroring your iOS device on your TV in no time.

Confirm Apple TV AirPlay Is Turned On

In the Apple TV Settings app, verify that the AirPlay feature is activated. Choose Settings > AirPlay on the Apple TV and confirm it is turned on. 

Verify the Wi-Fi Network Connection

AirPlay works through the Wi-Fi network, so both devices must be on the same network for the feature to work. Check which network your iPad or iPhone is connected to by opening the Settings app. Your Wi-Fi network's name should appear next to Wi-Fi in the left panel. 

If the Wi-Fi setting reads Off, go to Wi-Fi in the main part of the screen and move the slider to the On/green position. Then select a network from the options that appear.

iPad Settings showing Wi-Fi settings

Check the Wi-Fi network on your Apple TV by going into Settings and choosing Network (for the 4th generation Apple TV or later) or General > Network (for earlier versions of Apple TV). It must show that it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your iOS device.

Restart Both Devices

If problems persist, restart both devices. For Apple TVs, this means disconnecting it from the power outlet or unplugging the cord from the back of the Apple TV. Leave it unplugged for a few seconds and then plug it back in. After the Apple TV restarts, wait until it is connected to the network to try AirPlay.

To restart your iOS device, depending on the model, you may need to press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and then slide the on-screen slider to power off the device or press and hold the Side or top button and one of the volume buttons for a restart.

Restart the Router

In most cases, verifying that both devices are connected to the same network and restarting them solves the problem. However, in rare instances, the router itself becomes the issue. If you have tried everything else, reboot the router. If you don't see an on/off switch on the back of the router, unplug it from the outlet, wait a few seconds and then plug it in again.

It takes several minutes for a router to boot up and reconnect to the internet. Usually, you know when it is connected because the lights flicker. Many routers also have a network light to show you when the internet connection is made.

It's a good idea to warn everyone in the household that the router is being rebooted, so they can save any work on computers that need the internet connection.