How to Turn on AirPlay on a Mac

Look for the AirPlay icon in apps and on the menu bar

What to Know

  • To screen mirror: Select the AirPlay icon in the menu bar > choose your compatible TV > enter a passcode if necessary.
  • Within apps like Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, or Apple TV, look for the AirPlay audio or display icon.
  • AirPlay works with most Macs 2011 and later and compatible smart TVs and speakers.

This article explains how to turn on AirPlay on a Mac. You can use this feature to stream video or audio or extend or mirror your Mac display.

How Do I Activate AirPlay?

You can turn on AirPlay on your Mac from the menu bar, system preferences, or within certain apps.

Turn on AirPlay Screen Mirroring on Your Mac

To extend or mirror your Mac’s display, follow these steps to set up AirPlay.

  1. Open System Preferences > Displays.

    Displays option from System Preferences on macOS.
  2. From the AirPlay drop-down menu, select an available display.

    AirPlay drop-down menu options from Displays settings on macOS.

    If you’d like quick menu-bar access to AirPlay, select the box next to Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available.

  3. Alternatively, look for the AirPlay icon in the Apple menu bar. Click it and choose an Apple or AirPlay-compatible smart TV.

    AirPlay menu bar icon displaying available devices on a Mac.

    To connect for the first time, you may be required to enter a passcode.

  4. Control the mirroring or display options from the AirPlay icon in the menu bar.

    AirPlay display options from the AirPlay icon in the Mac menu bar.

    To turn off AirPlay, use the menu bar icon or set the drop-down menu to Off from System Preferences > Displays > AirPlay. On your iPod or iPhone, use the Control Center shortcut.

Turn on AirPlay to Stream Audio From Your Mac

If you’d like to stream only audio from your Mac, you can do that with AirPlay.

  1. Open an AirPlay-enabled app such as Apple Music or Podcasts.

  2. Navigate to the item you want to play and look for the Apple AirPlay icon.

    The AirPlay icon for audio streaming differs from the icon representing screen mirroring.

  3. Select the device to cast audio to by checking the box beside it. The track should automatically play after you’ve made your choice.

    AirPlay options for audio casting from Apple Podcasts to a compatible device.

    In Apple Music and with compatible devices, you can select multiple devices for streaming audio. To stop playing on a particular device, uncheck the box beside it. 

    Selecting multiple AirPlay 2 devices to play audio on from Apple Music on a Mac.

Do All Macs Have AirPlay?

All newer Macs and older models (released in 2011 and later) have built-in AirPlay. Devices you can stream to using AirPlay include:

  • Apple TVs (4K, HD, and 2nd and 3rd generation models)
  • AirPlay-compatible speakers
  • HomePods
  • AirPort Express speakers

Macs running macOS Catalina (10.15), macOS Mojave (10.14.5), or iTunes 12.8 and later have an upgraded form of AirPlay called AirPlay 2, compatible with:

  • AirPlay 2-compatible smart TVs
  • Apple TVs with tvOS 11.4 and higher 
  • HomePods running iOS 11.4 and later
  • Speakers connected to Airport Express (2nd Generation)

Devices operating with these system requirements can stream audio to more than one AirPlay 2-compatible speaker or smart TV simultaneously.

Why Can’t I Turn on AirPlay on My Mac?

First, ensure Apple supports the device you want to use for AirPlay streaming. If you don’t have an Apple TV, look for information about AirPlay 2 support from your TV manufacturer. Some products might have special “works with AirPlay” labeling on their packaging.

If you’ve confirmed compatibility, it could be an issue with connectivity or your AirPlay settings. Try these fixes:

  • Move your Mac closer to the device you want to stream to.
  • Restart your Mac and smart TV or speaker.
  • Update your macOS operating system if necessary.
  • Double-check that you’ve connected both devices to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Check access restrictions on Apple TV or HomePod that could be blocking AirPlay from working.
  • How do I turn on AirPlay on an iPad?

    To turn on AirPlay on an iPad, swipe down from the upper-right corner to access the Control Center, then tap Screen Mirroring. You'll see a menu with any devices that are available for AirPlay. Tap the device you want to connect to your iPad and you'll see your iPad's contents mirrored.

  • How do you turn on AirPlay on an iPhone?

    To turn on AirPlay on an iPhone, swipe to open the Control Center, and then tap Screen Mirroring or AirPlay Mirroring, depending on your iOS version. Select your compatible device, such as an Apple TV, and you'll see your iPhone's contents displayed.

  • How do you turn on AirPlay on a Vizio smart TV?

    Press the V button or Home button on your Vizio TV remote, and then select the Extras menu from the top of the screen. Highlight and select AirPlay to enable the feature.

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