How to Use AirPlay Mirroring

Using AirPlay Mirroring
The AirPlay Mirroring Menu in IOS 10.

The iPhone and iPad are excellent portable media devices. From their massive game libraries to their ability to stream video over the web and let us rent or buy TV and movies from the iTunes Store, they offer an amazing array of portable entertainment options. Sometimes, though, even the big screens on the iPad or iPhone 7 Plus can seem a little small—especially when you want to share what's on that screen with a group of people and don't want to force them all the huddle close.

That's when, if you've got all the required things, AirPlay Mirroring comes to the rescue.

AirPlay and Mirroring

Apple's AirPlay technology has been a cool and useful component of the iOS/iTunes ecosystem for years. With it, you can stream music from your iOS device over Wi-Fi to any compatible device or speaker. Not only did this allow you to create your own wireless home audio system, it also meant that your music wasn't just confined to your iPhone. You could also go to a friend's house and play your music for them over their speakers (assuming they were connected to Wi-Fi, that is).

But AirPlay only supported audio streaming. If you had a video you wanted to share, you were out of luck until AirPlay Mirroring came along.

AirPlay Mirroring, which Apple introduced with iOS 5 and has been available on all iOS devices ever since expands AirPlay to allow you to display everything that's happening on your iPhone or iPad's screen on an HDTV (i.e., "mirror" it).

This is more than just streaming content; AirPlay Mirroring allows you to share your screen, so you can share web browsing, photos, or even play a game on your device and have it show up on a 40-plus-inch screen.

AirPlay Mirroring Requirements

To use AirPlay Mirroring you'll need:

How to Use AirPlay Mirroring

  1. Begin by connecting your compatible device to the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV you want to use for mirroring.
  2. Once you're connected, swipe up to reveal Control Center (earlier versions of the iOS had AirPlay Mirroring in the fast app switcher/multitasking view, but almost no one uses those versions anymore).
  3. The AirPlay button is on the right-hand side of Control Center, around the middle of the panel.
  4. Tap the AirPlay Mirroring button. In the list of devices that appears, tap Apple TV.
  5. Move the Mirroring slider to green (in iOS 7-9). In iOS 10, mirroring happens once you tap the button, no need to move any sliders. 
  6. Tap Done (not required in iOS 10). Your device is now connected to the Apple TV and mirroring will begin (sometimes there's a short delay before mirroring starts up).

Notes About AirPlay Mirroring

  • You may encounter short delays between what's happening on your device's screen and when it appears on the HDTV. These delays may be noticeable, but they shouldn't be substantial.
  • If the delays are significant, there may be interference with the Wi-Fi signal or your Wi-Fi network may not be fast enough. In this case, make sure no other devices are trying to connect to the Apple TV, reduce or end other use of the Wi-Fi network, and ensure that Bluetooth is turned off on the device you're mirroring.
  • Depending on your TV and the content you're mirroring, the image you mirror may not fill the entire screen and instead shows a square image with black bars on either side. This is due to a difference between the iPhone/iPad screen resolutions, and the resolution of the content they show, and the TV.

Turning Off AirPlay Mirroring

To end AirPlay Mirroring, either disconnect the device you were mirroring from Wi-Fi or follow the steps you used to turn mirroring on and tap Done.