What Is Screen Mirroring?

Share media from a smart device to a TV for better viewing

Screen mirroring technology lets you send the media that’s playing on your smaller Android, Windows, or Apple device to a larger one, such as a television or media projector, wirelessly. You can mirror personal photos, music, videos, games, and more, including content from the internet or an app like Netflix or YouTube.

The protocol used to wirelessly mirror one screen to another is called Miracast, a word you might encounter as you learn more about the technology.


What is Screen Mirroring?

Connect Your Phone or Other Device to a TV

To use screen mirroring, both devices have to meet a few minimum requirements. Your phone or tablet must support mirroring and be able to send out data. The TV or projector must also support screen mirroring and be able to capture and play that data.

To find out if your phone or tablet supports mirroring, refer to the documentation or perform an internet search. Note that you might also have to enable the Miracast or Screen Mirroring feature in Settings, so keep an eye out for that too. You may even be able to show your phone screen on your computer.

As for a television, there are two broad technologies. You can mirror to either a newer, smart TV or projector that has screen mirroring built-in or you can purchase a media streaming device and connect it to an available HDMI port on an older TV. Because the data arrives wirelessly and over your home network, you must configure that TV or the media stick to connect to that network as well..

Compatibility Issues When You Mirror a Screen

Not all devices play well together. You can’t just mirror any phone to any TV screen or somehow connect a phone to a TV using a magic app and force it to work. Just because both devices support screen mirroring doesn’t mean anything either; the devices also have to be compatible with each other. This compatibility is where problems often arise.

As you might suspect, devices from the same manufacturer generally are compatible with each other. For instance, you can share media from a newer Kindle Fire tablet to Amazon’s Fire TV easily. They’re both made by Amazon and designed to work together. And, since Fire devices use the Android operating system, many Android-based phones and tablets are compatible as well.

Likewise, you can mirror media from your iPhone to an Apple TV. Apple made both, and they are compatible with each other. The Apple TV works with iPads too. However, you can’t stream media from an Android or Windows device to an Apple TV. 

Other devices like Google’s Chromecast and Roku’s media devices also have limitations, as do smart TVs in general, so if you’re in the market for a mirroring solution, take into consideration what you’ll be streaming from before you purchase something to stream to.

Explore Mirroring Apps

When you play media on your smartphone or tablet, you use an app. Perhaps you watch cable-based movies and live TV with Hulu. Maybe you listen to music with Spotify or watch how-to videos with YouTube. These apps support screen mirroring.

Take a minute to test it out. Here’s how to explore your media apps in very general terms:

  1. Open an app on your device that lets you view media.

  2. Play any available media in that app.

  3. Tap the screen and tap the mirroring icon that appears there.

  4. If you have a device available to mirror to (and it’s turned on and ready to use), you’ll see it listed there.

The Screen Mirroring Experience

Once you’re watching your media via screen mirroring, you’ll use the controls on your phone or tablet to control it. You can fast forward and rewind, pause, and restart, provided the app and the media allow for it. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to control the television itself, though; keep the remote handy that works the volume.

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