How to Fix AirPlay When It’s Not Working

Apple’s handy AirPlay feature can sometimes be quirky. And if that’s your current experience, you’re lucky we’re here to help.

There are many reasons AirPlay won’t stream audio or video content from your devices. Sometimes, it could result from a faulty internet connection, while other times, your Apple device won’t properly send your content to your desired destination.

Regardless, you can fix most AirPlay issues using some easy and quick methods. Below, we’ll look at some of the many ways to fix AirPlay when it’s not working.

1. Check AirPlay Compatibility

AirPlay doesn’t work on all devices out there, so you first need to check if your device supports this feature. Apple has published a list of devices you can use AirPlay on, which includes the following:

Devices You Can Stream Audio From Using AirPlay:

  • iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 11.4 or later
  • Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K running tvOS 11.4 or later
  • HomePod running iOS 11.4 or later
  • Mac with iTunes 12.8 or later OR macOS Catalina or later
  • Windows PC with iTunes 12.8 or later

Devices You Can Stream Video From Using AirPlay:

  • iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 12.3 or later
  • Mac running macOS Mojave 10.14.5 or later

In addition to streaming video/audio from an AirPlay-enabled device, you can also AirPlay content to a Mac from your iPhone (or iPad), provided your Mac has the AirPlay Receiver setting, which we’ll discuss right below.

Remember that the device you’re streaming content to should also be compatible with AirPlay. Many compatible devices have an AirPlay-enabled label, so you know they work with this feature.

2. Adjust AirPlay Receiver Settings in macOS

You don’t need an Apple TV to use AirPlay—your Mac is an AirPlay receiver. By default, only devices signed in to your Apple ID can AirPlay content to your Mac, but you can change that.

Go to System Preferences > Sharing and check the box next to AirPlay Receiver. In the right-hand section, untick Require password so new devices can AirPlay to this Mac without password verification. If preferred, choose Everyone next to Allow Airplay for to allow anyone nearby to see this Mac as an AirPlay target.

Apple suggests using modern iPhones (iPhone 7 and later) and Macs (introduced in 2018 and later) for the best experience. However, you can still use this feature on older models at a lower video resolution. For example, we could AirPlay from an iPhone 6s, which isn’t on Apple’s recommended list.

3. Wake Devices and Keep Them Close

If it wasn’t obvious enough, remember that all your devices must be turned on and unlocked to use AirPlay.

When using AirPlay in tvOS, ensure the Apple TV isn’t in sleep mode by clicking the remote to bring the device out of it. Apple recommends bringing your devices as close to each other as possible. If your AirPlay devices are too far away, keep them within Bluetooth range (33 feet or 10 meters) to increase the connection strength.

4. Turn On AirPlay Indicator in the Status Bar

When macOS detects an AirPlay device on the network, an AirPlay icon will appear in the menu bar. If no icon is visible, you might have turned it off.

You can go to System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar. Select Screen Mirroring on the left side to add it back. On the right side, tick Show in menu bar and choose Everyone from the menu. Now you can quickly start or stop AirPlay, mirror the screen, or use a nearby iPad as a second display—all from the menu bar.

5. Disable Automatic AirPlay to TVs

An iPhone or iPad may automatically AirPlay content to your Apple TV or AirPlay-compatible smart TV every time you use the feature. To stop that from happening, go to Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff > Automatically AirPlay to TVs and choose Never.

Doing so shall stop your iPhone from automatically connecting to a nearby Apple TV whenever you want to cast something on your Mac.

6. Turn Off Airplane Mode

Enabling Airplane Mode in iOS/iPadOS turns off all wireless radios except for Bluetooth. AirPlay requires both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you’ll need to quit Airplane Mode to use AirPlay.

Open the Control Center on your iPhone or iPad by swiping down from the top-right corner, then touch a little airplane icon to toggle Airplane Mode. Alternatively, go to Settings > Airplane Mode to turn it on or off.

7. Switch on Bluetooth

Apple recommends that you enable Bluetooth to use AirPlay on your iOS-based devices. You can turn Bluetooth on using a couple of ways on your iPhone and iPad.

One way is to pull down from the top-right and touch the Bluetooth icon in the Control Center. Doing so will toggle Bluetooth on or off. Another way is to go to Settings > Bluetooth on your phone and use the toggle to disable the feature.

8. Use the Same Wi-Fi Network

Both devices must be on the same Wi-Fi network for AirPlay to work, especially if peer-to-peer discovery isn’t working for you.

To check what network you’re using on iOS, head into Settings > Wi-Fi to see the current network name. To check the Wi-Fi network on macOS, click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar to see the name of the network you’re using (consult our dedicated guide for advice on what to do if your Mac won’t connect to Wi-Fi)

Apple TV users can check their current network in the Settings > Network menu. If your TV uses an Ethernet connection, connect it to the same router that creates your Wi-Fi connection.

9. Restart Your Devices

Sometimes the best solution is to restart all the devices you wish to use with AirPlay. On iOS/iPadOS, choose Settings > General > Shut Down. On tvOS, select Settings > System > Restart. To restart your Mac, click on the Apple menu and choose Restart.

10. Reboot Your Router

One of the reasons AirPlay cannot stream your content could be an issue with your router. It might be that your router is restricting content due to a minor problem with its firmware.

In most cases, you can fix this by rebooting the router. Our tutorial shows you how to restart most routers—turning a router off and back on fixes many common networking problems.

11. Tweak Your Firewall Settings in macOS

If your AirPlay issue is Mac-specific, chances are that the firewall is using a rule that blocks the AirPlay connection. Luckily, you can modify all the macOS firewall options in a few clicks.

Head over to System Preferences > Security & Privacy in macOS. Now, head to the Firewall tab and click on Firewall Options (you may need to click the padlock icon and provide your Mac password to unlock these settings).

Now, untick the Block all incoming connections option, and tick Automatically allow downloaded signed software to receive incoming connections.

Lastly, hit the OK button to save your changes.

12. Update Your Devices to the Latest Software

All AirPlay devices should be using the latest software version available for them. That includes not only the Apple TV but also the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You can check out the following tutorials that walk you through using Apple’s Software Update feature.

If you want a quick rundown of the process, here’s what you need to do:

On iOS, venture into Settings > General > Software Update. And for macOS updates, go to System Preferences > Software Update. To update the HomePod, open its settings in the Home app for iOS/iPadOS and choose Software Update.

Lastly, Apple TV users can head to Settings > System > Software Updates in tvOS whenever they want to update their device.

Other Options for Connecting Apple Devices

It can be frustrating when AirPlay stops functioning when you need it most. Trying out the tips outlined above should fix your AirPlay woes. If not, it’s probably time to contact Apple Support.

AirPlay isn’t the only way to connect your iPhone or iPad to a smart TV. There are other ways to bring your device’s content onto your TV, and you should consider exploring them whenever AirPlay doesn’t work for one reason or another.

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