What is AirPlay? How to use Apple’s media-sharing feature

Samsung TV (airplay)
You can AirPlay content from an iPhone to a smart TV directly within a media player app.

  • Apple’s AirPlay feature allows users to stream videos, images, music, and other forms of media from an Apple device to another compatible device.
  • You can AirPlay content from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to an Apple TV or AirPlay-compatible smart TVs and speakers.
  • For AirPlay to work, both devices have to be on the same Wi-Fi network, ethernet cable, or within Bluetooth range.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Apple introduced AirPlay as a feature over a decade ago, but it still remains one of the most convenient ways to share media across Apple devices and other compatible systems.

What is AirPlay?

AirPlay is a feature that allows Apple devices (commonly iPhones) to share media – like videos, images, and music – to other devices like TVs and monitors for dual screen mode, as long as they’re all within the same network. This means AirPlay can only work if both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, within Bluetooth range, or connected to the same router using an ethernet cable.

AirPlay1.PNG
This is what the AirPlay icon looks like.

For example, if you want to stream music to a Bluetooth speaker from your iPhone, AirPlay is a convenient way to do it. The same goes for videos: If you’re watching a YouTube video on your iPad but want to watch it on a bigger screen, AirPlay is the quickest way to maintain seamless viewing.

AirPlay is similar to Apple’s Airplay mirroring, but screen mirroring is typically used to copy an entire display to another device, like a projector or TV.

How to use AirPlay

  • From an iPhone to a TV: With the selected media open, find the AirPlay icon and select it. Under “Speakers & TVs” select the device you want to AirPlay the media to.
    AirPlay2.PNG
    Select the device under “Speakers & TVs.”

  • From an iPhone to a Mac computer: There is no direct way to AirPlay from an iPhone to a Mac, but you can download a third-party app or use Apple screen mirroring.
  • From a Mac computer to a TV: To AirPlay from a Mac to a TV, first make sure your Mac has AirPlay enabled using System Preferences.
    AirPlay4
    Make sure your AirPlay Display is enabled by selecting the name of the device.

  • From any Apple device to an Apple TV: Make sure the devices are all on the same Wi-Fi network. You’ll know if AirPlay is supported if you see the AirPlay icon.
  • From an Apple device to Roku: Before attempting to AirPlay, check to make sure your AirPlay-compatible Roku has AirPlay enabled and is connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Advantages of AirPlay

  • AirPlay is one of the easiest ways to share and stream media from one device to a speaker, television, or projector.
  • If the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or ethernet connection remains strong, content can be streamed rather seamlessly and without lag.
  • All new iOS devices support AirPlay, and the feature doesn’t require any setup or configuration like some other streaming outputs.

Disadvantages of AirPlay

  • AirPlay can only be used from one app at a time – this means you can’t stream a YouTube video to your Apple TV while also simultaneously streaming Spotify to a Bluetooth speaker.
  • Depending on your Wi-Fi connection, AirPlay can struggle and occasionally drop off or freeze entirely, which may require troubleshooting.
  • Perhaps the biggest con is that AirPlay is almost entirely exclusive to Apple; non-Apple devices may have to download additional software to use AirPlay.

How to troubleshoot when AirPlay isn’t working

If AirPlay isn’t working, you may need to troubleshoot the involved Apple or AirPlay-compatible devices, or even reset your Wi-Fi router. See our AirPlay troubleshooting guide for directions and further information.

How to AirPlay content to your Apple TV and mirror your phone or computer to a TV screenHow to use AirPlay to stream HBO Max on your TV from an iPhone or iPadHow to turn on AirPlay on a Mac computer, for screen mirroring on larger displays like an Apple or smart TVHow to use AirPlay on a Roku player to stream content from an Apple device

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How to screen mirror from your iPhone to a Samsung TV in 2 different ways

family on couch at home watching tv
It’s easy to mirror the screen of your iPhone to your Samsung TV using either Apple AirPlay or an HDMI cable.

  • You can screen mirror, or AirPlay, content from your iPhone to your Samsung TV.
  • Most Samsung TV models from 2018 or later are compatible with the current version of AirPlay called AirPlay 2.
  • If your Samsung TV isn’t AirPlay 2-compatible, or if you’d prefer a wired connection, you can still use a lightning-to-HDMI adapter to mirror your screen.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Screen mirroring is a common feature on most new technology that allows you to cast content from the screen of one device to the screen of another. Screen mirroring goes by many different names, but on Apple devices, it’s called AirPlay.

Though AirPlay is an Apple feature, since the advent of AirPlay 2 in 2018, it has become much easier to connect across device ecosystems. If you have a Samsung Smart TV made in 2018 or later, you will most likely be able to use AirPlay – see if your model is on this list to be sure.

There are two ways to access AirPlay on your iPhone – you can either select “Screen Mirroring” from the Control Center to mirror your entire iPhone screen, or you can select the AirPlay icon from within some apps to cast content from your iPhone to your TV. Alternatively, you can connect your iPhone to your Samsung TV with an HDMI cable to achieve the same effect. Here’s how to do it all.

How to turn on AirPlay on a Samsung TV

Before you can use screen mirroring or AirPlay, you need to first make sure the feature is enabled on your Samsung TV.

1. Using your TV remote, go to “Settings” and select “General.”

2. Choose “Apple AirPlay Settings” from the menu.

3. Select “AirPlay” and turn it to “On.”

How to screen mirror an iPhone to a Samsung TV using AirPlay 2

How to mirror your entire iPhone screen from the Control Center

1. Swipe down from the top-right of your iPhone’s screen to bring up the Control Center. For older iPhone models with a home button, the Control Center is accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

2. Tap “Screen Mirroring” beside an icon of two overlapping rectangles.

iPhone Control Center
Open the Control Center and tap “Screen Mirroring.”

3. Select your Samsung TV from the list of available devices.

iPhone Control Center  available devices pop-up
Your Samsung TV will appear in a list of available devices.

4. If a passcode appears on your Samsung TV, enter it into the pop-up on your iPhone.

5. Your entire iPhone screen should then begin mirroring onto your Samsung TV. When you play a video on your iPhone, your TV should automatically format it to full-screen.

How to AirPlay content from within apps

If you’d rather not mirror your entire phone’s screen to your TV, some major media services like Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Hulu have an AirPlay button directly in their apps. Unfortunately, Netflix no longer includes the in-app AirPlay option.

Some built-in iPhone apps like the Photos app have the AirPlay option as well, located in the “Share” menu.

1. Once you’ve made sure your phone and your TV are on the same Wi-Fi network, open the app and select the media you want to play.

2. Find the AirPlay button – a rectangle with a triangle beneath it, usually near the top-right or top left corner of the screen – and tap it. If you’re trying to AirPlay from the Photos app, tap the “Share” button, then select “AirPlay.”

Hulu in-app AirPlay button
Start playing the media you want to mirror, then tap the AirPlay button.

3. Choose the name of your Samsung TV from the list of available devices.

4. If a passcode appears on your Samsung TV, enter it into the pop-up on your iPhone.

5. Your photo or video should then begin mirroring onto your Samsung TV.

How to screen mirror an iPhone to Samsung TV with an HDMI cord and Lightning Digital AV adapter

If you find it easier to use a wired connection, or if your devices aren’t AirPlay-compatible, you can use an HDMI cable and a Lightning-to-HDMI adapter.

A Lightning-to-HDMI adapter is a dongle that attaches your iPhone to an HDMI cable, which connects to your TV. The adapter costs around $40 on Amazon, and you’ll also need to buy an HDMI cable if you don’t have one already.

1. Connect the Lightning end of the cable to your iPhone.

2. Plug one end of your HDMI cable into the other end of the adapter.

iPad AV adapter
Connect the HDMI cable to the adapter that’s plugged into the Lightning port of your iPad or iPhone.

3. Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to your Samsung TV.

4. Switch the input of the television to the corresponding HDMI channel.

5. Begin playing the desired media on your phone to see it on your TV.

How to change AirPlay settings on your Samsung TV

1. Using your TV remote, go to “Settings” and select “General.”

2. Choose “Apple AirPlay Settings” from the menu.

3. From here, choose one or more of the following options to make adjustments:

  • AirPlay: This allows you to turn your TV’s AirPlay feature on, which only needs to be done the first time you use AirPlay. You can also turn AirPlay off.
  • Subtitles and Captioning: This setting not only allows you to turn subtitles for your selected media on and off, it also lets you change the size, font, and color of the subtitles.
  • About AirPlay: Open this menu if you want to make sure you’re running the latest version of AirPlay, or to find information about your current software.
  • Require Code: When you first start using AirPlay, anybody on your Wi-Fi network with a compatible device can connect and mirror to your TV. If you want to prevent this for any reason, you can use this setting to create a passcode users need to enter before they can project anything to your TV.

Lightning Digital AV Adapter (small, Preferred: Amazon)How to use AirPlay to stream HBO Max on your TV from an iPhone or iPadHow to download The Roku Channel app on your Samsung Smart TV, and watch hundreds of free movies and TV showsHow to mirror your iPhone screen to a Mac computer with QuickTime or AirPlayHow to turn on AirPlay on a Mac computer, for screen mirroring on larger displays like an Apple or smart TV

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How to turn on and use AirPlay on a Mac, for screen mirroring on larger displays like a smart TV

family watching tv at home with laptops and tablets
It’s easy to AirPlay from your Mac computer to devices within range.

  • You can turn on AirPlay on a Mac through the System Preferences app’s “Displays” menu.
  • AirPlay on a Mac is handy when giving presentations, or just sharing content on a larger display.
  • You can AirPlay from your Mac to any AirPlay-compatible device, like an iPad and most smart TVs.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

AirPlay is a great way to share content between Apple devices, and even to non-Apple devices that are AirPlay-compatible like many smart TVs.

With AirPlay on Mac, you can share music, photos, videos, or just mirror your entire computer screen on a larger display – here’s how.

How to enable AirPlay on a Mac

1. Open System Preferences, which you can do by clicking the Apple symbol in the menu bar at the top of your screen and selecting “System Preferences” in the drop-down.

2. In System Preferences, find and select the icon for “Displays,” which looks like a computer monitor.

Mac System Preferences window
Go to “Displays” in System Preferences.

3. Check the box next to “Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available.”

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Make sure the box at the bottom of the Displays page is checked.

How to AirPlay your Mac to another device

You can mirror the display of your entire Mac screen onto an Apple TV or another AirPlay-compatible device, like an iPad or some smart TVs.

There are two ways to do this.

From the menu bar:

First, make sure your Mac is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as whatever device you’d like to AirPlay to. If you’re AirPlaying to an iPad, make sure they’re both logged into the same Apple ID account as well.

1. In the menu bar at the top of your Mac’s screen, click the AirPlay icon, which looks like a rectangle with an arrow at the bottom.

2. In the drop-down, choose the device you want to AirPlay to.

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In the AirPlay drop-down, select a device under “AirPlay To.”

3. A passcode might appear on your device’s screen. Enter it in the pop-up on your Mac.

4. Your Mac should then begin mirroring its screen to the device you selected.

5. To stop AirPlaying, click the AirPlay icon in the menu bar again and choose “Turn AirPlay off” in the drop-down.

Mac AirPlay icon drop-down in menu bar
Click “Turn AirPlay Off.”

From System Preferences:

1. Open System Preferences and click “Displays.”

Mac System Preferences window
Go to “Displays” in System Preferences.

2. On the Displays page, click the drop-down next to “AirPlay Display.”

System Preferences Displays page
Click the drop-down arrows next to “AirPlay Display.”

3. In the drop-down, select the device you want to AirPlay to.

System Preferences AirPlay drop-down
Select a device from the list.

4. A passcode may appear on your device’s screen. Enter it in the pop-up on your Mac.

5. Your Mac should then begin mirroring its screen to the device you selected.

6. To stop AirPlaying, click the drop-down next to “AirPlay Display” and select “Off.”

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Click “Off” in the drop-down to stop AirPlaying.

How to AirPlay content to your Apple TV and mirror your phone or computer to a TV screenHow to use AirPlay on a Roku player to stream content from an Apple deviceHow to mirror your iPhone screen to a Mac computer with QuickTime or AirPlayHow to mirror your iPhone’s screen onto a TV using a Chromecast or a Chromecast TV

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