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How to use AirPlay to stream videos to your TV

Stream a video straight from your iPhone to your TV

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you want to cast a video from your iPhone to your TV, or if you want to watch YouTube on a larger screen, AirPlay, Apple’s casting feature, will help you do that. AirPlay allows you to wirelessly cast audio or video from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to an Apple TV or an AirPlay 2-compatible smart TV, as long as your device is connected to the same Wi-Fi as the TV.

You can stream videos from any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. You can even stream video from a Windows PC, but only through iTunes. Just make sure your device’s operating system is relatively recent (a list of the various OS requirements can be found here).

With the latest version, AirPlay 2, you can also stream audio to multiple rooms, decide which room to play it in, and pair speakers. Here’s how to stream audio using AirPlay.

Here’s how to use AirPlay to cast videos from your iPhone, your Mac, and your Windows PC.

Use AirPlay on your iPhone

These instructions are specifically for an iPhone, but the steps are similar for an iPad or an iPod touch. The biggest differences in the procedure depend on what app you’re playing video from. You’ll have to follow one of two sets of steps:

  • If you see an AirPlay button — which looks like a rectangle with an arrow pointing up at the bottom — when you open up the app or a video in the app, tap on that to use AirPlay. For example, in the YouTube app for iPad, there will be an AirPlay button in the bottom right corner of the video.
  • If you don’t see an AirPlay button, then you’ll need to select the app’s option for casting, sharing, or playing content on a different device, and then tap the AirPlay option. For example, in the YouTube app for iPhone, you would tap the cast button at the top of the screen (it looks like a rectangle with a Wi-Fi symbol coming out of the bottom left corner) and then tap “AirPlay & Bluetooth devices.” In Photos, tap the share button (which looks like a square with an arrow coming out of the top). Then, scroll down and tap AirPlay.
YouTube will display a pop-up list of casting options, including AirPlay.
Screenshot: YouTube
Select “AirPlay” from the sharing options in the Photos app.
Screenshot: Photos
  • For either type of app, tap the device you want to use AirPlay with.
Select which device to use AirPlay with from this screen.
Screenshot: iPhone
The Photos app will list the devices you can use AirPlay with at the bottom of the screen.
Screenshot: Photos
  • Your TV may display a code. Enter that in the box on your phone’s screen and tap OK.
  • Now you’re casting your video to your TV via AirPlay.
You may be prompted to enter the code from your TV into this box.
Screenshot: iPhone
This is what your iPhone screen will look like when casting to a TV with AirPlay.
Screenshot: Photos
  • To stop casting, open up the AirPlay window in the same way you accessed it above (again, this will differ depending on the app) and tap “iPhone” on the list of devices. This will return your feed from the TV back to your iPhone. In Photos, you’ll have to tap the AirPlay icon in the top right corner and then “My Device.”

Use Airplay on your Mac

  • Open up the video you’d like to cast to your TV.
  • Click on the AirPlay button. Often (but not always) you’ll find it in the bottom right corner of the video. (We found that it was best to access YouTube through Safari rather than Chrome.)
  • Select the device you’d like to cast your video to from the drop-down options.
In YouTube, the devices you can use AirPlay with will be listed in the bottom right-hand corner, near the AirPlay button.
Screenshot: YouTube
  • Your Mac may ask you for the code displayed on your TV. Enter it into the pop-up window.
  • When you want to stop casting, click on the same AirPlay button you clicked on earlier to start AirPlay. Then click “Turn off AirPlay” from the drop-down menu.
This is what you’ll see on your Mac screen after sending a video from QuickTime Player to a TV via AirPlay.
Screenshot: QuickTime Player

Using AirPlay on your PC

You can use AirPlay on your Windows PC, but only for content on iTunes. To do that:

  • Open iTunes and start playing a video.
  • Click on the AirPlay button in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
  • Select the device from which you want to watch.
  • You may be prompted to enter a code. If so, enter the code on your TV into the pop-up window on your PC.
  • You should now be watching your video on your TV.
In iTunes, the devices you can use AirPlay with will appear in the lower left-hand corner.
Screenshot: iTunes
  • To stop AirPlay, click on the AirPlay button again and then select “My Computer.”

There is another way to cast video to your TV: by using screen mirroring to cast your entire screen to your TV. We’ll walk through those steps in an upcoming article.