How to Use Airplay From a MacBook

By David Weedmark

You can stream audio and video on any MacBook using iTunes and AirPlay. To see video, you need an Apple TV connected to your HDTV. The Apple TV, AirPort Express and any AirPlay-enabled speakers can also be used for audio streaming. If you have a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air made in mid-2011 or later, you can also mirror your desktop display to an Apple TV without using iTunes. Older models don't support desktop mirroring, regardless of what software is installed.

Mirroring a MacBook Display on an Apple TV

Step 1

Turn on your Apple TV and your HDTV. Ensure that your MacBook and the Apple TV are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Step 2

Click the "AirPlay" symbol in the menu bar at the top of the MacBook's screen. The symbol is rectangular with an arrow in the center. A drop-down menu opens.

Step 3

Click "Apple TV" in the drop-down menu. The MacBook's screen is mirrored to the TV.

Step 4

Click the "Match Desktop Size To: Apple TV" option in the drop-down menu to have the MacBook's display change to the 16:9 aspect ratio optimized for an HDTV. Select "Match Desktop Size To: This Mac" to have the display optimized for the MacBook's screen and not the HDTV's.

Streaming iTunes With AirPlay

Step 1

Turn on your Apple TV, AirPort Express or AirPlay-enabled speakers.

Step 2

Launch iTunes on your MacBook. If you are prompted to update iTunes, do so now and then relaunch iTunes. Click the "AirPlay" button in the bottom right corner of the iTunes window. A drop-down menu opens.

Step 3

Select your AirPlay device from the drop-down menu. The music on iTunes is streamed to the AirPlay device. If you select an Apple TV from the drop-down menu and iTunes is playing a video, the video is also streamed to the Apple TV as well as the audio.

Tips & Warnings

  • To mirror the MacBook's display to an Apple TV, you can also launch "System Preferences" from the Apple menu, select "Display" and then select "Apple TV" from the "AirPlay Mirroring" drop-down menu.
  • Information in this article applies to MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models Mid 2011 or newer running OS X Mountain Lion, as well as iTunes 10.2 or later. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.