Thanks to AirPlay, you can wirelessly extend or mirror your Mac’s screen to an external display such as an Apple TV, certain smart TVs, or other devices running AirPlay receiver software. Here’s how to use it.

What Is AirPlay?

AirPlay is Apple’s name for the company’s proprietary wireless media streaming protocol. AirPlay lets Apple devices such as Macs, iPhones, and iPads stream audio and video over a local network to an AirPlay-compatible receiver device without the need for audio or video cables. It’s similar to how Miracast and Chromecast work on Windows and Android devices.

One of the most useful features of AirPlay is that you can use it to share (project) your Mac’s screen onto another display device. That’s what we’re going to explore in this article.

RELATED: Wireless Display Standards Explained: AirPlay, Miracast, WiDi, Chromecast, and DLNA

You’ll Need an AirPlay-Compatible Receiving Device

Before we begin, we’re going to assume that you already have at least one AirPlay-compatible receiver device connected to the same local network as your Mac. Compatible devices include Apple TV, certain brands of smart TV sets, and other devices running AirPlay receiver software.

RELATED: AirPlay Is Coming to Smart TVs. Here's How It Works

Share Your Screen on macOS 11 Big Sur and Later

To share your screen using AirPlay on a Mac running macOS 11 Big Sur or later, first, click the Control Center icon located in the upper-right corner of your screen (in the menu bar). It looks like two tiny toggle switches.

When Control Center appears, click “Screen Mirroring.”

In macOS Control Center, click "Screen Sharing."

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Next, you’ll see a list of AirPlay-compatible devices that your Mac has discovered on your network. Click one of them to begin mirroring.

(It’s worth noting that you will see different AirPlay receiver names than those listed in our example. We’re using an Amazon Fire TV running third-party AirPlay receiver software.)

Select the device you'd like to share your screen with.

While you’re connected and actively sharing your screen, the Screen Mirroring icon in the menu bar will turn blue (It looks like one rectangle overlapping another.).

At any time, click the Screen Mirroring icon to view the status of the connection or to switch from mirroring to “Use As Separate Display” mode, which will treat the AirPlay display as if it were a second monitor hooked to your Mac.

To disconnect and stop sharing your screen, click the Screen Mirroring icon (or click “Screen Mirroring” in Control Center) and click the receiving device name whose icon is highlighted in blue.

To disconnect, click the highlit item in the Screen Sharing menu.

After that, you’ll stop screen-sharing. You can also control screen-sharing in System Preferences using the Displays > AirPlay Display menu.

RELATED: How the New Control Center in macOS Big Sur Works

Share Your Screen on macOS 10.15 Catalina and Earlier

If you want to mirror your Mac’s screen with an AirPlay-compatible device (such as an Apple TV) and you’re running macOS 10.15 Catalina or earlier, you’ll need to do things slightly differently than you would with macOS 11.

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First, look for the AirPlay icon (which looks like a rectangle with a small triangle over it) in the menu bar at the top of your screen.

If you don’t see the AirPlay icon in your menu bar, navigate to System Preferences > Displays and place a check mark beside “Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available.”

In System Preferences, click Display, then check "Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available."

Next, close System Preferences and click the AirPlay icon in your menu bar. Select the device that you’d like to screen-share with from the menu that appears.

Tip: If the device that you want to project to isn’t listed, make sure that both your Mac and the receiving device are connected to the same Wi-Fi access point or local area network.

Once you’re connected, the AirPlay icon in your menu bar will turn blue. Click the AirPlay icon to check the status of the AirPlay connection. You can also change the screen-sharing mode from mirroring to “Use As Separate Display,” which will use the AirPlay display like a second monitor.

To disconnect, select “Stop AirPlay.”

Whenever you need to mirror your display again, AirPlay will be only a click away in your menu bar. Have fun!

RELATED: How to Mirror your Mac, iPhone, or iPad Screen on Your Apple TV

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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