Tutorial: How to share music, video and photos around your home with AirPlay

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AirPlay began life as AirTunes and was originally limited to streaming audio from iTunes on a Mac or PC to Apple’s AirPort Express – a Wi-Fi basestation that’s audio adapters for attaching to a stereo system.

Later, it was added as an option in the iOS Remote app, allowing you to manage the music you played over AirTunes from an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

In late 2010, AirTunes ended up being AirPlay and included the capability to stream pictures, video and metadata. More excitingly, however, Apple likewise announced that it had actually accredited AirPlay to third parties, so that they could produce AirPlay speaker systems.

There are a number of means that you can utilize AirPlay. You can stream music from iTunes on a Mac to an Apple TV, Flight terminal Express or third-party system. Or you can play music from the Music app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to the very same devices. Some third-party apps likewise support streaming audio and/or video utilizing AirPlay.

Apple’s proprietary innovation can even be utilized as a way of streaming music from your Mac wirelessly to different rooms around your house. Then there’s mirroring, which allows you to send the audio and video output of an iOS gadget or Mac running Mountain Lion to an Apple TV.

AirPlay mirroring can be used for a whole array of activities, from playing Keynote presentations on a large-screen TELEVISION, to sharing creations in iMovie, as well as as a method of playing, say, a YouTube guitar tutorial or culinary videos on a tv instead of a smaller sized display.

One of our favored usages, nevertheless, is for video gaming. Developers have been quick to discover the possibilities of AirPlay mirroring in video games, most commonly permitting you to use your iPhone or iPad as a controller while displaying the game itself on TV. AirPlay is both simple to use and versatile.

From iTunes on a Mac, or the Remote app in iOS, you can send tracks from your Mac’s music library to numerous AirPlay speakers around the house. There’s far more to AirPlay than satisfies the eye, and this post we will tell you all you need to know to obtain even more from it. We will also inform you which AirPlay speaker systems work best in different areas and why they are worth your cash.

How to set up an AirPlay device

Setting up an AirPlay gadget can be performed in a number of methods, relying on which device you are using. Some have a dedicated iOS app to deal with the heavy lifting, others use Wi-Fi sharing, some have on-board LCDs and menu systems, and one or two require you to link straight to your Mac utilizing a USB cable, or a router using an Ethernet cable, in order to configure them.

The simplest gadget to set up is an Apple TELEVISION. Connect it to your TV with an HDMI cable, then follow the on-screen instructions to include it to your Wi-Fi network. The trickiest little bit made use of to be entering your Wi-Fi password using the remote control, however Apple TELEVISION now supports Bluetooth keyboards, so even that bit’s easy.

Once it’s linked, your Mac and iOS gadgets find it instantly and it’s available in the AirPlay menu in apps that support it, in addition to the multitasking bar in iOS.

Network creators

Airplay tunes

Setting up a device that supports Wi-Fi Sharing is just a matter of connecting a device running iOS 5 or 6 and possibly pressing a button on the speaker. It’ll then harvest the details of the network to which your device is connected and include itself, as soon as you have provided it permission.

Some devices – the Libratone Zipp, for example – need that you join their own network from an iOS device or Mac then browse in a web browser to their configuration page where you define your own Wi-Fi network.

The other thing to think about, once you’ve actually included an AirPlay speaker to your network, is where you are going to position it. Speakers vary widely in their capability to forecast a wide soundstage, which will identify the degree to which they play in full stereo.

Some devices, such as the Audyssey Audio Dock Air, are best-placed in a corner so that they can utilize the walls to reflect sound back into the room. Others, such as Bose’s SoundLink Air, are best-placed centrally, allowing the speaker vehicle drivers on either side of the system to fire outwards.

It’s vital that you do not lose your Wi-Fi connection while hearing music. See to it that the area you choose for the AirPlay device has a strong Wi-Fi signal. If it does not, consider making use of a Wi-Fi bridge to extend the network, or set up a brand-new network with a various base station. You can connect the new base station to your modem router utilizing a PowerLine adapter if you want to have net access on the new Wi-Fi network.

Dropped signals

AirPlay iPad

Some people suggest having your AirPlay device in the exact same room as your router and seeing to it absolutely nothing else is linked to the network. For most of us, however, that’s not feasible. If you discover that you are having issues with a signal dropping, or with AirPlay performance – specifically mirroring video – being bad, you could try switching your router to a large channel, if it supports it.

The 40MHz frequency, known as a broad channel, typically offers faster speeds than 20MHz, so could assist eliminate problems. If your router is currently changed to 40MHz, the problem might be congestion.

If there are great deals of other cordless networks running on 40MHz in your location, that’ll decrease traffic on your network. Attempt changing to the slower, however most likely less-crowded, 20MHz channel. You can find out more about wireless channels below.

Changing the cordless channel normally involves a trip to your router’s internet setup page, so check the manual that included your router or see the aid text on the manufacturer’s homepage.

Multi-room music

AirPlay select output

Perhaps you live in a house with other people. If so, the chances are that you will not all be in the very same room at the exact same time. Happily, there are a number of methods you can send audio to AirPlay speakers in different rooms.

The most basic method to do this is from iTunes on a Mac: click on the AirPlay menu at the top of iTunes primary window or in the Mini Gamer and select Multiple.

You can now choose which AirPlay gadgets you want to send audio to, and adjust the volume for each separately. This method can also be made use of to supply stereo from 2 separate AirPlay speakers, where the speaker manufacturer supports it. AQ Audio’s SmartSpeaker works in by doing this, for instance.

You can do the same thing from the Remote app in iOS. Open the app, pick the Library you want to link to, then tap the AirPlay icon at the bottom of the screen. You’ll be revealed a list of the AirPlay gadgets on the network and can pick which to play audio to and adjust the volume for each. Neither of these alternatives allows you to play different output to various spaces, however.

The simplest technique for doing that’s to utilize different iOS devices. That means you can play tracks from the Music app, or other AirPlay-supporting app, to the AirPlay speaker in whichever space you happen to be in. You don’t have to have actually music saved on the gadget, iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match permit you to play music kept on Apple’s servers to an AirPlay device, or you can use the Remote app to play music from one Mac by means of different iOS gadgets to various AirPlay speakers.

Storage issues

The other issue in a multi-person, multi-device home is where to store your music. The majority of us have digital audio files spread throughout a few various Macs, disk drives and iOS devices. Far much better to have a central repository for everything from which you can then stream to multiple outputs.

Networked attached storage drives (NAS) permit you to do simply that. These economical servers can keep and play music over a wired and/or wireless network. To set it up, copy your music to the NAS and point iTunes on your Mac to the NAS folder in the Advanced section of iTunes preferences. That’ll build a Library in your Mac’s Music folder, while allowing the music to stay on the NAS box. You can then develop playlists as you’d normally.

Then, in the Music app on an iPhone or iPad, choose Even more and Shared, and tap the name of your Mac’s music library. You’ll now have access to all the music and playlists on your Mac from your iOS gadget. To play music to an AirPlay device, just tap the AirPlay icon in the Now Playing window in the Music app.

One problem right here is that you should’ve a Mac on and running. You can stay clear of that problem by using an app provided by the manufacturer of your NAS box, if it’s one. Synology’s app, as an example, allows you to play music on your iOS gadget directly from one of its DiskStations and send the output to an AirPlay speaker.

Synology’s most current DiskStation software, 4.2 beta, likewise allows you to stream video straight from a NAS to Apple TV while utilizing an iOS gadget to control it. Both alternatives enable you to play different tunes to different AirPlay devices, however you’ll need one iOS device per AirPlay speaker.

AiPlay alternatives


Seedio is an iOS app that enables you to stream music from your device’s Music library or from YouTube to other iOS devices on the very same network. It doesn’t use AirPlay, but because you can dock your iOS devices in dumb speaker docks, it’s possibly more affordable than purchasing AirPlay speakers.

The ‘seeding’ app is ₤ 1.99, however the receiving apps are complimentary, and by attaching the getting device to a speaker dock, you can your home with music. Each receiving device can pick whether to accept and play a seed, however the streaming device can just seed one track at a time, so you can not have various songs in different rooms.

There are a few limitations. Music must be in MP3 or unguarded AAC format and can only be sourced from the host device’s library or YouTube. In-app purchases permit you to seed music from other sources. On the plus side, you can seed to as lots of gadgets as you desire. If you ‘d rather play other audio from your Mac to an iOS device, you can do that using Airfoil ($25) and the complimentary Airfoil Speakers Touch app.

Airfoil can stream any audio playing on your Mac including Spotify and Last. fm to an iOS device running AirFoil Speakers Touch. And it now works in reverse, too.

AirPlay from your Mac


There are a few various choices for streaming audio from a Mac to an AirPlay gadget. The simplest is to utilize iTunes. Any audio playing from iTunes, whether it’s music, an audio book, podcast, or the audio from a film or TELEVISION program, can be fed to an AirPlay speaker from iTunes’ AirPlay menu.

That menu is just to the right of the volume slider in iTunes 11 and in the same space in iTunes 11’s Mini Player – though it’s not noticeable in the Mini Player until you float over the status bar. Click the AirPlay icon and you’ll disclose a list of output locations.

First is your Mac, followed by each of the AirPlay devices on your local network. To send out audio to simply one AirPlay gadget, click it. iTunes takes a couple of seconds to discover the device and send audio to it, so you’ll observe a bit of a delay as soon as you struck play. If you want to send out the very same audio to even more than one gadget, click Multiple at the top of the window and select the gadgets you want. You can now adjust the volume for each device individually.

If you want to send out all the audio from your Mac to an AirPlay device and you are running Mountain Lion, you’ve 2 choices. The very first is to take a trip to System Preferences and click the Output tab of the Sound pane. Now select the AirPlay device you desire from the list. A quicker course is to Option-click on the volume control in the menu bar and pick the AirPlay speaker from the drop-down menu.

Mirroring options

Mountain Lion presented another brand-new AirPlay function to OS X for more recent Macs: mirroring. In the same means you can mirror the output of an iPhone or iPad on an Apple TV, your Mac’s audio and video can be sent to your TELEVISION using an Apple TELEVISION. When you link a compatible Mac running 10.8 to a network that likewise has an Apple TV on it, an AirPlay menu product appears in OS X’s menu bar. Click it then choose the Apple TV on which you want to mirror your Mac.

If you select Match Desktop Size To Apple TELEVISION, it’ll scale the output of your Mac to fit your TV display. If you desire a sharper image, set the resolution of your Mac to as near to that of your TELEVISION as possible. You do this in the Displays pane of System Preferences, by picking a choice that just appears when you mirror to an Apple TELEVISION.

Presentations and more

Mirroring to Apple TV from your Mac has various possible uses. Among the most popular is for displaying discussions on a huge TELEVISION display. Lots of conference rooms have large-screen HDTVs, so by packing an Apple TV alongside your Keynote-equipped MacBook Pro, you get rid of that perennial fear of having the correct adaptor for whichever projector the client happens to have – though this does add the problem of joining their Wi-Fi network!

To mirror a Mac to an Apple TV over AirPlay, you’ll need a Mac made in 2011 or later on running Mountain Lion. If your Mac was made earlier than that, or you are not using Mountain Lion, Air Parrot (airparrot.com) may allow you to do the very same thing.

Set up a speaker

Different gadgets make use of various techniques, but let us take a look at the essentials …

1. Read the manual

Check the manual for your AirPlay device to discover which set-up approaches it supports prior to you begin. From that you can decide whether to use a Mac or iOS device. Whichever technique you make use of, the first step is typically to turn the gadget on.

2. Network shenanigans

You then need to add it to your network. If your speaker can review your Wi-Fi password from your iOS gadget, dock it, press the buttons indicated in the handbook if required, and, when your iOS gadget has informed you, just tap Accept.

3. Enter an IP

Some AirPlay speakers will require you to link to their own Wi-Fi network to configure them. Click the AirPort menu on your Mac – or look in iOS’s Settings app – link to the network temporarily, then get in an IP address (see the handbook) into Safari. Once configured, connect to your typical network once again.

4. ‘Appy days

Another typical method is to make use of an iOS app. Some speakers trigger you to download it when you plug your gadget in, but you may need to by hand browse the App Establishment.