How to mirror your Mac to Apple TV using AirPlay

The crowded field of media streamers got even more crowded with the addition of the Amazon Fire TV. While there are a number of good options for streaming media, the Apple TV remains the one that works incredibly well within the Apple ecosystem. One of the many cool things you can do is to mirror the the display on your Mac to Apple TV, letting you wirelessly connect and use your HDTV as a display. While it’s not practical for everyday use, there are certainly instances where this can be a useful feature. The Apple TV can serve as full-proof accessory when you need to make a big presentation. And when I say big, I mean 60-inch HDTV big. Here’s how to mirror your Mac to Apple TV using AirPlay.

mirror Mac to Apple TV

What’s You’ll Need

This works with any Mac that was built in 2011 or later, except for the Mac Pro. You’ll need one of the newer 2013 models. Both the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV devices are up to the task, provided they are running software update 5.0 or later.

Requirements

Both your Mac and your Apple TV will need to be connected to the same network. It doesn’t matter if that’s a wireless or hard wired ethernet connection. Either will do the trick.

Mirror Mac to Apple TV using AirPlay

On your Mac, look at the top right of your menu bar. You should see the AirPlay icon, which is an arrow on top of a box. When it’s not active, it’s completely black. Once we start mirroring, it will change to blue.

AirPlay ATV option

If for some reason you do not see the AirPlay display, it could be that menu bar item has bee disabled. Navigate to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Displays as shown below. Check the box next to ‘Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available.

Enable AirPlay menu

Now back to the AirPlay menu. Your Apple TV should show up as AirPlay in black text, with Connect Apple TV to AirPlay grayed out. Select Apple TV and in a matter of seconds, you should see a mirror of your display on your HDTV. Mirroring essentially means that it’s a duplicate of what you see on your desktop. That can be your Apple Cinema display or your MacBook display. Note: Clamshell mode is not compatible with AirPlay.

Enable Mirroring to Apple TV

Some Great Uses For Mirroring Your Mac to Apple TV

  • Media streaming any and all content from the web. Maybe your favorite video isn’t available through an app or one of the many Apple TV channels. Using AirPlay, you can solve that problem.
  • Presentations using Keynote, Microsoft PowerPoint or another app used to require costly connection kits that could be problematic. It also meant you were tethered to the TV, which isn’t always ideal for presentations.
  • Showcasing photos from iPhoto on a family member’s Apple TV.
  • Nothing more than enjoying a 60-inch computer monitor

When considering the benefits of the Apple TV as compared to the competition, there is no denying its utility within Apple’s ecosystem. This extends beyond iTunes media to features like AirPlay, which makes it fast and easy to mirror your Mac to your Apple TV.

What’s on your Mac that you are looking to bring to the big screen?