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Apple's latest Macs come packed with features and tools that help users maximize their productivity. That's not to mention the tight ecosystem that ties these computers to customers' other Apple devices. A prominent example of this seamless interoperability is AirPlay support, which enables users to easily mirror media to larger displays.

What’s AirPlay?

AirPlay is Apple’s native media casting solution. Think Google Chromecast, but built into Apple devices, third-party speakers, and Smart TVs. By default, iPhone, iPad, and iPod users could cast their screens to an Apple TV — or any other AirPlay-equipped device.

As long as both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, the feature should work as expected. Users can share what they’re doing on their iDevices or cast a video they’re watching to the big screen. They could also AirPlay their audio-only stream, making it a very convenient utility for house parties.

AirPlay on a Mac

Pre-macOS Monterey, through third-party AirPlay Mac servers

For the longest time, there has been third-party apps that could turn your Mac into an AirPlay server. However, most — if not all — are paid software, making them an obstacle or a deal-breaker to a significant portion of users. Additionally, they require setting up once downloaded, and the steps aren’t as straightforward as an average user would expect them to be. That's not to mention that they sometimes break or lag behind.

The bottom line is they’re inconvenient to most people, even though they’re a valid option. So if you have an old Mac that doesn't support macOS Monterey or a later OS version, and you really need to turn your device into an AirPlay server, you can settle for this. Just type "turn Mac into AirPlay server" into your favorite search engine. You’ll find plenty of different apps for this particular purpose.

On macOS Monterey and later

MacBook Air M2 showing mirrored iPhone screen next to coffee mug on a table
iPhone screen mirrored to MacBook Air using Airplay.

A feature I and many others had been anticipating for a while finally got baked into macOS Monterey: AirPlay server support. If you’re already running this OS version or a newer one, such as macOS Sonoma, then follow the steps below to use it:

  1. Make sure your iDevice and Mac are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  2. Ensure both devices are signed in to the same Apple ID. Alternatively, go to System Settings > General > AirDrop & Handoff and pick Anyone on the Same Network or Everyone on your Mac.
    Allow airplay for current user, anyone on the same network, or everyone in airdrop & handoff settings on macOS
  3. Open the Control Center on your iDevice.
  4. Click on Screen Mirroring. Your Mac should show up as an available device to cast to.
  5. Click on your Mac’s name and your iDevice’s screen will automatically start casting there. If it’s a screen share or a video playback, your iDevice’s screen will take over your Mac’s. If it’s an audio-only stream, your Mac will turn into a wireless speaker for your iDevice, without taking over your screen.
  6. Once you’re done, return to Screen Mirroring in Control Center and click on Stop Mirroring. Alternatively, you can click on the (x) button in the top left corner of your Mac.

So now whether you want to turn your Mac into a wireless speaker or a screen for your iDevice, you’re only a few clicks away. Cast from your favorite TV app, stream endless hours of music, or watch Apple Fitness+ videos on the bigger screen. This spares many casual Mac users the need to invest in a separate AirPlay-enabled TV for their occasional mirroring needs.