Apple TV 4: Using AirPlay

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Turn off Play Purchases from iCloud

iCloud refers to content stored on Apple’s servers. There is an Apple TV feature that will play content from iCloud instead of beaming it from your iOS device or computer. This only works for iTunes purchases. I recommend turning this feature off. It will actually end up consuming more network bandwidth. For example, if you have an album downloaded on your iPhone and play it via AirPlay, this feature will stream it from iCloud instead. This means it will have to download the same data again over the Internet instead of streaming it through your iPhone. Not only is this wasteful, but if Apple’s servers or your Internet service provider are having problems, you will not experience smooth playback. This feature doesn’t even make sense. You can play iTunes purchases directly on Apple TV. All of your iTunes albums, movies, TV shows and content are already accessible on Apple TV.

You can turn off Play Purchases from iCloud by going to Settings > AirPlay > Play Purchases from iCloud. I highly recommend turning this feature off, as it will just cause problems. If your ISP is having problems and your last resort is playing an album or movie stored on your iPhone, this feature will just fail miserably and you may forget it even exists.

Using AirPlay with a Late Model Mac

Mac OS X and iOS are slowly converging. Many of the features found on your iPhone are gradually being integrated into the Mac. AirPlay was added to the Mac about a year after its debut on iOS. The feature only works with newer Macs, as it relies on system-on-a-chip embedded technology to work. AirPlay is supported on the following Macs: iMac (Mid 2011 or later), Mac mini (Mid 2011 or later), Mac Pro (Late 2013 or later), MacBook (Early 2015 or later), MacBook Air (Mid 2011 or later) and MacBook Pro (Early 2011 or later). You also need to be running OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) or later.

If you have an older Mac or Windows PC, you can still use AirPlay. iTunes offers AirPlay support on most Mac and Windows computers. We’ll also take a look at third-party AirPlay tools later in this article.

AirPlay for the Mac only works directly within a few apps, such as iTunes, QuickTime and Safari. This isn’t much of a limitation, as you can use AirPlay Mirroring to display your Mac’s entire screen on Apple TV. You can even use Apple TV as an extra display for your Mac.

Using AirPlay within iTunes, Safari or QuickTime on your Mac is just as easy as on your iPhone. Simply tap the AirPlay icon and select the target device from the list. The video is displayed in full screen mode on your Apple TV, regardless of its size on the Mac. If you are playing music, the album cover and track information are displayed on Apple TV. Not every video can be played using AirPlay. If the AirPlay icon is displayed, the video can be beamed to your Apple TV.

AirPlay Mirroring is much more useful on a Mac. Mirroring allows you to display full screen videos and even extend your desktop. Launch AirPlay mirroring by clicking on the AirPlay icon on the top right menu bar. A small menu will appear. Select Apple TV and your desktop will be beamed onto your television. You can play any video from any source and put it in full screen mode. This is a great way to watch content from Hulu and major networks without a subscription!

If you choose to extend the desktop, the main desktop will be displayed on your Mac and a secondary desktop is beamed onto Apple TV. You can even use Apple TV as a third desktop, if you already have a multiple monitor configuration.

Apple TV offers an Underscan feature to compensate for differences between TV and monitor screen ratios. This Apple TV setting defaults to Auto, but can be turned on or off manually from the Settings > AirPlay screen. Turn Underscan on if the image on your Apple TV is cropped. If you see black bars on Apple TV, turn Underscan off.

Using AirPlay with a Windows PC or Older Mac

Apple’s full AirPlay implementation is limited to newer Macs, but iTunes provides AirPlay functionality for all Macs and Windows PCs. Any video or music track can be beamed onto your Apple TV from iTunes. Simply tap on the AirPlay icon and select Apple TV from the list of devices. This is also a great way to play music over AirPlay speakers. If you own a large home, you can play perfectly synchronized music in multiple rooms using AirPlay. Simply activate AirPlay on multiple targets. You can also convert and import videos into iTunes and play them on Apple TV using AirPlay. You can import any mp4 video into iTunes. This is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but it’s not difficult to accomplish. (continue…)

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