The Complete Guide to Fixing AirPlay Not Showing

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Written by

Jason Lin
Jason Lin

Published on

All ArticlesApple TV
Airplay Not Showing

As an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience, I’ve helped countless users troubleshoot AirPlay issues on their iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs. When that familiar AirPlay icon vanishes from your device, it can put a serious damper on your wireless streaming experience.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through the most common reasons why AirPlay isn’t showing up, provide step-by-step troubleshooting instructions, and share expert tips to optimize streaming performance. Whether you’re mirroring your iPhone screen to an Apple TV or playing music to AirPlay speakers, these proven fixes will get that icon back in no time.

Why AirPlay Isn’t Showing Up

There are several potential culprits behind a missing AirPlay icon on iOS, MacOS, tvOS, and audioOS devices:

Outdated Software: Running old versions of iOS, MacOS, tvOS, or audioOS can cause compatibility issues and hide AirPlay. Software updates frequently include fixes.

Network Connectivity Issues: AirPlay requires devices to be on the same local WiFi network or Ethernet segment. Connectivity problems will prevent devices from seeing each other.

Disabled AirPlay Settings: The AirPlay toggle could be switched off in iOS Control Center or Mac System Preferences. Double check these settings.

Device Compatibility Problems: Extremely old iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, and AirPlay speakers may not support AirPlay or have limited functionality with newer hardware.

If you’re experiencing AirPlay issues with specific smart TV brands, check out our troubleshooting guides for Hisense, TCL, Samsung, LG, and Vizio TVs.

VPN/Proxy Interference: Virtual private networks and web proxies can disrupt local network traffic and block AirPlay discovery. Disable these if encountering issues.

Firewall Restrictions: Strict firewall rules on routers or devices may be blocking mDNS (multicast DNS) used by AirPlay devices to communicate. Check firewall settings.

Router Firmware Bugs: Outdated or buggy router firmware can hinder network performance and cause AirPlay drops. Look for firmware updates from router manufacturer.

Now that we’ve identified the most frequent causes, let’s dive into a methodical troubleshooting process to get that AirPlay icon back on your screen.

Step-by-Step Troubleshooting for Missing AirPlay Icon

Follow these steps in order, testing AirPlay in between each, to efficiently pinpoint and resolve the issue.

Update All Device Software and Firmware

Start by checking for and installing any pending software updates on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, or AirPlay receiver:

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  • iOS/iPadOS: Settings > General > Software Update
  • MacOS: System Preferences > Software Update
  • tvOS: Settings > System > Software Updates
  • Speakers: Check manufacturer’s app for firmware updates

Even minor point releases can include important bug fixes and AirPlay improvements, so stay up-to-date.

Check Network Connections and Settings

For AirPlay to function, devices must be connected to the same local network via WiFi or Ethernet. To troubleshoot WiFi:

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  • Ensure sending and receiving devices are connected to the correct WiFi network
  • Move devices closer to router to boost signal strength
  • Power off VPNs, proxies, firewalls temporarily to eliminate interference

Where possible, connect devices to router with Ethernet instead of WiFi to isolate wireless variables during testing.

Verify AirPlay Is Enabled

On iOS devices, swipe down from top right to open Control Center. Tap the Screen Mirroring or AirPlay icon and make sure a receiver is selected.

On Macs, open System Preferences > Displays and check “Show mirroring options in menu bar when available.” This enables the AirPlay menu bar icon.

For 3rd party AirPlay receivers like smart TVs, power cycle them off and on. Then recheck for available AirPlay sources under input settings.

For AirPlay issues on Amazon Fire TV devices, refer to our guide on setting up AirPlay on Firestick.

Reset Network Configurations on iOS

If you’re still not seeing AirPlay on an iPhone or iPad, reset its network settings:

  • Open Settings > General > Reset
  • Tap “Reset Network Settings
  • Enter device passcode if prompted
  • Tap again to confirm reset

This step erases all saved WiFi networks and passwords, so you’ll need to rejoin the network afterwards. In my experience, this resolves many strange AirPlay quirks.

Update Router Firmware to Latest Version

Visit your WiFi router manufacturer’s support site and search for the newest firmware release for your model. Updating the router’s operating system can patch AirPlay bugs.

Download and install firmware following the manufacturer’s instructions, which vary by brand and model. Always backup router config before updating.

Factory Reset Apple TV and Speakers

As a last resort for stubborn AirPlay issues with Apple TVs and compatible speakers, try a factory reset to wipe all settings:

  • Apple TV: Settings > System > Reset > “Reset”
  • Speakers: Consult product manual to enter recovery mode

Resetting returns the device to factory defaults. You’ll need to set it up again from scratch afterwards. This troubleshooting step has saved me many headaches with uncooperative AirPlay devices.

Contact Apple Support for Further Assistance

If the AirPlay icon still won’t appear after exhausting these troubleshooting steps, it’s time to enlist expert help from Apple Support.

Call, chat, or visit a store, detailing the devices involved, steps you’ve tried, and exact symptoms. Having worked behind the Genius Bar, I can vouch that Apple’s techs have additional diagnostic tools and repair processes to get your devices playing nicely again.

Tips to Boost AirPlay Speed and Performance

In addition to getting AirPlay working consistently, there are several ways to optimize streaming speed and quality:

Minimize Wireless Interference

Separate WiFi devices from potential interference sources like cordless phones, microwaves, baby monitors, and Bluetooth devices. Minimizing 2.4GHz wireless congestion improves AirPlay reliability.

Prioritize Bandwidth for Streaming Devices

In your router’s Quality of Service (QoS) settings, give AirPlay devices like the Apple TV high priority to dynamically allocate more bandwidth. Consult your router’s manual for specific steps.

Free Up System Resources

Before initiating AirPlay, close unnecessary apps and browser tabs on both the sending and receiving devices. This frees up processing power for smoother audio and video.

Use Wired Ethernet When Possible

Connecting one or both AirPlay endpoints to the router via Ethernet cable provides a faster and more stable link compared to WiFi.

Upgrade to High-Performance Router

Investing in a router that supports the latest protocols like 802.11ac and Wi-Fi 6 helps meet AirPlay’s bandwidth demands, especially in crowded networks.

Add WiFi Extenders for Better Coverage

Large homes can benefit from mesh WiFi extender nodes to increase network range and eliminate dead zones where AirPlay drops out.

Key Takeaways

  • Keep iOS, MacOS, tvOS and audioOS devices updated to latest versions for AirPlay fixes
  • Connect devices to the same WiFi or Ethernet network
  • Enable AirPlay in iOS Control Center and Mac menu bar
  • Reset network settings on iOS to flush any misconfigurations
  • Update router firmware to patch known AirPlay bugs
  • Factory reset Apple TV and speakers if still unresponsive
  • Contact Apple Support for further diagnostics and hardware service

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why does my AirPlay frequently disconnect?

A: Intermittent AirPlay drops are usually caused by network interference or low signal strength. Try relocating your router and connected devices to minimize disruptions.

Q: Is AirPlay available on Samsung Smart TVs?

A: Yes, some Samsung Smart TV models support AirPlay 2. Check your TV’s specs to confirm compatibility. The setup process is similar to Apple TV. For help with Samsung TV compatibility, see our comprehensive AirPlay troubleshooting guide.

Q: Does AirPlay require an internet connection?

A: An internet connection is technically only needed to initially authenticate devices. However, both devices must be on the same local WiFi network or LAN segment to establish the peer-to-peer AirPlay connection.

Q: Can I AirPlay from my Mac to an Apple TV?

A: Absolutely. Make sure AirPlay is enabled under System Preferences > Displays, then select your Apple TV as the output source on the menu bar.

Q: Why is AirPlay playback choppy, blurry, or delayed?

A: Low bandwidth, network congestion, and older hardware can all contribute to poor AirPlay performance. Follow the tips above to allocate more bandwidth and processing power to devices.

Q: How do I AirPlay from my iPhone to my Mac?

A: Open Control Center on your iPhone and tap Screen Mirroring. Choose your Mac as the destination, and your iPhone’s screen will be wirelessly mirrored.

Q: Will AirPlay work with my iPhone 6?

A: The iPhone 6 and later running at least iOS 12 all support AirPlay. Extremely old devices may experience compatibility quirks. For best results, keep your iOS updated.

Q: Can I stream DRM-protected iTunes content over AirPlay?

A: Yes, iTunes movies, TV shows, music, and music videos can be AirPlayed to an Apple TV or compatible smart TV. HDCP-encrypted content requires devices to first be authorized with your Apple ID.

Wrapping Up

AirPlay is an incredibly convenient way to share your Apple device’s screen or audio across rooms. But when that icon goes AWOL, it can really put a damper on your streaming plans.

As someone who’s spent years troubleshooting misbehaving AirPlay setups, I hope you’ve found this guide helpful. Systematically working through software updates, network settings, device resets, and router configs almost always uncovers the culprit.

When all else fails, remember that Apple’s own support team has seen it all and can help identify issues with your specific equipment.

Do you have another suggestion for fixing a missing AirPlay icon? Or maybe a horror story about getting AirPlay working again? Let me know in the comments!