Stream Any Video from a Mac to an Apple TV

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One of the most interesting features of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is AirPlay Mirroring. You can stream what is displayed on your Mac to an Apple TV (and, presumably, other devices will support this in the future). This is very useful if you want to watch videos in formats that iTunes doesn’t support, such as MKVs. The process is quite simple. Here’s how it works:

  1. From the AirPlay Mirroring icon in the menu bar, choose your Apple TV. This icon displays if you’ve checked the appropriate option in the Display pane of System Preferences.

  2. Start playing the video you want to watch on your Mac. This could be video on a web site – even Flash video – or files played with a video player such as VLC.
  3. Sit down in front of your TV and start watching.

At this point, you can sit back and watch your video. The only thing to be aware of is that if you want to pause the video, you need to do so on the Mac; the Apple TV remote won’t do this. If you have another remote, you can pair it to your Mac, so if you plan to use this feature often you can easily pause and restart videos.

I’ve found this to be quite useful. Every day at lunch, I watch the previous day’s episode of the Daily Show from their web site. I used to watch it on my laptop, but now I can pipe it into my TV, which is much more comfortable.

So if you have videos you’d like to watch on your TV, and you have an Apple TV, AirPlay Mirroring will let you watch any video that you can play on your Mac.

Note: AirPlay mirroring works with the following Macs:

iMac (Mid 2011 or newer)
Mac mini (Mid 2011 or newer)
MacBook Air (Mid 2011 or newer)
MacBook Pro (Early 2011 or newer)

10 replies
  1. Joe Nash says:

    That’s quite a nice hidden bonus, I’d not thought about that. However, I’m assuming that the video is compressed again, a-la VNC? As opposed to straight AirPlay streaming which I guess just streams the video data and is decompressed at the ATV.

    But I’m guessing unless you’re watching a movie in HD, you’re not going to notice…

  2. Pete says:

    It’s important to mention that just having Mountain Lion is not enough to enable AirPlay from the notebook. Only newer MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros with certain video chipsets can shoot video to Apple TV. There is an app that’ll do it from older notebooks, but the name escapes me.


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