Need to stream video from your Mac? Use this guide to figure out what it takes
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The Apple TV is great on its own, but it's even better when it is paired with a Mac or iOS device that can stream video via AirPlay. That opens up a new world of possibilities, to stream content available on the Mac that isn't already available for Apple TV. Is your Mac ready to stream video to the Apple TV? Use this guide to figure it out. And if your Mac doesn't make the cut, don't give up hope — you still may be able to see your Mac's video on your TV. Read on for details.
What you'll need
- A second or third-generation Apple TV.
- A Mac capable of streaming AirPlay video to the Apple TV.
- OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or later.
- A Wi-Fi network
The following Mac models are capable of streaming video to the Apple TV via AirPlay:
- iMac (Mid 2011 or newer)
- Mac mini (Mid 2011 or newer)
- MacBook Air (Mid 2011 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Early 2011 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
The easiest way to figure out if your Mac can use Apple TV is if you see an AirPlay menu appear on your Mac's menu bar. It looks like this:
The menu options are pretty self explanatory — you can mirror your Mac's display on your television using Mountain Lion; if you have Mavericks (10.9) installed you can also extend your Mac's desktop, using the TV as a second external display.
If the AirPlay menu is not visible, chances are your Mac is either too old or not running a new enough version of OS X. Check your specs and, if possible, upgrade. Remember that Mavericks is a free upgrade for anyone running a capable Mac and OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or higher.
Let's assume for the moment that your Mac simply can't stream video to your Apple TV. What then? Well, you still might be able to hook it up to the TV, though it'll probably require a direct physical connection. What kind of connection depends entirely on the age of your Mac.
From 2008 on Apple included an interface called Mini DisplayPort that looks identical to Thunderbolt. Apple and other companies make Mini DisplayPort to video adapters that will enable you to connect your Mac to an HDTV using an HDMI cable, the same interface the Apple TV uses to connect to the Mac.
Bear in mind that the first batch of Mini DisplayPort Macs that shipped in 2009 do not supply audio over mDP. Those Macs include:
- iMac (Early 2009) and (Mid 2009)
- Mac Mini (Early 2009) and (Late 2009)
- Mac Pro (Early 2009)
- MacBook (Late 2009)
- MacBook (13-inch Aluminum Late 2008)
- MacBook Pro (late 2008), (Mid 2009), and (Early 2009)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008) and (Mid 2009)
When you attach the Mac to the TV using a Mini DisplayPort cable, the Mac senses the TV as an external display and acts the same way.
Hopefully this will get you going to help get video from your Mac to your TV, either using Apple TV or another method. This is a lot of information to take in, so if you have any questions at all, leave them in the comments.
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Check that your device is compatible
Make sure that your smart TV or streaming device is compatible with the Apple TV app.1,2
Nov 15, 2019 Choose Apple menu About This Mac, then click the System Report button. Select Legacy Software in the sidebar. All legacy software is 32-bit. If you don't see Legacy Software in the sidebar, select Applications in the sidebar, then check the list of apps on the right. The column labeled ”64-Bit (Intel)” shows ”No” for apps that are 32-bit. Mac’s Rants & Raves Episode #295. There has been some confusion about the status of 32-bit apps in macOS 10.14 Mojave, which will be available soon (for free). Oct 11, 2019 How to Run 32-Bit Apps in macOS Catalina. Apple's latest version of macOS, Catalina, officially ditches 32-bit app support, but you can still run the software you need by following these steps. That second part, however, left enough wiggle room for 32-bit to remain in the store, such as the May 22 update to Amazon's Kindle. Outside the Mac App Store, anything goes: Developers can.
How to get the Apple TV app
- On your compatible smart TV or streaming device, go to your device's app store and download the Apple TV app.
- Open the Apple TV app and choose Start Watching.
- Go to Settings, then select Accounts.
- Choose Sign In. If you don't have an Apple ID, you need to create one. Then, use one of these options to sign in with your Apple ID and complete setup:
- Sign In On Mobile Device: Use your phone's camera to scan the QR code on the TV screen. Then follow the instructions on your mobile device.
- Sign In On This TV: Use your TV remote to manually sign in with your Apple ID and complete setup.
What you can do with the Apple TV app
Rent or buy content and watch your favorite movies and TV shows. You can also subscribe to premium channels in the Apple TV app and more.3
Watch Apple TV+ Original TV shows and movies
When you subscribe to Apple TV+, you can watch Apple Original TV shows and movies and other exclusive content on all of your devices.
Stream Mac To Apple Tv
Sign out of the Apple TV app on a smart TV or streaming device
- Open the Apple TV app.
- Go to Settings.
- Select Accounts, then choose Sign Out.
Reset the Apple TV app to its original settings
This will sign you out of your account on that device and remove your personal information. If you're also signed in to the Apple Music app on your smart TV or streaming device, the Apple Music app will also be reset to its original settings and all of your personal information will be removed.
- On your smart TV or streaming device, open the Apple TV app or Apple Music app.
- Go to Settings.
- Choose Reset Apple TV app and Apple Music, then confirm your choice.
Sign out of a smart TV or streaming device that you can't access
If you're signed in to the Apple TV app on a smart TV or streaming device that you can't access, you can remove the device from your account list.
If you need help
- For more information about the Apple TV app on your smart TV or streaming device, see the Apple TV app user guide.
- If you have issues installing the Apple TV app on your smart TV or streaming device, or connecting to the internet, contact the manufacturer.
- Set up the Apple Music app on your Samsung smart TV.
- The Apple TV app availability might vary by country and region. Learn what’s available in your country or region. The Apple TV app features and supported devices also might vary by country and region.
- You can also visit Samsung's website to see which Samsung smart TVs are supported and Roku's website to see which Roku streaming players and TVs are supported. To check if other devices are supported, like Amazon Fire TV devices, visit Apple's website.
- On Amazon Fire TV devices, you can't purchase content from the Apple TV app. You can purchase content on another supported device to watch it in the Apple TV app on your Amazon Fire TV device.