AirPlay Mirroring Slow? None of the “Fixes” Work?

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Last Updated: Oct 06, 2020

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If you are having troubles streaming video content via AirPlay or Screen Mirroring from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to your Apple TV, you are not alone! I am guessing that you already tried the “fixes” offered by other bloggers, but none of them have worked. While I don’t have a permanent fix either, I can provide you with a workaround that enabled me to stream [email protected] videos from my iCloud Photo Library to my 4K Apple TV without lags or stuttering.

To make AirPlay work, stream the individual video instead of using Screen Mirroring. Continue reading to learn more.

I have been struggling specifically with AirPlay mirroring where I would mirror the screen of my iPhone to my 4K Apple TV for the purpose of replaying videos from my iCloud Photo Library. The videos that I recorded in 4K with 60 frames per second play fine on my iPhone, but as soon as I enable screen mirroring, they become unwatchable on the Apple TV. What I mean by that is that the playback is slow and jerky and the video intermittently stops every second or so.

AirPlay Video Streaming Slow and Jerky

What is AirPlay?

AirPlay is a wireless protocol developed by Apple that allows you to stream music or videos from your iOS device, or Mac to an Apple TV, HomePod, or a third-party AirPlay receiver.

AirPlay 1 vs. AirPlay 2 Audio and Video Streaming

I have had AirPlay problems since Apple first released the protocol stack in September of 2010. Apple used to call AirPlay AirTunes for audio-only streaming, but the company later changed the name to AirPlay. The name change made sense considering that AirPlay not only covers streaming music but also photos and videos.

With iOS 11.4, Apple launched AirPlay 2, and I was hoping that would solve the slow performance I have experienced with the previous version. However, it appears as if Apple’s focus with AirPlay 2 was to enable multi-device and multi-room streaming only, which is a crucial differentiator for the HomePod.

Apple TV - AirPlay

AirPlay Tips That Often Don’t Work

When I googled for a solution, all I could find were mostly useless tips, such as:

  • Get close to the router to improve the Wi-Fi signal,
  • Connect the Apple TV directly to your router via an Ethernet cable,
  • Turn off Bluetooth to reduce the chance of interference,
  • Try using a dual- or tri-band router that supports 2.4 and 5 GHz channels for better wireless performance,
  • Restart all your devices, including the router,
  • Update the firmware on all your devices, including tvOS on your Apple TV, and iOS on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch,
  • Remove any nearby, electrical devices that might cause interference with your Wi-Fi signals, such as a microwave oven, or your neighbor’s wireless access points.
  • Run the Wireless Diagnostics app of macOS.

While any one of these tips could help to fix wireless LAN problems and thus improve wireless streaming via AirPlay, they didn’t help me.

I suspect the primary reason why AirPlay Mirroring doesn’t work correctly is that there is a bug in the protocol or Apple’s current implementation. It’s similar to why my iMac randomly loses its Bluetooth connection to my wireless keyboard, mouse or trackpad. That’s why none of the tips and tricks you can read about on other blog posts work to permanently address the issue of constant buffering, or slow and jerky AirPlay streaming.

AirPlay via Share Sheet
AirPlay via Share Sheet

How to AirPlay video to Apple TV

While I don’t have a permanent fix for you, I have found a reasonable workaround to stream videos from my iPhone to my 4K Apple TV stutter- and lag-free via AirPlay.

Instead of swiping down from the top right corner of my iPhone Xs to enable system-wide Screen Mirroring, I play the video on my mobile device and then use the music playback controls to only AirPlay the video and not the whole screen.

Here is how you do it in a third-party video app:

  1. Open an app and play a video that you want to AirPlay to your Apple TV
  2. Tap the AirPlay icon tvos11-gray-airplay-inline-icon and then tap the AirPlay button
  3. Choose your Apple TV

To AirPlay videos from the Photos app, tap on the Share icon ios9-phone-voicemail-share-icon first and then select AirPlay. The main reason why I didn’t try this trick earlier was due to the lack of the AirPlay icon. Apple has cleverly hidden AirPlay behind the sharing sheet, where I found it by accident one day.

Alternatively, you can launch Control Center by swiping down from the upper right corner of your iPhone and then use the Music Playback Controls to select an AirPlay-enabled device.

AirPlay via Music Controls
AirPlay via Music Controls

AirPlay Slow? It’s Probably not Your Wi-Fi Network!

If in-app AirPlay video streaming works but screen mirroring doesn’t, your wireless infrastructure is likely not causing the issue. I use Enterprise-class Wi-Fi equipment from Ubiquiti to support my local network, and it can handle hundreds of clients in parallel. I have also positioned one of the access points directly next to the Apple TV, and according to speed tests, I get close a gigabit per second throughput. As a result, my WiFi equipment is not the bottleneck here. And considering that I can stream 4K videos from any device to the Apple TV without lag, stuttering or buffering, I can only assume that the reason why screen mirroring doesn’t work is that there is a bug in the latest version of tvOS or iOS that Apple hasn’t fixed yet.

However, if you are experiencing performance problems with your Apple TV when streaming videos from Netflix or iTunes, I recommend ruling out other issues first. For example, if you have an AirPort Express router at one end of your house and the Apple TV on the other side, poor Wi-Fi performance could certainly be a factor.

Conclusion – AirPlay Video Streaming Slow?

If you are frustrated about the reliability and performance of AirPlay, know that you are not alone. My recommendation is first to ensure that your local network or outdated devices are not the cause for your issues. If everything except AirPlay works fine, don’t keep spinning your wheels on finding a solution that maybe only Apple can provide. The good news is that there is at least a workaround for streaming videos directly to your Apple TV as long as you don’t use Screen Mirroring.

If you have further information on why Screen Mirroring sucks so bad in comparison to streaming an individual video, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

16 thoughts on “AirPlay Mirroring Slow? None of the “Fixes” Work?”

  1. Hi Michael,

    I am able to stream from apps to my television using the icon in the music controls with no problems, so thank you for that tip. However, because the music controls do not switch to controlling videos in the photo app, I am still unable to stream my own videos without unwatchable choppyness. Using the share icon on videos does not work, they still don’t stream correctly. I can airplay music from my phone and any video from third-party apps with no problems, so I know it’s not a wifi issue. What I really want to do is airplay some of my own edited videos stored on my phone, but because on some of them I’ve used copyrighted music, I can’t upload them to YouTube or anything like that.

    Any workarounds for this? It’s very frustrating.

    Thanks for your help,

    Jeff.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff!

      I’m still experiencing intermittent playback issues with videos mirrored from my iPhone and don’t know what’s causing it. Most likely it’s Apple’s crappy implementation of AirPlay :)

      Regarding workarounds – Try uploading to Vimeo instead of YouTube. Or you can use iCloud Photo Library and then stream those videos directly from the Photos app on Apple TV.

      Reply
  2. Hi

    I’m really hoping you can help me. I’m using a system called Xmirage to be able to mirror my windows desktop to my ipad screen. You see, I use zoom for work and i use this system to be able to see my clients while I do my presentation. I tried all the suggested fixes that came up in my search such as making sure my anti virus software s not blocking the system, updating my ipad etc…nothing works :-(

    Reply
  3. Hi Michael. I am a member of a Facebook group that own Epson Moverio augmented reality glasses. We use Airplay Mirroring to fly our drones & monitor the FPV with our glasses. Right now there is a slight lag of 0.28 seconds using an ad-hoc peer-to-peer connection. In order to do this we have to keep both Bluetooth & Wifi ON. Is there a way of lessening the current lag time? This is a fairly new discovery with a project that was done with a USB power mod to AppleTV Gen3 while using an iPhone 6 Plus to run the Airplay Mirroring. Lastly, would using a newer iPhone and/or newer AppleTV decrease the lag?

    Reply
    • Hey Ray,

      AirPlay 2 is supposed to fix some of those lag issues and that should work on your iPhone 6 Plus and Gen 3 Apple TV. Maybe newer Wi-Fi standard, such as Wi-Fi 6, will provider further improvements…not sure.

      What I can tell you is that recent updates to iOS and tvOS seemed to have made AirPlay more usable — at least on our iPhone XS/11 Pro and latest Gen Apple TV devices.

      That said, I never measured lag time – it just seems much better than before.

      Cheers,
      Michael

      Cheers,
      Michael

      Reply
  4. Dear Michael,

    You can’t imagine how helpful your AirPlay workaround is for me, but I’ll try to explain. I’m the Wall Street Journal’s film critic and, thanks to the pandemic, a born-again critic of streaming content. For someone used to seeing films in screening rooms with impeccable projection, or auditoriums with huge screens, it’s been deeply discouraging to have to watch stuff on a computer screen. And that’s where I’ve been watching it–Netflix and Amazon releases excepted–because most distributors provide links that play erratically or not at all on my big, beautiful LG OLED display in the living room. The problem, of course, is the one you addressed with your article on AirPlay. I’d been driving myself half-crazy tinkering with my wi-fi in the belief that it was responsible for the infernal stuttering. Now, thanks to you, all I do is touch an icon I would never have thought of touching and everything I need to see is suddenly available to be seen on my big screen.

    It’s a morale-builder for me, and probably a boon to my readers, since I’m no longer scornful of perfectly ok films that looked insignificant on my desktop. Now the question is what I can do for you? A tip for coffee, as you put it, would not convey my gratitude. Can I just use Paypal to send you a bit of cold cash?

    Best,
    Joe Morgenstern

    Reply
    • Hey Joe!

      I really appreciate the feedback and I’m so glad my workarounds helped you do your job. If you like, you can buy me a coffee using this link: https://michaelkummer.com/buymecoffee

      Cheers,
      Michael

      Reply
  5. My AirPlay was working perfectly the first day I got my Apple TV. The next day I try it and it’s super laggy. I’ve restarted everything and still nothing. Tried screen mirroring and individual airplay but they both Lag. This is really frustrating. I’m hoping it’s a bug that Apple will patch for the next update🙏🏼

    Reply
  6. I have an iphone XS and latest apple TV. On my older apple TV in another room I have no problems at all, but my new one regularly drops airplay. I have all the same settings etc, I’ve turned bluetooth off, screen lock off, sleep mode off, I even have it set to password protected incase something is randomly trying to connect. I use airplay as you describe in this post.

    I am going to try hardwiring the new apple TV incase that is the cause, otherwise I am at a complete loss as to why airplay constantly drops on this new one.

    Reply
  7. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Using the option in the top corner saved me from selling my Spin Bike because I could never get the Peloton App to get to my TV using AirPlay without horrible lag. I ordered an HDMI cable and then found this article. I wish I found this article first. I think I will be returning it. The Peloton App worked like a charm tonight. YOU DA MAN!!!

    Reply
    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for the feedback, you made my day and I’m glad my article was of help!

      Cheers,
      Michael

      Reply
  8. Michael,
    God sent you to save this sad soul ; )
    I also googled and tried all what you said without any success
    Your workaround works like a charm!
    Thanks thanks!!!!!!

    Reply
  9. here’s a fix for playback lag, stuttering that may work for some of you:

    https://macmedicine.org/en/fix-airplay-mirroring-lag/

    Reply

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