There are lots of reasons why you might want to mirror your iPhone or iPad screen to your Mac, one good reason is that a Mac's screen is much bigger than even the biggest iPad.
Apple provides AirPlay, which is as an easy way to stream content from your iPhone, iPad or Mac to a TV screen - either via an Apple TV unit, or if your TV has AirPlay built in as any do these days (Read: Which TVs work with AirPlay). But AirPlay does not allow you to stream from an iPhone or iPad to a Mac - yet.
Funny enough it is possible to share your Mac's screen to an iPad via Sidecar (read: How to use an iPad as a second screen with a Mac) but it doesn't work the other way around.
This is changing though. When iOS 15 arrives on the iPhone, iPadOS 15 on the iPad, and Monterey on the Mac later in 2021 it should be possible to use AirPlay to send content to your Mac from an iPhone, iPad, or another Mac. You will even be able to use your Mac as an AirPlay speaker.
We're run through how we expect AirPlay to work in Monterey and iOS 15 below. There are also a couple of alternative solutions, which we will also discuss.
How to mirror to a Mac with AirPlay
One of the new features of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and Monterey when they arrive will be the ability to AirPlay from iPhone or iPad to a Mac's screen.
Even when this arrives with the new operating system updates at the end of 2021, it not work with every Mac though. You will need one of the following Macs, iPhones or iPads to take full advantage of the feature:
- MacBook Pro (2018 and later)
- MacBook Air (2018 and later)
- iMac (2019 and later)
- iMac Pro (2017)
- Mac mini (2020 and later)
- Mac Pro (2019)
- iPhone 7 and later
- iPad Pro (2nd generation and later)
- iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
- iPad (6th generation and later)
- iPad mini (5th generation and later)
If your iPhone, iPad or Mac is older it may still be possible to share content, but it will be a lower resolution. Set 'Allow AirPlay for' to 'Everyone' or 'Anyone on the same network'.
Until the new operating systems launch this won't work - unless you have installed the betas (read: How to join Apple's beta program and try out new software). However, once Monterey and co arrive this is how it should work:
- Make sure your devices are on the same WiFi network.
- Open Control Centre on your iPhone. (A swipe from the top right on a phone with no home button).
- Tap on Screen Mirroring.
- Right now you will only see an Apple TV or a TV with AirPlay, but after the software update you will also see your Mac.
- Select your Mac.
- Now close Control Centre.
- You can now stream from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac.
How to stream content from iPad or iPhone to Mac
While we wait for Apple to update the Mac, iPhone and iPad operating systems there are a few options for streaming from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac, you need to install an app on your Mac though.
There are a couple you could choose from, AirServer or Reflector, we look at both below.
Reflector, which you can download here has a free 7-day trial, or costs £16/$14.99. It lets you mirror your iPhone, iPad to the screen of your Mac (and other devices).
- Download and install the Reflector software on your Mac (you will see a message warning you about installing it, but since we know it to be a legitimate app you should be alright to go ahead and open it).
- If you are just using the trial you can click on Try Reflector 4. Otherwise, purchase the software and enter the licence key. (If you use the trial version you'll see watermarks and it will time out after seven days).
- You won't see an interface appear, but you should see the Reflector icon in the dock and the Reflector options should appear in the menu. You don't need to do anything here though.
- With Reflector running on your Mac, turn to your iPhone or iPad, open whatever it is you want to stream and tap on the Share icon (the one that's a square with an arrow coming out of it).
- Choose AirPlay.
- You will now see the option to stream to your Mac, which you will be able to do as soon as you enter the AirPlay code which will appear on your Mac's screen.
AirServer (£14.99/$14.99) has a free 14-day trial which also has a watermark - although this time the watermark isn't quite so intrusive. You can download it here.
- Download and install - as above you will need to approve the app before it installs since it's not downloaded from the Mac App Store. You may also have to allow AirServer to ‘Control your Computer' in Security & Privacy settings.
- Again, you won't see an interface, this time the only indication that AirSever is running on your Mac is an icon in the menu bar that looks a little like the AirDrop or share icons on a Mac.
- Now, if you open your iPhone and iPad and find the thing you wish to stream to your Mac, tap on the Share icon, and choose AirPlay.
- Again, you will see your Mac listed as an option to stream too. Tap on that icon and it will start streaming straight away - without having to enter a code.
Another reason why you might want to stream from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac is so that you can watch Netflix, Amazon or Disney+ content offline on the larger screen. Read How to watch Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ offline on a Mac.
For more advice about using the Apple TV read: How to set up the Apple TV.