Although AirPlay Mirroring is easy to setup, you can run into performance problems while using it. Especially harder use cases like watching videos can cause performance problems like:
- Video stutters
- Video freezes
- Dropped frames or dropped connection
Here are some tips that could help you improve the overall performance of AirPlay Mirroring.
The first thing you should try is to adjust the display settings. It could happen that just a little bit of tweaking will solve all your problems. With my Macbook Pro Retina some settings are „not watchable” (video stutters and freezes), others work perfect.
Change Desktop size when mirroring your built-in screen
Normally, AirPlay Mirroring mirrors your built-in screen (see screenshot: „Use AirPlay Display To: Mirror Built-In Retina Display”). Try to modify this mode by changing the option „Match desktop size To” to the resolution of the Apple TV (not the built-in display).
Instead of mirroring your built-in display, you can try to extend your desktop and use the Apple TV as a second screen. In my experience (Macbook Pro Retina), this helps a lot and gives me the best results.
Furthermore, you can adjust the display resolution of your second screen in „System preferences > Displays” (left part of the screenshot) and try if one setting works better than the other.
Use ethernet connections
If possible, try to connect your Mac as well as your Apple TV using an ethernet connection. By doing that you can figure out whether Wi-Fi connection is responsible for the problems or not. A slow or interfered Wi-Fi connection can result in dropped frames or video freezes.
- Check for wireless network interferences. It’s likely that your router can show you how crowded your location is (see screenshot of my Fritz!Box). Try to change the channel of the connection.
- Make sure to use the fast 802.11n mode (not b/g).
- Switch to 5 GHz Wi-Fi if your router offers this option. A good router can establish a second Wi-Fi using the 5 GHz range which should be faster and less crowded. A second Wi-Fi is a good idea because otherwise all of your hardware has to support 5 GHz range. There’s also another drawback: It could happen that in rooms that are far away from your router the connection isn’t as good as with 2,4 GHz (because of the higher frequencies)
- Try to minimize the distance between the Router and Apple TV (place them as close as possible)
- Turn off bluetooth (just to make sure that there aren’t any interferences)
Playing files from a network drive (NAS)
It could also happen that loading the video from your source is too slow. So if you have them stored on a NAS, USB Stick or whatever, copy them on your Desktop (which is a very fast SSD in modern MacBooks in order to eliminate your NAS as origin of the problem).
Try different player software
This isn’t always possible because of the supported files formats (video, audio, subtitles), but try playing your files with another video player. In my experience, this can make a difference in terms of performance.
You can extend the QuickTime Player with some more codecs by installing Perian.
Of course, VLC is also worth a try. By pressing Cmd+i you get some statistics details about „lost frames” which indicates performance issues.
Hardware & software in general
The hardest thing to try: different hardware. This could be everything: Your Mac is too slow, your router has a problem, etc.
Concerning software you can make sure that everything is up-to-date (latest OS versions, firmware updates, etc.).
Any other ideas or experiences
I would appreciate if you leave a comment about some more tips or experiences you’ve made.
Link: Troubleshooting AirPlay and AirPlay Mirroring (Apple)