Updated: Tip: How to use AirPlay on iPhone home movies


Curious how to use the new iOS 4.2 AirPlay feature to play the movies you shot on your iPhone on the bigger Apple TV screen? Unfortunately, Apple didn't include this functionality. You can still do it. Sort of. But it's a very kludgy and annoying work around. Check it out after the break!

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, the original tip below provides audio-only output with no video support. I initially thought this was a bug -- had to be a bug -- but no. Updated tip after the break!

UPDATE 2: More on AirPlay and what does and doesn't work...

AirPlay won't play movies from the Photo app camera roll. There's either a weird hardware limitation or a terribly unfortunate software limitation at work here. If you want to play your home movies, here's what you have to do:

  • Sync the video from your iPhone to your Mac or Windows PC.
  • Load the video into iTunes
  • Sync the video back to your iPhone (or iPod touch or iPad)
  • Go to the iPod app (iPhone) or Video app (iPod touch or iPad)
  • Play the video
  • Tap AirPlay

Which pretty much defeats the convenience and cool factor of AirPlay, doesn't it?

If all you want to do is play the audio for some reason, you can try this:

  • Tap the video to start playing it
  • Double click the Home Button to reveal the multitasking dock
  • Double swipe to the left, past the first set of widgets, to find the AirPlay controls
  • Tap the AirPlay button to bring up a list of available devices, including your Apple TV
  • Tap on Apple TV

It may work or may just do nothing. Seriously. Sigh.

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to news@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward...)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Updated: Tip: How to use AirPlay on iPhone home movies


Is there a hack for the old Apple TV that would make AirPlay work with it.
Moe, it streams the video and audio.

just updated to 4.2.1 an hour ago and airplay is missing on my iphone 4 32gb
do i need a apple tv for it to show up on my phone or do i need to do a restore?????

This tip does not appear to work - and I have all other Airplay functionality up and running.
While it is possible to walk through the series of screen shots/toggles that you lay out above, the video itself will not transfer to Apple TV. Others on the Apple forum are reporting the same thing.

video is not streaming from my photo app .... it wont stream from netflix either... i know thrs netflix on atv but it should work no?

Yeah, it wouldn't work for me either. AirPlay works just fine otherwise with my Apple TV (2G). Oh well.
But besides this functionality, it would also be nice to have AirPlay for the photo gallery slide show. But for now I think the audio and video streaming is really great!

I just installed 4.2 in iPad, iPhone, and did the update on apple tv. Everything works well exept this. I play video and go to the multitasking dock and turn to apple tv stream. It just won't send the video. It sees the apple tv and the option is there but when I choose it the icon turns blue for a second indicating the connection is done but it immediately turns back to iPhone playing.
Is this a bug? How can I fix this? Everything else works like a champ. Even YouTube from iPhone streams to apple tv..

By the way Matthew, the photo gallery does steam to apple tv. You have to select one pic and the airplay icon is on the top of the frame. Once you stream the first pic it would do them all. Sliding your finger to the next or previous pic changes the pics and also playing the show.

Yeah, I'm getting just audio as well. I assumed that was a bug, hopefully it is because being able to play home movies is one of the killer AirPlay features!

According to the video on Apple's site you can use AirPlay to show photos from the Photos App. At least thats what they make it seem like. Interesting.

yeah according to Apples video there should be an airplay button in the top right corner that will allow them to play on the Apple tv

I get the same results as @alex. Launch the movie from the Photos app, select the Apple TV from AirPlay on the iPhone and the button momentarily turns blue, then goes back to gray and you have to reselect it. Nothing appears on the AppleTV in terms of video.
Excellent tutorial Rene regardless of this not working on my setup.

Same result as several others. The airplay icon turns blue, while the movie on the iphone pauses. Then the airplay icon turns grey again and it resumes playing on the phone. No video or sound through apple TV. Works for all the other things (youtube, slideshows, movies through itunes). This is a disappointment. I hope they fix that quickly.

Got the new updates installed all around on my AppleTV, iphone4, and ipad.
Heres what I found and did:
Iphone video, following the above instructions, did not play and the airplay button would immediately switch back to iphone. I reconnected the iphone back to itunes and did another sync, and now the airplay button stays when you click it (following the above instructions). However, it still doesn't play recorded videos you took with your iphone.
What DOES work though is whatever you want to be shown on your shiny Apple TV via airplay via your iphone, the videos shot need to be added to your regular video library in itunes. Then it'll play fine.
I hope this makes sense and helps someone.

Okay so for some reason I don't have an option for Airplay, I swipe twice to the left and I only have the volume bar. Does anyone else have this problem and know how to fix it?

Gage - you need to enable Airplay on the AppleTV - also update it first.
Although this still won't make it work - probably, mine doesn't sigh

Snap.. I get the same results as @alex. Launch the movie from the Photos app, select the Apple TV from AirPlay on the iPhone and the button momentarily turns blue, then goes back to gray and you have to reselect it. Nothing appears on the AppleTV in terms of video.
Excellent tutorial Rene regardless of this not working on my setup.

Same problem. Won't play home movies on Iphone 4. Tried resynching, etc. Everything else is fine (though pictures lag a bit).

Well, this is obviously either a bug or it was not meant to play video just recorder on Iphone. Was this suppossed to work from camera roll video? Anybody knows?

Airplay does not seem to be reliable on iPhone 3GS with AppleTV2. I was able to play video after a while. The iPhone then lost the connection again and airplay functionality disappeared. Seems buggy.

I have the same problem from camera roll. It is buggy. As another commenter pointed out, works fine with videos placed in the iTunes library, but boy does that defeat the utility of Airplay.

Am I missing something? I have appletv V1 as well as appletv V2 boxes, but for the life of me I can't figure out why I would want to stream from my ipad or iphone when I get the same content streamed to my both the old and new verison appletvs already from my itunes library. Somebody tell me why i should care about airplay.

You can play audio via airplay to apple tv 2, then enable a slideshow via the photos app to airplay also. Bug in airplay however defaulta the airplay enabled slideshow to slides with 2 second dissolve transitions, regardless of your slideshow settings on the iPhone. If you then disable airplay and play your slideshow as you normally would (on the iPhone), you get the transition type and slide time of your choice. I hope to see a fix soon in 4.2.2...

It seems that the problem lies entirely within the Photos/Camera apps, which house the iPhone-shot videos. Move that video to any other app that supports video AirPlay, and it streams. I wonder if the Dropbox app is updated to support video AirPlay if that could be used as a workaround.

Did the author of this post test this? 'Cause it doesn't work. The Internet has enough utter BS on it without someone just making s**t up. Fail, Rene, fail.

Rene, you clearly didn't test this. Even your screenshot shows that it will be sending audio only, as evidenced by the audio icon on the AppleTV button.

had the same problem niko360, just reboot the phone. i don't have an ATV either, it saw my AirPort Express and will send audio..

Just update the software on Apple TV and you can stream everything to it Music, Video, Photos and Movies, just did it all here and it all works like a dream

The AirPlay icon was not showing up anywhere on my iPhone. After a reboot, it's there and streaming music to my AirPort Express like a charm.

I had to reboot my phone after after the latest sync as well to have the airplay button show up at all. I just got my iPhone 4 two weeks ago and upgraded to latest iOS, but the airplay wasn't showing despite having an airport express on my network. Just rebooted and there it is!

This is weak apple. It says you can do this ON YOUR WEBSITE!!!
How it works
Start watching a movie or TV show on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Tap the AirPlay icon and choose Apple TV.
Whatever you’re watching will instantly begin streaming to your widescreen TV.
If it’s on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, it’s on Apple TV.
You can already stream music, photos, and video from your computer to Apple TV. With AirPlay, you can stream it all from your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, too. So if you feel like watching a movie you have on one of your devices, you don’t need to rent or buy it again. You can also stream a home video you just recorded, or videos from AirPlay-enabled apps and websites on Safari. Simply tap to start playing content on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, then tap again to instantly stream whatever you’re watching — or listening to — directly to Apple TV.5