If you’ve ever spent time hovering around your iPad with your family looking at your latest vacation photos, or tried to watch a movie with your spouse on your MacBook, you’d probably appreciate the beauty of mirroring, a relatively new feature in iOS5 that lets you send a mirror image of your iPad, iPhone or MacBook to your television screen with a touch of a button. All thanks to the AirPlay mirroring feature.

Like many home theater features, mirroring takes a little setup and has a slight learning curve, but has a big payoff. Here are some steps for setting up AirPlay mirroring from your Apple devices to your home theater system.

Check your Network

AirPlay mirroring is based on wireless networking, a technology that is everywhere, but not consistently strong in every home. Many AirPlay users report skipping and freezing while watching streaming video from their Apple devices, but this is due to network interference, cheap routers, a weak wireless signal or a crowded network rather than being caused by a defective program. The first step in getting your AirPlay mirroring working properly is to check your network. Download one of the free tools (Like Insider or NetStumbler) for assessing how crowded your wireless network is. If it’s crowded with other wireless networks, move your own wireless signal to another place on the wireless spectrum.

Another helpful tip is to move your wireless router as close as possible to your home entertainment center. The closer the signal source is to your device, the higher strength you’ll get. Keeping the device in one location is also helpful – moving throughout a room (especially if you are AirPlay mirroring in a larger room) can move the device to a weaker point on the wireless signal.

Set up AppleTV

To begin AirPlay, you first need Apple TV, a digital media receiver that is the conduit between your Apple devices and your television. These devices are small, affordable and have a variety of apps pre-installed (like Hulu, Netflix and YouTube). Apple TV can also be used on its own, but is a requirement for AirPlay mirroring.

For AirPlay to work, you will need an iPhone 4s or iPad 2 installed with iOS and later.

Easily get your devices mirroring by following these steps:

  • Turn off Bluetooth on your devices, which can interfere with your Wi-Fi network.
  • Connect your devices and your Apple TV to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • On your device, double-click the home button; you will see a list of your recently used apps.
  • Swipe the list of recently used apps from left to right until you see the AirPlay button, which looks like a triangle inside a rectangle.
  • Press the AirPlay button to see what apps you have available for AirPlay.
  • Turn on AirPlay mirroring by selecting the name of your Apple TV (the default is Apple TV), and slide the on/off slider to the on position.

The instructions for a Mac are similar (you must be running the newly launched OS X Mountain Lion):

  • If your Mac supports AirPlay mirroring, the AirPlay icon will appear in the menu bar when Apple TV is available on the network.
  • Click the icon, then select Apple TV from the menu.

Prepare your Apps

Now that your setup is in place, your friends and family will see what you see. AirPlay is easily accessible from Photos, Videos, Music, Safari, and can be streamed in HDTV. The App Store has hundreds of apps compatible with AirPlay, including UStream, Discovery Channel HD, PBS for iPad, games (like Angry Birds, Atari’s Greatest Hits and Real Racing 2HD), Yahoo Music and more.

If you need assistance setting up your Apple TV, configuring mirroring or even creating a perfect environment for watching movies, video and television, give us a call for an estimate at (704) 450-4401!