Stream All Mac System Audio Over AirPlay in OS X

Aug 1, 2012 - 51 Comments

Stream audio from a Mac to AirPlay with OS X Mountain Lion

You can now stream a Macs system audio directly over AirPlay without any third party apps or tweaks. The ability to AirPlay audio is really great, and perhaps the best part is that unlike AirPlay mirroring, the system audio stream should work on any Mac that can run a modern version of Mac OS X, anything beyond Mountain Lion will work just fine, not just 2011 model year and newer Macs like what support AirPlay video.

How to AirPlay Stream Audio from Mac

Here’s how to stream all system audio from the Mac to a compatible AirPlay device:

  1. Hold the Option key and click the Sound icon in the menu bar of OS X
  2. Select the AirPlay compatible output device (Apple TV, AirPlay speakers, AirPort Express, etc)

Is that easy or what? Now launch Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, DJay, or anything else that has audio in Mac OS X, and your Macs sound gets streamed out to the AirPlay receiver.

If you’ve been trying to figure out a way to get wireless speakers hooked up to a Mac with little effort, well, this is it, and it doesn’t get any easier.

This great tip and screenshot comes to us from MacGasm.

Stream AirPlay audio from a Mac

In terms of Macs, you’ll find this works the same in OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, OS X Mavericks, and Mountain Lion, as long as it supports AirPlay, which all modern iMacs, MacBooks, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Pro, and Mac Mini hardware does. For the receiving end, it should work with any AirPlay compatible audio output device, whether that’s an Apple TV hooked up to a television and sound system, an AirPlay receiver speaker set, an AirPort Express, or whatever other audio situation you have. Just be sure the AirPlay receiver and Mac are nearby and on the same network so that full streaming will work, and sound the best.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Hal Denton says:

    Is there a way to send to multiple Airport express devices. I use them for music all over our property. would be great to select more than one.

  2. bob ama says:

    this is a crappy workaround, it’s mutually exclusive – you can’t stream to mac AND to airplay speakers

    bad design by apple

  3. SA in AVL says:

    Wow–so pleased to find this trick–up to now, my MacBook Pro (2012 running El Capitan) was the only device not able to stream music from radio station web site or iTunes using my Airport Express connected to my analog stereo system. But my iPad and iPhone were doing this. Airplay says it’s “off”–but the MacBook could see the Airport Express device in System preferences/Utilities/Airport utility. Couldn’t figure out out to “turn on” Airplay. Well never mind–this was so simple. Music happily streaming from the MacBook! Which still says “Airplay off” in the menu bar.

  4. alicia says:

    Great – except there is a DELAY – very annoying if there is singing or close ups of the playing of musical instruments! When using Airfoil there is a way of synchronising, how do I do it when opening an app through Safari 9 / OS X 10.11?

  5. Mike says:

    Awesome! I was going into system preferences every time and this is SO much quicker! Thanks! I have a 2007 iMac, and didn’t think I could do this on one that old. Great tip! Thanks!

  6. Meg says:

    Great tip! Is there a similar solution I can use with windows?


  7. Frank says:

    Did they remove this in Mavericks? I don’t see my Airport Express, either in the menubar or in the Sound preferences.

  8. Guinioul says:

    Thanks A LOT for this great trick !!!!!!!

    I can now play webased radio on my airplay sound system .

    A big big big thanks !!!

  9. Tarcan says:

    Just thank you. Usefull tip for everyone !

  10. Chico says:

    Great tip! I was trying to figure this out for a day and my google-fu didn’t work until just now. You guys are aces.

  11. Peter Carter says:

    I find that the order in which I do things matters.

    Start Spotify, then switch from internal speakers to airport express just gives lovely silence.

    But switch to airport express and then start Spotify works fine.

  12. Mark says:

    Has anyone tried this with a Bang & Olufsen internal AirPlay devise (A8?). iTunes works but not pandora.

  13. AGC says:

    I’m currently running Leopard 10.6.8 and iTunes 11.0.1 (12) on an Intel 2006 Macbook.
    I have a Sony STR DN1030 A/V receiver which is Airplay compatible.
    Recently got rid of my iPhone and wanted to stream audio (only) to the Sony AV receiver via iTunes from the Macbook.
    Started up iTunes, hit the Airplay icon (next to the volume control on the iTunes main window screen). My device was visible, selected it and hey presto … music came blasting out of my speakers!! Remember to knock your volume down on iTunes or you will literally get blasted with a wall of sound … and your heart my skip several beats too!
    iTunes radio works as well.
    Not tried video streaming or mirroring. I’m guessing you probably need Airparrot. I only wanted audio streaming.
    Point is … audio streaming works fine on my Leopard and it is regarded as one of the older Macs.

  14. ACol says:

    I have wanted to be do this forever. All I have found is airfoil and other terminal based solutions.

    This is so simple and works so well!

    Thank you,


    • Tom75 says:


      I tried the streaming as it was described here but it doesn´t work. I have mountain lion and when I click option and sound I can actually see my airport express station but for some reason I cannot select it.

      The same problem when I open sound preferences, the air port station is also in there but cannot be selected?

      I really would like this to work and would appreciate any help or tips.

      Thanks and regards,

  15. Rolf says:


    does this only work for Mountain Lion? I am currently running snow leopard 10.6.8 on a macbook pro from 2010 or 2011 (not sure)…


  16. Squeej says:

    I definitely love the ability to stream my audio to my Apple TV. However, when I select my Apple TV as my Output Device via the Sound icon in the menu bar, it triggers full AirPlay Mirroring: Video and Audio Mirrored to Apple TV.

    The only way I’m able to solely output audio on my Apple TV (no video) is by selecting it in the Output list of Sound Preferences directly.

    Anyone else having this problem?

    It’s just annoying cause this should be a quick two clicks, but now I have to navigate preferences to get there… unfortunate :-/

  17. Does this work with AirTunes as well?

  18. It is pretty lame that Apple has gone to the effort of adding the mirroring and the ability to stream audio to other sources, BUT THEY EXCLUDED THE MULTIPLE SPEAKER OPTION. They have it in the iTunes, how frickin hard would it be to add that ability? I have found Musicality which does it all on its own with Pandora,, and Grooveshark. If Musicality can do it, natively, and does it well, why can’t Apple do it? Two steps forward, one step back, as usual.

    • Wdido says:

      yeah i agree, the exclusion of multiple speaker is a big drawback with regards to Itunes … such a hassle when not using it ..

  19. Caleb says:

    Whenever I click on the option in Sound Preferences, it reverts back to the internal speakers option. Any reason for this?

    • Anders says:

      restart the airport express and then i work. My sound in the finder doesnt show the options to change the output, i have to go to the preferences each time. Any workaround there?

  20. Freddie says:

    When i hold down the option key and click the sound icon on my mid 2010 iMac, i only see 1 of my 3 appleTVs. Any tip?

  21. Alexander L. says:

    Anyone else experience some latency? :/
    I have a new router, and a Denon stereo with AirPlay, that usually words fine

    • beev says:

      Mine started to show up all of a sudden. Don’t know what did it. Airport Express working, but not syncing audio & video when I tried it with a YouTube video.

    • Christoph says:

      Yep, huge latency in a movie in QuickTime. After 10 to 15 minutes, the movie hangs, if AirPlay is turned on.

  22. Ben says:

    Kind of off topic as well but how are you running SoundFlower in Mountain Lion? As far as I knew it didn’t work correctly since Lion… I’m really interested in getting it to work again.

  23. André says:

    I don’t see my Airport Express in the list either. Sad. Will continue to use Airfoil.

    • I didn’t see mine until I went into the Sound Preferences panel. Because I also have an Apple TV, it only showed one of the multiple AirPlay devices. Once I selected “Output” as my AirPort Express, everything worked great.

      I hope that helps,

  24. Winston Lau says:

    It doesn’t work with Airport Express. Looks like I’m stuck with either AppleTV or AirFoil.

    • Nicko says:

      It works with my Airport Express–Pandora, YouTube, Music from NPR (aahhh-FolkLife!), and more. No problems!

    • Chris E says:

      I couldn’t get it to work with my Airport Express either when I tried it directly from the Sound preference pane. Clicking on the Airport Express in the Output tab did nothing.

      I haven’t tried it from the menu bar yet as I don’t have the icon enabled usually. I’ll have a go when I’m next in front of the Mac. (This is on a 2010 iMac by the way).

      • Flo says:

        I’m using a mid 2010 MBP and it works perfectly here with an AirPort Express. Did you try a reset?

        • beev says:

          What kind of reset? I’m not seeing my Airport Express in the menu bar either. It’s there in iTunes, and AirFoil.

          • issues says:

            Same here. I got all excited when I saw this post, but my Airport Express isn’t showing up either. Bummed. Running a 2009 MBP FWIW. Are we thinking resetting AirPort might do it?

          • Doug says:

            Try unplugging your Airport device for a few seconds, then plug it back in. I was having the same problem selecting Airplay, but after my Airport Express powered back up, I was able to select Airplay for sound output.

      • I found that I couldn’t use my Airport Express on the 5 Ghz band but once I switched it worked like a charm.

  25. Flo says:

    Yep, and really nobody, even Apple itself, didn’t really mention it. They all just complained about being not able to do AirPlay mirroring.

    The best thing is, it really synchronizes with Video in QuickTime and Safari (HTML5 fallback) and even with the HTML5 Youtube video player! That’s … simply awesome.

  26. Don says:

    Pretty nice, though I think I may still keep using Airfoil for music uses – nice to send the music to the larger device without including various system noises and clicks. Hopefully this’ll motivate them to cut the price a little. I don’t know that I’d have paid $25 just for that functionality.

  27. simone says:

    thanks a lot! this is great.

  28. Scott says:

    Still no way to natively steam audio via airplay to multiple devices – right?

  29. Elk Cloner says:

    Could someone link the wallpaper ? Please … I’ll invent a poem for you.

  30. Dreadolph says:

    Same way, use Option Key, click on WiFi, now you are able run Diagnostics and see current params.

  31. Roger says:

    Not quite related but do you happen to know where I can get that wallpaper?

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