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AirPlay to Mac vs. Reflector

What’s the Best Way to Screen Mirror iPhone, iPad and More to macOS?

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AirPlay to Mac vs Reflector

What is AirPlay to Mac? How does AirPlay to Mac work? What's Reflector? This guide breaks down the essential differences between AirPlay to Mac and Reflector screen mirroring software on macOS. Get everything you need to know about Apple’s new screen mirroring feature and the Reflector app on Mac to decide which solution is best for you.

The Key Point:

Both AirPlay to Mac and Reflector run on Mac computers and wirelessly receive connections from AirPlay-enabled devices. You can wirelessly share content from iPhone, iPad and Mac to a Mac computer running one of these solutions. However, Reflector is a much more robust and versatile option that makes it a better fit for professional environments and users who require anything beyond the most basic screen mirroring.

Jump ahead:

What is AirPlay to Mac?

Announced in 2021, AirPlay to Mac is one of the new features accompanying the release of macOS Monterey, the latest operating system for Apple’s Mac product line. In short, AirPlay to Mac lets users share content from their iPhone, iPad or Mac to another Mac computer.

What is Reflector?

Reflector is a wireless screen mirroring app that runs on Mac (and Windows) computers. The Reflector screen mirroring app on macOS is much more robust, versatile and customizable than AirPlay to Mac. Share iPhone, iPad, Mac and more to a Mac running Reflector.

See the complete feature breakdown between each solution below.

Key Differences between AirPlay to Mac and Reflector

Both AirPlay to Mac and Reflector allow devices to share content from Apple devices to Mac. However, there are some big differences between these two options. Keep reading and see the feature comparison chart below.

Cross-Platform Support

A key difference between Reflector and AirPlay to Mac is that Reflector isn’t limited to the Apple ecosystem. Reflector software is cross-platform and allows any major phone, tablet or computer that uses AirPlay, Google Cast or Miracast to mirror to a computer running Reflector.

iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Android, Windows, and Chromebook devices can all mirror and share content to Reflector. With AirPlay to Mac, you can only share Apple devices. Reflector also supports a much wider range of Apple devices — specifically older Apple devices that aren’t compatible with AirPlay to Mac.

Reflector screen mirroring iPhone, iPad and Android devices

Reflector allows numerous device types to screen mirror, including iOS, iPadOS, Android, Mac, Windows and Chromebook devices.

Note the differences in generation and year of each device type listed below:

Which iPhone, iPad and Mac models are compatible with AirPlay to Mac?
  • MacBook Pro (2018 and newer)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and newer)
  • iMac (2019 and newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • Mac Mini (2020 and newer)
  • Mac Pro (2019)
  • iPhone (7 and newer)
  • iPad Pro (2nd generation and newer)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and newer)
  • iPad (6th generation and newer)
  • iPad mini (5th gen and newer)
Which iPhone, iPad and Mac models are compatible with Reflector?
  • iPod Touch (5th generation and newer)
  • iPad Pro (1st generation and newer)
  • iPad Air (1st generation and newer)
  • iPad 2 and newer
  • iPad mini (1st generation and newer)
  • iPhone 4S and newer
  • iMac (Mid 2011 and newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2011 and newer)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2011 and newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Early 2011 and newer)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 and newer)

AirPlay to Mac vs. Reflector: Cross-Platform Compatibility

 
Reflector:
AirPlay to Mac:
Screen mirror Android to Mac
Screen mirror Windows to Mac *
Screen mirror Chromebook to Mac

*Available by using AirParrot with Reflector for Mac

AirPlay to Mac vs. Reflector: Number of Mirrored Devices

AirPlay to Mac only allows you to screen mirror one device at a time. With Reflector, you can screen mirror many devices to Mac simultaneously.

AirPlay to Mac and Reflector screen mirroring side-by-side view

Left: AirPlay to Mac only allows screen mirroring in fullscreen mode with one device at a time. Right: Reflector allows multiple devices to screen mirror, including Android, Windows and Chromebook devices.

AirPlay to Mac vs. Reflector: Customization

Reflector lets you customize the shared content on your Mac screen in numerous ways. This isn’t possible with AirPlay to Mac, where a user’s mirrored device displays fullscreen on a black background. Reflector has more options that allow users to display their desktop background, change the color of the background, enable device frames to make mirrored screens look like physical devices and more. See the full feature comparison list below.

Reflector screen mirroring device frames and background

Reflector allows users to show or hide simulated device frames for their specific devices. Additionally, users can customize the background when mirroring in fullscreen.

AirPlay to Mac vs. Reflector: Recording Options

Reflector allows for numerous recording options while AirPlay to Mac does not. This makes Reflector ideal for people who teach, record instructional videos, game, or livestream.

Recording features built in to Reflector:

  • Take screenshots of mirrored devices
  • Take screen recordings of mirrored devices
  • Record voiceover narration
  • Record webcam video
  • Customize recording quality
  • Export recordings directly to your computer

These features are not available with AirPlay to Mac.

Reflector recording webcam and Google Pixel phone

With Reflector, users can record voiceover narration or their webcam as they create a screen recording of their mirrored device. Reflector automatically combines webcam footage and voiceover audio into a single video with the mirrored device screen.

AirPlay to Mac vs. Reflector: Connecting to the Computer

Reflector and AirPlay to Mac both show up as a receiver option in a device’s screen mirroring options. For iPhone and iPad users, this is in Control Center under Screen Mirroring. There are a few differences in connection security. Here are the available customization options for how much control users have when allowing devices to connect to their computer:

AirPlay to Mac

  • Enable password (optional and customizable)
  • Prompt for a PIN if not using the same Apple ID as the computer (not customizable)

Reflector

  • Enable password (optional and customizable)
  • Enable a PIN code always (optional)
  • Enable a PIN code the first time a new device connects (optional)
  • Connect using a Quick Connect® code

AirPlay to Mac vs. Reflector: Wired vs. Wireless

You can use a cable to connect one Mac to another when using AirPlay to Mac. Reflector is a completely wireless solution.

AirPlay to Mac vs. Reflector: Companion Apps

AirPlay to Mac doesn’t offer support for multiple devices or device management. Reflector does. Reflector offers two iOS and iPadOS companion apps that allow users to manage on-screen content and enable connections on restrictive networks. From the apps, Reflector users can preview on-screen content before displaying it; show, hide and disconnect devices; make connecting quicker; see all mirrored devices; and much more. Check out Reflector Director and Reflector Student for complete details.

Feature Comparison

 
Reflector:
AirPlay to Mac:
Screen mirror iPhone
Screen mirror iPad
Screen mirror iPod Touch
Screen mirror Mac  
Screen mirror Android
Screen mirror Windows *
Screen mirror Chromebook
Send audio only option
Send photos
Send videos
Mirror multiple devices at once
Show device frame
Customize device frame
Windowed mode (use with other windows open)
Fullscreen mode
Customize background on Fullscreen mode
Take screenshots of mirrored device
Record mirrored screen
Record voiceover audio with mirrored screen
Record webcam video with mirrored screen
Customize background of recorded screen
Customize recording quality
Emphasize specific mirrored devices
Scale size of mirrored screens
Keep mirrored device on top of other windows option
Force rotation of mirrored device
Extend desktop

Enable password for device to mirror
Customize password for device to mirror
Enable PIN code for device to mirror
Enter Quick Connect® code for device to mirror
Allow or deny devices to connect before they’re shown onscreen
Hide connected devices without disconnecting
Remote management of connected devices **
Show preview of mirrored content before displaying ***

*Available by using AirParrot with Reflector for Mac
**Uses companion app Reflector Director
***Uses companion app Reflector Student

Final Thoughts

AirPlay to Mac works great for newer devices and fits inside Apple’s ecosystem. The feature allows a handful of Apple devices to seamlessly share content and mirror their screens to Mac computers on the latest operating system, macOS Monterey. Older Macs and other macOS operating systems don’t support AirPlay to Mac, and older Apple devices can’t share content using the feature.

Reflector combines the functionality of AirPlay, Google Cast and Miracast into a single app for both macOS and Windows. It allows nearly any device on nearly any operating system to mirror screens, share content, record video and more to Mac and Windows computers. Users can share just their screens or customize them with device frames simulating physical devices. Multiple devices can mirror screens simultaneously, connect quickly and record voiceover and webcam video. More options, customization, and support for all device types are available with Reflector.

Reflector is the most powerful screen mirroring software for Mac and Windows

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