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How to AirPlay only audio from your Mac

Sending audio from your Mac to a nearby AirPlay device can be a useful tool for presentations, as well as another way to listen to music.

AirPlay Mirroring was first introduced to the Mac with the release of OS X Mountain Lion in 2012. The feature makes it possible to take whatever is on your Mac's screen and display it on a nearby television that's connected to an Apple TV. But what if you want to share audio without someone else seeing your screen, or you simply want to use an AirPlay-equipped speaker to listen to music?

You can use AirPlay on your Mac to send only the dings, beeps and every other sound to a nearby AirPlay device. This feature comes in particularly handy when listening to Apple Music's Beats 1 radio station, due to Apple disabling AirPlay in iTunes when you begin streaming the channel (for some reason I'm yet to figure out).

In order for this to work you'll need to have a Mac built in mid-2011 or later, running OS X Mountain Lion or newer.

Remember, you'll need an Apple TV or AirPlay-compatible speaker connected to the same network as your Mac for this to work.

In order to stream all audio from your Mac using AirPlay, you just need to change the audio output of your Mac. You can do this one of two ways:

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The first is by launching System Preferences, clicking on Sound, followed by the Output tab. Select the appropriate speaker or Apple TV from the list of options.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The easier method is to hold down the Option key on your keyboard, then click on the speaker icon in your menu bar. You will then see a list of audio output devices, including any Apple TVs or AirPlay speakers on the local network.

Once you change the audio output to an AirPlay device, all audio coming from your Mac will go through the Apple TV, and not the internal speakers on your Mac.

To change the audio output back to your Mac's internal speakers, you can either Option-click on the speaker icon again and select internal speakers, or go back into System Preferences and change it there.

Editors' note: This post was originally published July 30, 2012. It has since been updated to reflect current operating systems.