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Turn off Bluetooth to fix AirPlay mirroring bug in OS X

On some Mac systems, you can fix choppy AirPlay video by disabling Bluetooth. And if that's not an option, there's another possible fix.

AirPlay, Apple's technology for wirelessly streaming audio and video between devices, makes it convenient to watch or listen to media that's stored on one Mac on another Mac, an Apple TV, an audio system, or a similar device as long as it is on the same local network.

This technology involves minimal configuration, but some people report experiencing connectivity issues in which the image shows static, is choppy, or presents frozen images while the connection gets dropped. In particular this affects owners of the late-2013 MacBook Pro and Mac Pro systems when connecting using a 802.11b or g network.

Bluetooth settings in OS X
Click this button in the Bluetooth system preferences to turn off Bluetooth. Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET

In a recent knowledge base article, Apple acknowledged the issue with these systems when using an 802.11b/g network, and a fix for the problem will likely arrive in an update. For now Apple suggests managing the problem by turning off Bluetooth. To do this, you can access the Bluetooth menu, or open the Bluetooth system preferences and click the button to turn Bluetooth off.

With the Bluetooth radio disabled, you should see an improvement in AirPlay performance.

Unfortunately, this workaround may not be practical for all people, especially if you are using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Therefore, an alternative is to avoid the use of 802.11b or g networking.

The older and slower 802.11b/g speeds are only maintained in newer routers for compatibility with older devices, but it may be possible that your Mac is preferentially connecting via 802.11b/g and not using the faster options. If you have an 802.11n- or 802.11ac-capable network router and all devices on your network can use those faster speeds, then try configuring the router for the faster Wireless-N or AC connections only by disabling the 802.11b/g connectivity. The method will depend on the make and model of your router.

Even though this issue mainly affects the late-2013 Mac Pro and MacBook Pro, if you have another Mac model and are experiencing similar AirPlay problems, it's worth trying these configuration changes to see if they help the situation.

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