I love the tight integration (AirPlay) between iPhone, iPad, iTunes and AppleTV that lets me stream any video or music I have to my tv. I use it all the time when someone sends me a link to a YouTube video through text message but I want watch the video on my TV instead of my iPhone’s screen. The only thing that sucks about this setup is I can’t use AirPlay to stream any video files that aren’t directly supported by iTunes without first re-encoding them with HandBrake. For a couple months now, on and off, I’ve been trying to find a better solution to this problem.
Enter AirFlick. I stumbled across this tool today and it solved all my problems, almost. I’ll spare you from the details but it doesn’t quite work on OS X Lion unless you can copy some files from a Snow Leopard install OR you install a second tool, AirVideo.
AirFlick lets you stream a video to your AppleTV like you would from your iPhone or iPad, and AirVideo takes care of all the heavy lifting; the on-the-fly re-encoding of your unsupported videos. The instructions to do so are detailed below. If you’re on Mac OS X Snow Leopard you may be able to do without AirVideo but I can’t confirm it since I am already on Lion:
2) Extract and copy them into your Applications folder
3) Run AirVideo
4) Click ‘Add Folder’ and select the folder with all your video content that you’d like to share. Add more folders as required.
5) Go to the Settings tab
6) Select the ‘Start at Login’ if you want to save yourself a step when using the app in the future
7) Select ‘Require Password’ and then click ‘Set Password’ and type in whatever password you want. Remember your password for later.
8) Run AirFlick
9) Select the AirVideo Access arrow in the upper right
10) In the slide-out window enter your password from step 7 (don’t worry about the PIN field, leave it blank) and hit Enter/Return
11) In the field below you should see the folders you shared in AirVideo. Browse for the file you want to stream, and click it
12) Your video should start playing automatically on your TV (make sure AppleTV is on). If you have more than 1 AppleTV then you can select it from the dropdown in the upper left of AirFlick.
And there you have it, streaming unsupported video formats to your AppleTV is now easier than ever. I can’t take 100% credit for these instructions since I had some help from a post over on Reddit but what I’ve detailed above fills in a lot of the blanks that that post left out. And a HUGE thank you to the creators of AirFlick and AirVideo for putting together a great solution. As a side-benefit, you can use AirVideo to stream content to your iPad and iPhone as well. You just need to install a client on each device, which you can find more info about on their site.
On a somewhat related note, as much of an Apple fan as I am I can’t quite recommend AppleTV as the best solution for streaming anything to your TV when something called Boxee exists. Boxee has networking support that’ll let it stream any file that is shared on your wifi network to your TV, and as an added benefit it also supports AirPlay so you don’t lose the benefits that AppleTV provide. And it even has a web browser for streaming anything else you can imagine off the web. And anything it can’t do someone has probably written an App to allow it to. The only thing that AppleTV wins in is the ability to rent movies and tv shows directly from iTunes. But if you’re comfortable doing this from your laptop instead you can always just stream it using AirPlay.