We have already discussed how to share your iTunes music library with other Macs and iOS devices at home. However, for many this approach is a bit limited, since it doesn’t work with all devices and applications.
If this is your case, then you will be happy to learn that thanks to a great app named Airfoil for both the Mac and iOS devices, you now have a much more flexible alternative to stream audio between all your devices.
Let’s take a look at how the app works.
Before even starting though, make sure to download Airfoil from the App Store to your iPhone or other iOS device and to also download and install Airfoil on your Mac. In the end, you should have the application installed on every device you want to share audio with. The tool is available for Windows too. We’ll be taking up the Mac and iOS part of the equation in this post.
Important Note: In order to use Airfoil for Mac without limitations, you will need to first purchase the application ($25 from the developers’ website). Otherwise, Airfoil will overlay noise over any audio stream running continuously for more than 10 minutes.
Ready? Let’s get moving.
Streaming Audio from Your Mac to Your iOS Device
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When you unzip the Airfoil file you downloaded to your Mac, you will notice that it includes two different apps: Airfoil and Airfoil Speakers. The Airfoil app is used to transmit the audio, while the Airfoil Speaker app is used to turn your device into a receiver.
Step 1: To stream audio from your Mac to your iPhone, iOS device (iPhone in this case) or any other AirPlay enabled device, open the Airfoil application on your Mac and its counterpart on your iPhone or other iOS device. Once you do, your Mac will show up as a streaming device on your iPhone.
Step 2: Next, on Airfoil on your Mac, click on Select a Source to choose the application you want to stream audio from. It is a nice addition that not only can you stream from iTunes, but virtually from any other application on your Mac, including popular ones like Rdio and Spotify.
Also, your iPhone and all other devices capable of receiving audio will show up on the Airfoil window.
Cool Tip: If you have some speakers or a sound system that supports your iOS devices but that are not AirPlay enabled, they will still be able to play your streamed music with Airfoil, since it is your iOS device receiving the stream, not your speakers. Kiss goodbye to those expensive Airplay-enabled speakers!
Important Note: If you choose a video player like QuickTime, it will only stream its audio.
Step 3: Click on the music note next your iPhone’s icon on the Airfoil window to select your iPhone as the target device for streaming. Then start the app you chose to stream audio from, play any file and your iPhone will start playing the audio immediately.
Streaming Audio from Your iOS Device to Your Mac
To stream audio from your iPhone (or other Mac or computer with Airfoil on it as well) to your Mac, first open the Airfoil Speakers application on it. Then follow these steps:
Note: I couldn’t get my iPhone to be recognized by my Mac, so I used another Mac as a receiver of the audio stream. Almost all the steps are the same though.
Step 1: With Airfoil open on the device you will stream audio from, locate that device on the Airfoil Speakers window on your Mac. Once you do, click on the Receive button located to the right of that device (iPhone or other Mac).
Step 2: If you are streaming from another Mac, just repeat Step 3 above. If you are streaming from an iPhone, you just need to go to the audio app you want to stream audio from and then use the Airplay icon. There you will see your Mac as one of the options to stream audio to, as shown in the screenshot (from the app’s website) below.
And there you go. Overall, I found Airfoil to be an excellent application for sharing audio files. I especially liked the ability to stream audio even from your browser, which I’m sure will come in handy for some.
If you ever considered getting an Apple TV or an Airport Express for streaming audio at home, this set of apps completely eliminates the need for such devices. Better still, they do so at a fraction of their price.