Beamer – a better way to AirPlay video from your Mac to Apple TV? (Review)

by umOuch on November 14, 2012

Beamer app for Mac and Apple TV

The Apple TV 2, Apple TV 3, iPad 2-4, iPhone 4-5, and some iPod touches have all shared one thing in common over the past few years and that one thing is AirPlay. Well, as of this year Apple has decided to updated its latest Mac OS X, Mountain Lion build, with support for the mirroring functionality as well. There is no arguing that AirPlay is one of the strongest growing features in Apple’s multimedia arsenal. For those of us who have the distinct pleasure of utilizing AirPlay to the fullest, we know that it is something everyone needs in their lives. That said, there is a large segment of the globe that is unable to take advantage of these features.

What about those of us who haven’t done the upgrade to the newest Operating System? What about those of us who have upgraded, but want to use AirPlay while still working on your Mac? What about those of us who have an amazing surround sound system and discover that the Mac’s AirPlay functionality only supports stereo? Well… your answer just may be in a tool for Macs known only as Beamer!

Beamer App For Mac (by Tupil) – Straight From The Source

Now you can play any movie from your Mac on Apple TV.

Features include:

  • Drag, Drop, Watch

Drag any movie file onto Beamer and it will start streaming wirelessly to your TV with Apple TV instantly. No jailbreak required.

  • No Conversion Needed

Beamer plays all (OK, almost all) movie files, so you don’t need to convert your videos. AVI, MOV, MKV, MP4, WMV and FLV files will play just fine.

  • Wondering if it will support another File Format?

You can easily download the trial to test any obscure file format you may have. We strive to support as many movie files as possible. If you have a video that doesn’t work, we’d love to hear about it.


Beamer could not be any easier to use or set up! It is important to note that I say this because there is NO SETUP! Users need only download the app and turn on their Apple TV. Yes, that is it. Now, in order to play a movie from your Mac to your Apple TV 2, or 3, you need only drag the file from your Mac and drop it in the window that appears when opening the Beamer application. Within seconds your Apple TV will be streaming your movie.

There are many benefits to Beamer that Mountain Lion’s implementation of AirPlay Mirroring does not account for:

  1. With Beamer you can user your Apple TV Remote to control your movie. This includes all remote functionality such as Play, Pause, Skip, Fast-forward, and Rewind;
  2. With Beamer you can continue to work on your Mac, as the Beamer app is “just another window” on your desktop;
  3. With Beamer you can user your Apple TV’s complete audio setup. This means if you have a great surround sound system connected to your Apple TV, you can utilize it with your movie streaming;
  4. With Beamer you can download and test the app before deciding to make the purchase.
Additionally, Beamer now supports subtitles, both embedded and external (subtitle files). Supported formats are: SSA/ASS, SubRip, SubViewer and MicroDVD.



I did have a somewhat poor experience with the app in two situations.

  1. While the app handled all of the video formats I sent to it, I found that if I used larger .mkv files I wound up with very slow navigation.
    • As an example, when I played the 1080p release of BRAVE, by Pixar, I found that as I attempted to skip forward in the movie, my Apple TV would hang for a good 5 minutes or more while the App and the TV communicated.
  2. In one instance (and only one) I found an .MP4 formatted video that would only play in intervals of 10 seconds, or so, at a time. Now, the app handled 3 other movies formatted in the exact same way so we can be sure it is not entirely and issue with its ability to read codecs. That said, the video does play via my Mac and AirPlay using Mountain Lion.

While I did have these two problems it is important to note that I did all of my testing while working on a 3MB connection speed, over a DSL line. This is not very good. So the fact is, this issue was likely caused by my internet connect more than the Beamer app itself. I would go as far as saying if you have at least a 6MB connection, this app will be smooth as butter… spread over your Apple TV.


In the end this app did exactly what it said it would do. Though the team behind the Beamer app is not trying to reinvent the wheel, they did find a way to do AirPlay without Apple’s supported method. To quote their reasoning for not being available in the App Store:

“It was turned down for using undocumented Apple technology. We use an undocumented way to talk to the Apple TV with AirPlay. While this is unsupported by Apple, it works well in practice.”

That aside, I was not disappointed with this app at all. There are many players in this field right now, but Beamer is by far the easiest option for users who have video content on their hard drive, or other local storage, and want to be able to share it on their Apple Televisions. All in all, if your set up is missing any of the features we have mentioned in this review, you should seriously consider Beamer. After all it is free to download and try.

Beamer for Mac is sold at $15.00 and you can get it from here. A free trial (limited to the first
15 minutes of each video) is available from here.

Beamer requires a Mac (2007 and up), OS X 10.6+ (Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion) and Apple TV (2nd or 3rd generation).

  • Robin

    As Beamer plays via LAN, your 3MB internet connection has nothing to with this. It’s the application or wifi which cannot handle the video. My guess: try on cable and it’ll work 🙂

  • Pedro Taquelim

    Oh Yeah! It works great!

  • Nice guide, works well for me.

  • dan

    is there any different to AirParrot? I already have that. thanks, dan

  • Steve

    I’ve been using Beamer for a while now and have to say it’s amazing. Definitely worth the purchase.

    @dan – They are similar in some ways, but Beamer differs from AirParrot in that it streams videos already downloaded to your Mac directly to your AppleTV. AirParrot pushes your entire Mac’s screen (or a specific app’s window) to the AppleTV. I find Beamer is the best solution for my needs unless the video I want to watch is stuck in a browser window or I’m trying to demonstrate how to do something with my Mac on the TV.

  • UmOuch

    Not entirely true. I can stream this via over wifi using other tools and protocols, just fine, it is something unique to this tool. At least, in my opinion. 🙂

  • UmOuch

    Air parrot offers mirroring, Beamer does not.

  • Klemme

    How do you get surround sound to work? All my videos only play stereo and I know the files I have tried is either Dolby Digital or DTS!

  • Neil

    Works as advertised for me, all formats have been outstanding. This really makes the Apple TV worthwhile.

  • Tyler

    After getting excited by this review I went and downloaded Beamer to try to test out my new surround sound system. Then I read this snippet from the Beamer homepage:

    > Is surround sound supported?
    > Not yet. Currently all audio is converted to stereo, we plan to improve audio
    > support and quality in future versions.

    Womp womp.

  • dan

    thank you very much

  • Perhaps the best $15 I’ve spent lately 🙂

  • if you have a probem with the iphone go –

  • blkadder

    is there a way to start a movie file remotely? my mac is in a different room than my atv. with mirroring i can use vlc remote on my iphone, but since it’s not cached, mirrored movies don’t play well. can i use both mirroring and this app? this way i can use rowmote pro on my iphone to select and drop a file on the app.

  • Kelly

    I love this app when it’s working. For some reason, it often stops to buffer then it skips right to the end of the show. When I go to my computer to restart it, it says reconnecting to Apple TV….not sure why it keeps cutting off my connection.

  • I think Beamer has been updated since 5 months ago, it plays every video type I throw at it and works flawlessly. The $15 is worth the practically flawless experience I have had with this app.

    For those interested in an app that has a similar approach to streaming with DLNA supported TVs and Devices, I found this app today:

    There’s a Lite version of the app on their site for testing. Don’t get discouraged!
    I had it crash a couple times, but I played with the playing progress bar and then it just worked after. It’s early in its infancy but it could be Panasonic Viera TV… who knows?

  • Barbara Burch

    We have Beamer and it has never worked. We download the movie, I drag it from my desktop into Beamer and it just jumps right back to the desktop. I have yet to be able to watch a movie via Beamer. What am I doing wrong?

  • Dante

    I have problems with AVI files. They skip throughout the whole movie. I tried with several different avi files as well and the same thing continued to happen 🙁

  • Dante

    yes! I use splashtop 2 on my ipad which is a remote viewer app. Works great.

  • richardvalentinew

    I just find a step by step guide on how to convert MKV to Apple TV MP4 format

    also applies to convert other video formats like WMV, AVI, DivX, Xvid,
    RealMedia (rm), Flash format, GIF, SWF, FLV, ASF, MPG, 3GP, WebM, and
    etc to Apple TV supported format

  • Lina Stefen

    I know a simple and fast way to stream and play MKV on Apple TV, Apple TV 2 or the new Apple TV 3: Convert MKV to Apple TV as well as iTunes compatible video format to stream MKV to Apple TV from iTunes for playing MKV on ATV successfully here:

  • Josue Alexander

    I seem unable to purchase the app since i have snow leopard. Theres is a previous version available to donwload, however it is noted that you cannot longer buy a license for it. so whats the point in offering the download. Is there a way for snow leopard users to use this app?

  • Oliver ‘soulwarrior’ Gehrmann

    Beamer is great when it works. Sometimes a file won’t play even though it worked the day before. I have to restart Beamer, or reconnect to my network or restart my Apple TV. It’s often something different or the app requires me to do several of the above.

    It is super frustrating when this happens; it would be half as painful if I’d know for sure what the problem is…

    Other than that, great, great, great app. I don’t want to miss it, I just want to miss this erratic behavior. ^^

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