How to use Zoom or FaceTime with an Apple TV (or any TV)

Speaking for myself and seemingly everyone I know, we are all on Zoom, FaceTime, Teams, Hangouts, Meet, Webex, or some other videoconferencing tool all the time, whether for paid work, volunteering and nonprofit involvement, the PTA, or socializing and family conversation.

Unless you’ve got an iMac and it’s set up in the right place, you might find yourself squinting to see everyone on screen—or leaning in or balancing a laptop on your lap. It’s distracting for you and anyone with whom you’re conversing.

There’s a better way, if you have an Apple TV or a newer TV that supports video streaming over AirPlay 2: you can use AirPlay or AirPlay 2 to stream your Mac, iPhone, or iPad’s screen to the TV. If you purchase an HDMI adapter for a Mac or a mobile device, you can instead hardwire yourself into any TV with an spare HDMI port.

Set up your device relative to the TV set

If you’re using the built-in webcam in your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, you need to set it up in such a way that you’re looking at least mostly in the direction of its camera. It’s often hard to place a devices safely above a TV set, so you might want to position it on a surface just in front of the TV.

Looking past the device, to other people it looks like you’re looking into the camera—and at them—instead of off to the side.

mac911 apple tv with camera IDG

Positioning the device with the camera in front of the TV helps you look in the right place.

I have a GorillaPod flexible tripod and a Glif iPhone camera mount that I use for photography, and they work perfectly well for setting up my iPhone on a small table in front of the TV. Small tripods or stands for iPhones and iPads are readily available at almost any price. With a laptop, a small table or a few books can put it in position, since you can angle the lid with the camera to your best advantage.

With a laptop, you could also purchase an external webcam for $30 to $80 with a clip or stand. Attach the webcam to the top of the TV set or at least right near it, making sure you have a long enough run of USB cable to reach your computer.

Stream via AirPlay

You can send you video and audio output for your entire device over AirPlay.