There are many ways to share music between computers and user accounts with iTunes. The one you choose depends on with which devices and computers your are sharing. iTunes Match may be the ultimate method for a single person, but iTunes Home Sharing allows you to share music with other people whom have separate iTunes accounts.
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s episode let’s look at all the different ways that you can share music in iTunes with other users.
So there are five primary methods for sharing iTunes music news and media between different computers and devices in your home. First you could use iTunes Sharing, but you can also use a different function called iTunes Home Sharing. You could also share the entire media folder between users and computers, or you could share individual files between users and computers. You can also use iTunes Match. Which method you want to use depends on exactly what you want to do and who you want to share your media with.
So the simplest method is turn on iTunes Sharing. You go to iTunes preferences and in there you go to the Sharing tab and you turn on Share My Library. Now, what will happen then is other users in your same network, so other users in your house who have Sharing turned on will be able to see your iTunes library as long as you computer is on and iTunes is running. Then they could play, basically stream, over your network, any song in your library. So they are not actually getting the song, they are just temporarily able to stream it.
Similar to that, but it’s a actually a completely separate functionality, is something called Home Sharing. This is different. You go into preferences and go to Advance and you turn on Home Sharing. When you do they you have to enter in an Apple ID and other computers on the same network that use the same Apple ID for Home Sharing will see each other and be able to stream music just like regular Sharing. So for instance, I turn on Home Sharing on this Mac and also my Macbook air. I click on it here over on the Shared list over here and I can see music,movies, all this stuff. This is all stuff stored on my Macbook Air, not here. Now I can double click on anything to play it, stream it just like with Sharing. But in addition to that, the cool thing is that I could also select something and drag it into my regular library. So here is the Shared library down here, this is my local library here. I can copy the music from the Macbook Air which is what I’m viewing over to my local iTunes library. So this ability to copy items from other computers into your own iTunes library is the big difference between Home Sharing and regular Sharing. For some copy protected things you may actually need to go into Store and authorize this computer for that Apple ID. So you can actually have multiple authorizations. For instance, if you and your spouse both have you own Macs, you can authorize your account and your spouse’s account on your Mac and your account and your spouse’s account on their Mac, use Home Sharing to copy files back and forth. Since you’re both authorized to play things from both accounts everything should work.
In episode 631, I showed you how to take the iTunes media folder, which you can usually find; MacMost is my username here. You go down to music and go into iTunes and there is the media folder, and that is where all your stuff is stored. You can actually place that in a shared location. For instance, if I go into iTunes Preferences and in Preferences here I go to Advance, you see I’ve got this thing where I can set the location of the iTunes media folder, that’s the location I just showed you. I can change it to somewhere else, so I can move my entire media folder to a shared location, say a network drive or a share drive on my computer, and then other computers can actually use the same media folder. It is important too only do this if all the computers always have access to this is media folder at all times which isn’t usually the case unless you have a network drive. This is best done if you have a single individuals who has multiple Macs and you want to share that iTunes library across a user can’t and your own Mac or across multiple Macs that you ow, maybe a network drive. This isn’t really ideal for sharing something among other family members or people in your house.
Suppose you want to share music between users but you don’t have duplicate copies of it, you only have a copy in each iTunes library. What you could do then is turn off this key setting, Copy files to iTunes media folder when adding to library. So what happens here is you’ve got in the finder a media folder, like I showed you before, and in there you’ve got your albums and your music and that’s just yours. You can create in a shared location, like say under User Shared,a folder, any name you want, I just called it My Music and just put music here; these are just mp3 files. When you drag and drop these into iTunes, like so, what will happen is instead of them being copied into your library, the library will just link them at the share location. That is why it is important that the shared location be accessible at all time, some sort of share drive or a Mac that’s always on. Then multiple people can have access to the same music, but the actual mp3 files are in one location. But everybody’s got separate iTunes libraries they can organize and create playlists and do all that. In this case, if you download a new thing from iTunes it will put it into the iTunes media folder, because that is where purchases are put,so you have to move it manually out of the iTunes media folder into the shared location. Then users can drag and drop it into their copy of iTunes and it will remain in that spot for share.This is the key thing, a lot of people make the mistake of trying to share their entire music folder or their entire iTunes library with everyone. This leads to trouble because you’ve got multiple users trying to do things like maybe download apps, set up playlists, rate songs, do all sorts of organizational things. Instead you should focus on sharing the media and everybody having their own iTunes library. You’ve got the media in one place, turned off that Copy to iTunes media folder option and now people can share these mp3 files in their own library. The files are in one location but everybody has their own library that accesses them.
If you don’t have a network drive that’s always on or a Mac that is always on,so everybody can always connect to it, then Home Sharing is probably your best bet. It doesn’t mean having duplicate copies of the music on these computer but unless you have a massive iTunes library it probably doesn’t matter. In this way, you could travel with your Mac and have all your music available there.
If your goal is to share between Macs for one person, so all using the same Apple ID, then the ultimate solution now is iTunes Match. Not only do you have access across all your computers while at home but you have access while you are away since it’s all stored in the cloud, and you are not cluttering your hard drive with lots of music because it’s all in the cloud and you’re accessing it as you need it. Another great thing about iTunes Match is that it works on iOS devices so you can use it on your iPhone, on your iPad and of course as well as your Apple TV.
So plain iTunes Sharing works best for just quickly streaming a song from one match to the other on a temporary basis. iTunes Home Sharing works best if you’ve got multiple users on multiple computers and you want to be able to share files between them copying from one machine to the other. It also works great for streaming stuff to Apple Tv and iOS devices. Sharing an entire media folder works best if you have a network drive or a Mac that’s always on and always accessible to everybody and you want everybody to have exactly the same music in all of their iTunes libraries. Now just sharing the media files by themselves that works great if you also have something that’s always on and available, and you want everybody to have something different music in there. They can just basically pick and choose from a central location what music is in their library. Using iTunes Match works best if you’ve got just one user and you’ve got multiple devices and you want to have access to all your music everywhere even away from your network.
So there’s a look at five different ways to share your iTunes media. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.