I found this article explaining the basics of iTunes Home Sharing. Basically, you can share your library among several computers BUT
- They have to be on the same local network.
- They have to use the same iTunes/Apple ID. Meaning, you can’t share if you use one login and your wife uses another
- Only purchases in the iTunes store (Music, Moives, TV Shows, Audiobooks and Applications) will automatically transfer from one computer to the other. Additionally, you can select one or more of these categories, but not all, if you prefer.
- My favorite feature: When looking at another computer’s library, you can just view items NOT on your computer. It’s near the lower left corner:
Let’s get started. Open iTunes on computer 1:
- Click iTunes Store > Sign in (near the upper right corner)
- Turn on home sharing if it isn’t already: Advanced Menu > Turn on Home Sharing
- Go to Edit > Preferences > Sharing Tab: Check “Look for Shared libraries”,” Share my library on local network”, optionally specify a password. Click Ok.
Repeat for computer 2
You should now see the other computer’s library under a “SHARED” heading in the left pane in iTunes. Click on the arrow to view the other computer’s library.
I was pretty psyched at first, until I learned it has some limitations. I guess I was hoping for more of a Sync, but this is not the case. Ratings, play counts, playlists, etc. are not copied. And you while you can copy files from machine to machine, it isn’t automatic unless you’ve purchased it from the iTunes store. Gag.
This may be fine for some, but if you have to use the same account in order to home share to work, it suggests that only 1 person’s library is involved, and if it’s only my library, then I want all the songs, playlists and ratings the same. So basically, here we have two options: Transfer or Sync. Let’s tackle transfer first.
If you haven’t heard of Dropbox, you’re missing out. It’s a GREAT, free application (for up to 2GB) that lets you sync, store and share files across multiple computers, iPod touch, iPhone and online. While this article is just talking about iTunes, it’s also great for collaborative efforts (sharing files with other people working on the same project), automatic backup and more. So
- Setup home sharing as outlined above
- Download and install dropbox on both machines.
- On computer 1, right click (or Macs Ctrl+Click) your playlist and select export. Save the file to dropbox.
- Go to computer 2: File > Library > Import Playlist… and select the file from dropbox.
A little clunky but it works. And if you want to transfer your ratings from one machine to the next, just create a playlist, let’s call it 3 Stars, and select all songs with three stars (View entire music library, click on the “Rating” column header, click on the first song rated 3 stars, press and hold shift, then click on the last song rated 3 starts, release shift, click and drag the list to your 3 star playlist), and repeat export/import process as outlined above.
Of course, if you want to bypass Dropbox, you could always export the playlist and email it to yourself or save it on a USB thumb drive. Dropbox just makes the process easier for you.
Not ideal for syncing, but for transfering, it works great. I’ll cover sync in another article. Good luck and let me know if you have any problems or questions.