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Boyd01

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Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
I have used 3 different Mini's over the years as iTunes servers. They all ran 24/7 with no sleep and the disks never spinning down. When I want to watch something, I don't want to wait for disks to spin up. ;)

On the Apple TV, go to the Computers icon, then select your server. From that point on, the only content that you will see will be local files on that machine (the AppleTV doesn't know anything about your NAS, it's functionally the same as a disk on the server).

You can easily try this out without buying anything. Just put some movies in iTunes on any Mac (you probably already have some) and turn on home sharing. You will then have an iTunes server, it's just that simple. You should be able to select it through the Computers icon on your AppleTV.

As far as using the AppleTV app (as opposed to "computers"), I am under the impression that it will stream your iTunes purchases from Apple's servers directly. I don't think it will access them on a local server, but I really don't know for sure. I just upgraded from an AppleTV 3, and there are a number of things that still confuse me about the new(er) models. :)
 

mpainesyd

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2008
672
162
Sydney, Australia
Thx Boyd01. Maybe I should clarify: my vision for this setup is that with a Mac having the Store and iTunes and its Library on my Synology NAS, I want to download HD copies of my Apple Store purchases, and unless the movie is 4K I would likely use not the cloud but instead the Synology.
As I explained at the start of this thread, the iTunes media library is (best) located on the Mac. The actual video files can be stored on the NAS and simply linked to the media library - they don't take up space on the Mac. This works for iTunes purchases as well as ripped videos.
 

laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
82
5
I have used 3 different Mini's over the years as iTunes servers...
Thanks for telling!

You can easily try this out without buying anything. Just put some movies in iTunes on any Mac (you probably already have some) and turn on home sharing. You will then have an iTunes server, it's just that simple. You should be able to select it through the Computers icon on your AppleTV.
You're right, I should fiddle with wifey's MacBook a little. I used to have iTunes on this Windows PC but ditched it...

As I explained at the start of this thread, the iTunes media library is (best) located on the Mac. The actual video files can be stored on the NAS and simply linked to the media library - they don't take up space on the Mac. This works for iTunes purchases as well as ripped videos.
Thank you for reminding me! Lemme tell ya when you surf on the media library and moving-or-relocating it you get a lot of confusing takes on this. Iirc too Synology has an "iTunes server" which turns out is misleading in the sense that I think it means just music, not video.
 

GLS

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2010
446
316
I'm echoing what others here have done, but I've done this for going on 10 years now. I've replaced the Mac Mini with a newer one when the logic board died, and I've upgraded from a USB drive to my current 32TB NAS, but the process is the same:

Mac Mini runs itunes
NAS has a share (named itunes)
In the preferences in iTunes on the Mac Mini, point the library to the mounted NAS share

Then make sure home sharing is all configured in iTunes, etc. Also, make sure your Mac Mini is networked using ethernet, not wifi. Helps with performance.

The only time we have an issue is if for some reason the NAS share is not mounted and iTunes is running. You get a generic message on the Apple TV's about content not available. Mount the share, close iTunes, start it back up, make sure it is pointing at the share and all is well.

We have 5 Apple TV's in the house, and we can stream from this single library to all 5 at the same time, if we wanted.
 
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laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
82
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Thanks GLS! A question about performance. Can you tell me/do you know where the Mac Mini bottlenecks might be? I have flexibility re: placement, but not all of my house is networked via Ethernet. I could, for example, put my Mini and NAS in the same rack with my ATV4K. Or I could put my Mini and NAS in another location but that would mean WiFi to ATV4K.

Or could you just confirm what I mentioned above: I thought I read that once the ATV4K communicated with the Mini/iTunes, that it streamed directly from the NAS i.e. the Mini is not in the way...?

p.s. would love an excuse to get a Mac Pro (not the new one, the cylinder I mean) but you agree GLS that is crazy for just itunes yes?
 

GLS

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2010
446
316
Thanks GLS! A question about performance. Can you tell me/do you know where the Mac Mini bottlenecks might be? I have flexibility re: placement, but not all of my house is networked via Ethernet. I could, for example, put my Mini and NAS in the same rack with my ATV4K. Or I could put my Mini and NAS in another location but that would mean WiFi to ATV4K.

Or could you just confirm what I mentioned above: I thought I read that once the ATV4K communicated with the Mini/iTunes, that it streamed directly from the NAS i.e. the Mini is not in the way...?

p.s. would love an excuse to get a Mac Pro (not the new one, the cylinder I mean) but you agree GLS that is crazy for just itunes yes?

For this purpose, the bottleneck would be networking, if you were using wifi on the mini. That's why I advised against it. I was using a 2009 mini with 4 gb ram for my mini until it died. Now, I'm using a 2012 mini in it's place. As for our Apple TV's, all of them are using wireless and have no issues with playback.

Itunes on the Mini is sharing a library; the only difference in this scenario is where the media is stored (NAS). So, you want your NAS to be using ethernet as well instead of wifi (if there is even such a thing as a wifi NAS).

A Mac Pro of even 2008 would be too much overkill for this, much less a trash can Mac Pro. Really, all you are doing here is sharing a media file. A proper functioning network environment is more important to all this than the individual performance of a Mac Mini or whatever you are using to share the media.

As for your other question, once the movie starts streaming it is coming from the NAS, not the Mac Mini.
 
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laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
82
5
Thank you. Whatever I do then, I will make certain the Mac is ethernet to NAS. I had to press you on this because my network is a bit tricky i.e. my router uses a 5GHz WiFi link to a Bridge, and I also have between the router and my HT rack a PLC pair.

I think I will buy a newer Mac Mini if only to stay current with wife's 2018 MacBook. I have run Snow Leopard in a Virtual Machine on my PC but as the years go by I have decided I need to simplify, simplify, simplify (and am doing a lousy job of that!).
 

mpainesyd

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2008
672
162
Sydney, Australia
Why not start more simply w/ Synology's Video Station solution? You can also run Plex right on the Synology.

If you decide to get a mini, while I run Plex on mine, it is pretty complex and I've found that Air Video HD works really well, with much less complexity.
But I understand none of these will run iTunes purchases due to DRM - you need a Mac, iTunes and Homesharing to watch these off-line.
I agree Air Video HD (a server running on the Mac) works well For non-Apple video, although the ATV app is a bit clunky.
 

x-evil-x

macrumors 603
Jul 13, 2008
5,476
3,146
just get an Nvidia shield with their plex server and connect your drives to that. You'll gain another streaming box with capabilities and have a plex server that you can use on your appletv.
I use infuse for all my stuff also(even though the shield has audio passthrough). Sometimes ill use the Shield but I feel the picture on apple is better than on the shield.
Thats 150$ for a shield instead of worrying about running your computer all the time the shield's USB ports stay active when the system sleeps.
Also, infuse direct plays my media and I have no issues playing my 30-50gig 4k rips in all their glory.
 
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laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
82
5
OK so almost two years later I have a brand-spanking-new Mac mini and would like to set it up and have a possibly dumb question to ask: Given that I intend to use it to manage my movie library, what should I assert as an Apple ID for it? I don't want to use my AppleID for my iPhone and iPad as I've no interest to share Contacts and Photos and whatnot via the iCloud. Wife has her own Apple ID, and we share a 3rd Apple ID which is strictly for the app store (and movies I've bought). So I would use this "store ID" for the iTunes store ID of the Mac mini, but ... it also wants one for the machine itself.

Do I just set-up a fourth ID, i.e. "ourMacMini" or something? What have you guys done?

me
wife
store
mini?
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
6,342
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
I just have one Apple ID, I use it on all my Apple Devices. My 2014 Mini is the iTunes server, so it needs that ID in order to play all my purchased content. I simply disabled everything else (e-mail, contacts, Messages) because it's a server and needs none of those things.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,770
983
just get an Nvidia shield with their plex server and connect your drives to that. You'll gain another streaming box with capabilities and have a plex server that you can use on your appletv.
I use infuse for all my stuff also(even though the shield has audio passthrough). Sometimes ill use the Shield but I feel the picture on apple is better than on the shield.
Thats 150$ for a shield instead of worrying about running your computer all the time the shield's USB ports stay active when the system sleeps.
Also, infuse direct plays my media and I have no issues playing my 30-50gig 4k rips in all their glory.
I've used long ago several PC media boxes (home built) and then Mac Mini and the Nvidia Shield for 4k does extremely well and can upscale blue ray to 4k that looks often impressive. While I cannot play Apple's movie offerings, I can play a larger amount of movies and such from various sources ranging from Google, Vudu, Amazon and yes, movies I have stored on a NAS, a drive internal or external on my Mini (shared), and more. I have one Nvidia Shield TV hooked to the same monitor as my Mac Mini for desktop watching of various types that far exceed the ability of the Mac.
 

laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
82
5
I just have one Apple ID, I use it on all my Apple Devices. My 2014 Mini is the iTunes server, so it needs that ID in order to play all my purchased content. I simply disabled everything else (e-mail, contacts, Messages) because it's a server and needs none of those things.
Wife has a MacBook but I've not touched it very often. I didn't know you could disable those things TBH.

I guess unless I hear other opinions here I will use our Apple ID for the store.
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
6,342
3,186
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I just went through all the preferences and turned off things like iMessage, did not setup any e-mail, turned off icloud, disabled a bunch of notifications, etc.. It was kind of a pain actually. o_O

My Mini is running Mojave, so some of these settings may have changed in newer versions of MacOS - especially since I am using iTunes.
 

Soondae

macrumors regular
May 22, 2012
173
56
Hua Hin, Thailand
I have been using MakeMKV to convert my HD-DVD and Blu-ray movie collection for storing on my Synology NAS, and at the same time have begun to purchase movies from the Apple Store, where eventually I would like to Download copies of those and keep them on my NAS. For playback I bought the lifetime Infuse player. Obviously the ATV4K will stream movies from my Apple account online. But to play the movies I have on the Synology I would have to have a Mac (a headless mini I think is what I want) running iTunes all the time, with its library on the NAS, is that right?

Can someone confirm--can I download HD copies of my Apple-purchased movies to my NAS, and then, together with my converted Blu-rays play everything on the Apple TV? I'd like to be able to do that because my ISP is not completely trustworthy.
You don't need the Mini, so long as the ATV4K and Synology NAS are on the same network, the Infuse App will connect to the NAS and your whole library will be available. It's too simple. Also the Synology ATV media APP works really well but doesn't support all the various codecs that Infuse supports.
 

laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
82
5
You don't need the Mini, so long as the ATV4K and Synology NAS are on the same network, the Infuse App will connect to the NAS and your whole library will be available. It's too simple. Also the Synology ATV media APP works really well but doesn't support all the various codecs that Infuse supports.
>You don't need the Mini...

Now he tells me!

;)

My head hasn't gotten completely back-into this yet after 2yrs, but it seems that where I started was needing to run iTunes with the Apple-purchased downloads stored under it. Yes I could use iTunes on a PC for that but... well it's Apple so an excuse to get a Mini.

There's no way (that I know of anyway) to download an Apple-purchased movie on my iPhone or iPad and then get it into the DiskStation for playback from ATV.

EDIT: OK so I downloaded an Apple-purchased TV episode to my iPad and I see no way to get it from there to my DiskStation. Further, I have a PC program from DigiDNA called iMazing which allows all manner of transfers to/from iGizmos, including "Import from Folder" and "Export to Folder" and my downloaded episode (along with all my purchased stuff) appears there but is "Not transferable" which I expect is all about DRM.
 
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Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
6,342
3,186
New Jersey Pine Barrens
Yeah, I think you need to add them to your library on a Mac, then share them on your LAN (or use iTunes home sharing on Mojave or Windows). AFAIK, there are no other ways to get Apple-purchased videos on the Apple TV, aside from streaming them from Apple's cloud.
 

jeff051177

macrumors member
Nov 17, 2011
59
60
I think you are making this too complicated.
If you want to use locally stored media - the apple ecosystem is perhaps the worst for this (by design).

As far as I'm aware, a Synology NAS plus Plex or infuse seems to be acknowledged as the best way to achieve this. There are lots of discussions on Plex vs inFuse - personally I run Plex sever on my NAS, and run the client on my Apple TV - works great for me. I chose Plex over infuse because I prefer the UI of Plex, particularly for TV shows and music, but infuse has it's own pros..... horses for courses.

I digitised my media a long time ago and I persevered using the "computers" app for ages - but it got to the point that it was easier for me to remove the iTunes DRM from my (historical and new) purchased content and use Plex, than continue using the apple native solution that was becoming progressively worse. I think this was true in 2020, and I think it's more true in 2022.
 
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McScooby

macrumors 65816
Oct 15, 2005
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The Paps of Glenn Close, Scotland.
>You don't need the Mini...

Now he tells me!

;)

My head hasn't gotten completely back-into this yet after 2yrs, but it seems that where I started was needing to run iTunes with the Apple-purchased downloads stored under it. Yes I could use iTunes on a PC for that but... well it's Apple so an excuse to get a Mini.

There's no way (that I know of anyway) to download an Apple-purchased movie on my iPhone or iPad and then get it into the DiskStation for playback from ATV.

EDIT: OK so I downloaded an Apple-purchased TV episode to my iPad and I see no way to get it from there to my DiskStation. Further, I have a PC program from DigiDNA called iMazing which allows all manner of transfers to/from iGizmos, including "Import from Folder" and "Export to Folder" and my downloaded episode (along with all my purchased stuff) appears there but is "Not transferable" which I expect is all about DRM.
As others have said, you don't necessarily need a mini but I've found it makes life easier as the mini is way more powerful than the alternatives & easier to upgrade when needed, although YMMV.

I have zip on my mini, no apple id nothing (other than part of the setup) as my mini's on 24/7 and available to the world.

Plex server is on the mini (which reads the connected DAS/NAS) & on each of the AppleTVs I'm logged into iTunes, so when you buy on one device they're available on all (aside from the mini). I've also got a hd homerun tuner which delivers live tv fed from the aerial to all devices via Plex.

The only reasons for downloading your original Apple content would be storage in case the content ever gets pulled from the store. 4K ain't available on d/l so can only be streamed and the Apple bought media files stored on the NAS (HD quality only), cannot be played directly from there without using iTunes due to DRM, but pointless worrying about that unless you have to watch your ISP bandwidth.
 
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laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
82
5
...it was easier for me to remove the iTunes DRM from my (historical and new) purchased content and use Plex, than continue using the apple native solution...

And you did that HOW? Never mind, I really don't think I need to know.
 

laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
82
5
...The only reasons for downloading your original Apple content would be storage in case the content ever gets pulled from the store...

Or I'm having ISP problems. We've been over this already I think.

Dunno how many responders we've had in here, but I'm almost willing to bet that no two are skinning this cat in precisely the same way.
 
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