iTunes sharing on a single Mac

Discussion in 'macOS' started by neliason, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. neliason macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    My wife currently has an iPhone and iPad that syncs to a MacBook Air that she no longer really uses. I have an iMac that I use daily. I also sync my iPhone and iPad to it. We mostly listen to music we own and want to share the same iTunes library so we can access the same music. So I was looking for any experience with sharing a Mac specifically as it relates to iTunes.

    From what I’ve read it shouldn’t be a problem to share an iTunes library. I will use mine as the library. I would simply need to relocate it to a shared location on the Mac and then setup iTunes for each account to use that library. If we do that then whatever content, ratings, and playlists will be the same for both users.

    So does anyone have any experience with sharing an iTunes library? Can both user accounts be open and running iTunes or when sharing a library can only one user run iTunes? Is there any problem with purchased music (we are set up with family sharing)? Is there another, better way to achieve what I want?

    Finally, I am pretty sure my library has all the music hers does. I added her music into mine years ago. Since then I don’t believe she has ripped any CDs. But, is there any simple way to see if my library is missing tracks she has?
  2. artnoi macrumors member


    Sep 11, 2018
    I don’t get your question - you’re on the same Mac trying to access one iTunes library, or you have 2 seperate iTunes libs on 2 computers and want to sync them, or what?

    iTunes libraries are portable and can be reloded, it is just a folder usually located at ~/Music/iTunes although you can rename it however you like before you reload the library. (For example, I have seperate AAC and ALAC libraries)

    To tell iTunes to load new library, press Option key on your keyboard while launching iTunes.

    If your wife’s Mac account on the same Mac partition can see your iTunes library on your disk, you can just tell iTunes to load any library it has access to.

    So if you DO really need indentical 2 libs on 2 users’ directories on ANY computers, you can just copy your library to the destination.

    In your case, I’d copy the lib to an external HD, and move it to her place (preferably at ~/Music/) before reloading the copied iTunes lib. This way your tracks should be 100% identical, although audio data in .m4a container can be corrupted (every data can corrupt - but AAC and ALAC dont have checksum capability)
  3. neliason thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    Now we are now on one iMac. I moved her account from her MacBook Air to my iMac. We each have our own iTunes libraries. My library should have all of her music. But my library has many more tracks. So I want to use my library.

    I think I wasn’t clear in my question. I think I want two different libraries but I want them to share the same media content, at least for the most part. It seems library should refer to the iTunes file that maintains a database of media. But I was using it to refer to content.

    I want to share content (my media) because I don’t want redundant media on my disk. I want different libraries so that she can make her own playlists, rate songs and otherwise not impact whatever I do in regards to metadata for the content.

    One suggestion I read was to copy one iTunes media collection (mine since it will be the source) to the Shared folder. I would then have my library point to this location. Likewise my wife would have a library that would point to this location. That sounds like what I want.

    One concern that occurred to me is that would, I assume, mean that if I included everything in the move I would have Voice Memos at this shared location. That isn’t what I want. So I think what I want to do is only have certain folders located here, like Music and Movies. So our individual libraries would point to these locations for music, movies and any other content that would be shared.

    I’m curious what advantages you see in an external drive? Personally my iMac drive has plenty of space for my music and I don’t have a need for my media to be portable. I like that I get a backup of my media via Time Machine. So the negatives for me with an external are needing another backup system and having an extra drive I rely on. I’m not sure I’d personally gain anything. But I’m interested in why you like that option.
  4. artnoi macrumors member


    Sep 11, 2018
    I just recommend it (ext HD) as a medium to transport your lib from internal drive in case you guys used different computers.

    So now, if you're on the same Mac, can your wife account see what's in your drive?

    If so, just launch iTunes while holding Option, and when it lets you choose library folder, just navigate to your lib folder in your drive.

    If your wife's Mac account cannot see your drive because it is encrypted or whatever, just copy your iTunes lib from your account (from /Users/yourname/Music/ to /Users/yourwife/Music/) but this will greatly create data redundancy.

    Added: This is where you should find other Accounts - from the root (/) of the file system.
    Or you can go into Finder and "Go To" /Users folder
    --- Post Merged, Nov 2, 2018 ---
    Ok I just had a time to read it whole until now: so if you want to have 2 libraries with same "synced" music source content and different configs like playlists etc?

    I guess it would be hard, maybe involving symlinking and so on. You can try linking 2 "Music" sub-folder within iTunes with rsync and see how it behaves. I never thought of this. Will try.

    Sorry I couldn't help much.

    Attached Files:

  5. neliason thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    Yeah, 2 libraries with the same (mostly) source content (music, movies). I had found this guide I linked below.

    The link option is one I considered. But I don't think you necessarily need to do that. If you don't choose to allow iTunes to keep your content organized then you could have your library just refer to media in the shared location. The only major issue I see is you have to add content to both libraries when you add. So I happened to add an album then it would only be reflected in my library. You could add that same content to her library by manually adding it to her iTunes. But, I don't see us doing that so I think we'd be fine.

    What I'd really like is some sort of ability for both of us to share a common library in our individual iTunes libraries. So both our music would really be a reference to a third iTunes library. If either added music it would then be reflected in both. But, I don't think iTunes is set up to work that way and there might be problems I haven't thought of.

    You have helped me to think through it, so thanks!
  6. !!! macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2013
    It's not really that hard to create a combined folder of media and two separate libraries. You'd need to copy all the files from each iTunes library to a single folder, then open up iTunes for each library, go to iTunes Settings > Advanced > and turn off "Copy files to iTunes Media folder..." and then you should be able to just drop the combined folder into iTunes, and it should be able to replace the references to each song with the different location. You could also just start with a fresh library if you don't mind loosing playlist and plays and such.

    Another way is to just merge the "iTunes Library/Music" directories into one directory and create aliases to each iTunes Library.
  7. neliason thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    I’m thinking I may like the link option better. The reason being I like keeping the copy to iTunes option. With a link solution I can keep that on since iTunes should treat the linked folder as part of iTunes. That also means I don’t have to update my source library’s music file locations to the new shared location.

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6 October 21, 2018