Need Advice - APPLE MEDIA CENTER - Simple Set Up

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by mccaffertee, Feb 23, 2015.

  1. mccaffertee macrumors newbie


    Aug 23, 2014
    Orlando, FL
    THE ISSUE - my wife and i both use Macbook Pro's and maintain identical iPhoto (80 GB) and iTunes (115 GB) libraries. We take a lot of pictures, buy a lot of music and stream a lot of movies. And its a pain to make sure the pics and music are on both computers.

    MY THOUGHTS - Put all the pictures and music in one place (free up HD space on the MacBooks) so we can access everything on our TV. In other words, a "stand-alone" media center so we don't need the laptops.

    I have an Apple TV3. Time Capsule (2 TB). TIVO Roamio. Denon AVR.

    THE QUESTION - How can i set this up to "simply work"?
    Do i need a Mac Mini to act as a server? I would think it would require a copy of iTunes and iPhoto wherever the data is located, correct? And what interface is used to manage this? Or, can I use the ATV3 to access the music and pics on the Time capsule? Or a separate HD?

    Anybody understand how to set this up? Suggestions and advice would be appreciated! I have searched, but there are so many complicated setups.

  2. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    As my understanding your are going to have to have a dedicated computer to run iTunes in order for the AppleTV to access your library. I have not tried it, but I do not believe that the AppleTV can passively access your library on a Time Capsule or anything else for that matter. It uses Home Sharing to authorize the content (even if you ripped it yourself), so there has to be an active service running....hence a real computer.

    You've got a couple choices.

    You can buy a Mini, and it can access content either from the Time Capsule or through a drive attached to USB (or Lightning Bolt). You setup iTunes and tell it to access from that drive.

    You can also buy a decent used Mac Pro (like a 3,1 or 4,1) for the price of a new Mini and it will have 4 internal full sized SATA hard drive bays, as well as room for two optical drives for ripping music and movies. You would then have lots of space and could even use Apple hard drive mirroring on the drives to safeguard against a hard drive failure. Should your library continue to grow a Mac Pro (not the newest cylinder one) can hold a lot of data internally, no external USB drives required.

    My server has Mavericks on it, which I really only did for future operability. Even with Lion on it, it ran iTunes superbly. Rock stable. Any issue I have had with a movie not working was the problem of either the AppleTV needing to be reset or the file itself was corrupted.

    I have both a Mini and a Mac Pro serving iTunes libraries in my house (1 music only and the other Movies/Tv Shows only).

    Turn on Home Sharing on iTunes and then turn it on in the Apple TV settings. Then in iTunes, under iTunes> Libraries or something like that set a Photo sharing folder. You will then be able to access it from AppleTV both from the Photos app as well as from the Screen Saver (a personal favorite of mine).
  3. mccaffertee thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 23, 2014
    Orlando, FL
    Hey, thanks for the is the BIGGER question....

    OK, i set up a Mac mini and have a HD attached with the iTunes, iPhotos and movies on the same HD...BUT...

    What controls this? In other words, will the ATV be the interface? I need to make it easy for the wife and kids to simply select music, pictures or movie and then the playlist of whats available.

    Again, appreciate your time!

  4. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    As far as accessing, yes AppleTV will do the play/pause/browse, etc. For actually uploading and updating files, that all has to be done at the Server. Playlists show up under the respective media type....actually movie or tv show playlists might show up under Music app, but they will work regardless.

    You can also use any iOS device to control the AppleTV. iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone. They can all take control of the AppleTV using the "Remote" app from Apple. This also allows you to have a keyboard when using the AppleTV instead of using the little silver remote.

    I use this sometimes to "cheat" to start music playing on my stereo without having to turn the TV on. Just use the iPhone to peruse to a playlist on the AppleTV and hit play and the AppleTV gladly starts sending audio to the receiver (HDMI) even though no TV is on. But when the TV is on The AppleTV will sense when the TV is turned off and will pause whatever it was playing.

    It's a very simple and easy system to use. It's pretty much the only thing we use to watch stuff in our house (outside of gaming consoles it's the only thing we use). We have 2 of them.
  5. mccaffertee thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 23, 2014
    Orlando, FL
    Again, thank you for your time. Last stupid question for now....

    I go to my ATV and see Music, Movies, TV Shows and etc....
    Where will MY playlists be located?? I don't see them? I understand i will have to share them once i set up, but i am curious where my stuff will show???
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    If you get a separate mac for a server, it will just be running iTunes the same way that you do on your MacBook Pro. Your Mini (or whatever you get) will show up on the sidebar under SHARED when you and your wife run iTunes on your MacBook Pros. Click on it and there will see a list of Music/Movies/TV Shows/Apps and Playlists. When you choose any of these, you're accessing the server. I believe there's a menu option on the Apple TV that you have to choose in order to see playlists though.

    You can simulate all of this right now by enabling sharing in iTunes on your MBP, then connecting to it from your wife's MBP.

    Accessing things from the Apple TV will work just the same too, you would choose the Mini under "Computers".

    You could also control the Mini with screen sharing using either your MBP or your wife's. And you can use file sharing to add movies and music to the iTunes library on the Mini. Just copy the files to the "Automatically add to iTunes" folder inside the Media folder.

    I have been using this setup since last summer with a Mini as a server, two apple TVs and a Macbook Air. Very happy with it, although I find that iTunes needs to be restarted every few weeks or things can get "strange". ;)
  7. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    If you are talking about the main home screen of the Apple TV, the Music and Movies apps are links to the iTunes Store and will not have your content, unless it's something you bought previously and want to stream from the cloud.

    There is a icon called Computers and once you have Home Sharing turned on, the server will show up in there. It will say something like "Steve's Library" or similar unless you setup iTunes on the computer to have a custom name. Once you click on that you can break it down by Music, Movies, TV Shows. Like I said, Playlists for movies and tv shows may show up under the Music part....I don't think there is a playlist section once you get under Movies or TV Shows. But they will work just the same. I have some setup for like Christmas movies that I can just turn the TV on and let it run for hours.

    Photos will show up under the Photo app that is on the main screen.

    You can also go into Settings > Main Menu and hide all the stuff you do not want to see (like MSNBC, History, WWF, VEVO, etc). You can also rerarrange what is displayed. Except the top bar, you cannot rearrange or hide the top 4. Because 3 of those are how they get you to spend money :) and the Computer one is pretty important for most people.

    I have the majority of stuff hidden so the home screen is very minimal.

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