1580 Views 5 Replies Latest reply: Dec 28, 2007 4:13 PM by sathomasga
It is unclear but I think your question is "What is the best way to copy the other iTunes libraries to the external hard drive?"
I would temporarily connect the external hard drive to the Mac which contains the iTunes library you want to share and then follow the directions in KB 301748, iTunes for Mac: Moving your iTunes Music folder.
I believe that the original contents will remain on the external hard drive, but before doing this I would backup the original contents of the external hard drive.
Repeat for each Mac with a library you want to copy.
My question is:
What is the best/safest way to share itunes libraries between 4 computers on a hard drive attached to an airport extreme?
So - what I want to end up with is ONE library that all four computers on the network point to and access.
My concern is that I am not at all familiar with how the itunes libraries work and how they need to be configured in order to make this happen and I need very basic level instructions on how to do this (do I just copy EVERYONE'S libraries to the same file? What would be the best way to back up the files before doing this? Would it be better to just store/back-up the files on the hard drive and have each family member access it and essentially 'upload' songs/albums to their individual computer libraries as they need/want? If this is the case, how would I do that? )
Is that more clear? Maybe I do not know enough to even ask the question clearly!
1. Are you willing to rebuild everyone's playlists after the consolidation? (If so, you'll have an easier time).
2. Do you have multiple iTunes accounts (or, more importantly, have you purchased music under different iTunes accounts)? If so, you might be hosed. I don't know if you can authorize a single computer for multiple accounts. But maybe it is possible.
If you're okay with 1 and 2, then go to each of the machines and copy all the music files to the airport disk. The files are in the Music/iTunes/ folder of your home directory. (My Music/iTunes in the case of Windows.) Be careful copying folders. With OS X, when you copy a folder over an existing folder with the same name, the new folder replaces the old folder. In Windows, the new folder and old folder are merged. So if computer 1 has Eagles/Hotel California and Mac 2 has Eagles/Long Run, you're going to have to copy Long Run by itself to avoid deleting Hotel California. (If you've got one Mac and three PCs, start with the Mac and you'll be okay.) If that's going to cause you a lot of grief, you might want to look at some shareware folder synchronizing programs like ChronoSync.
Once you've got all the music copied to the Airport disk, go to the individual machines and delete all the Music files from iTunes. Then go to the Advanced tab for iTunes preferences and make sure both of the following checkboxes are NOT checked: "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library."
Now select File -> Add to Library from the iTunes menu. Point the dialog box at the Airport disk and you're done.
I think this may work - I am going to try it today. We are a mac-only family (well, my husband has a PC for work, but we try not to acknowledge it) and we have three macbooks and a powerbook - all with the same family itunes account - (I could never figure out how to do separate ones, which makes gift cards and credit on the itunes account a pain, but we all like each other so it all works out!)
I want to back everybody up first, and I am not sure the best way to do this - maybe using one of the ipods as a hard drive... and then transfer the data to the airport disk.
If you want to backup the content, you can copy the Music/iTunes folder to a backup location. (Actually, if you use the technique above, you can keep the copy in Music/iTunes as the backup; the new content will be on your Airport disk.)
If you want to backup the playlists and such, use the File->Export menu selection in iTunes.
Forgot to mention, that whenever you add new music to the Airport disk, all of the computers will have to do the File->Add to Library bit in iTunes. It's kind of a pain, and I'm sure there's an applescript just waiting to automate the process, but I haven't been motivated enough to write it. (The good news is that iTunes remembers the previous location each time you add to iTunes, so it's just three mouse clicks.)
BTW, there is another approach you might consider. If you have one computer that's up and running all the time, you could make it a sort of master iTunes and then just share it's library.
And in case it helps anyone out, I can describe how our household is set up. I'm the main iTunes user (and purchaser), so my iBook is the primary computer which we use to purchase and store main copies of all the content. We also have a family iMac that everyone uses; it's got an external disk that's used for iTunes (one partition) and Time Machine (another partition). ChronoSync is set up to automatically sync my iBook's iTunes library to the iMac every night at 3:00am. That still means that all the family members have to File->Add to Library on the iMac every now and then to keep their iTunes library up-to-date with the latest content. My wife keeps her iMac account open all the time (via Fast User Switching) with iTunes running and her library shared. If she wants to access the content from her iBook, she just uses the shared library feature in iTunes to access the iMac.