4 Replies Latest reply: Sep 14, 2008 8:25 AM by Emsullivan
Emsullivan Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I bought an Apple TV about 2 weeks and have been pretty happy with it. I have lots of TV shows saved on an external drive so as not to completely fill up my iMac. The external drive is connected to my iMac at all times.

Is there a way that I can sync Apple TV to this external storage device? Or watch TV shows from the external hard drive without moving them back to the iMac and then syncing with the Apple TV? Or is there a way I can leave TV shows on the Apple TV without also copying them to my iMac? My Apple TV is 160gb so there must be a way of using that memory without jamming up my iMac.

I've looked in the manual but haven't found an answer to this situation.

Thanks for any ideas or assistance.
Elizabeth

iMac, Mac OS X (10.5), MacBook and too many iPods!
  • Alley_Cat Level 6 Level 6 (18,680 points)
    What you can do:

    Sync or stream compatible files known to iTunes wherever they are in your system - main drive, external drive, or network drive - network drives don't awlays work well if the network struggles for some reason.

    iTunes MUST be open to stream or sync andy files to AppleTV - it has no idea where they are itself, iTunes relays data to AppleTV.

    What you can't do:

    Treat AppleTV as a backup device or extra storage.

    Depsite the 160GB the AppleTV is designed to hold irretrievable copies of media only - there is no straightforward or practical way to retrieve files from AppleTV if say needed on an iPod or iPhone or if the originals are lost. It's not designed either as a backup or primary storage. If you mostly stream (eg library much larger than the 40GB 160GB) the 160GB model does not confer much advantage but iTunes must be open. The 160GB is far more versatile though if you don't want to stream as you can sync so much more to it.

    I'll assume you understand the difference between syncing and streaming files for viewing, if you don't please say. The software actually tries to make things transparent by also listing non-synced content if iTunes is running which it automatically streams when needed.

    More to follow.


    AC
  • Alley_Cat Level 6 Level 6 (18,680 points)
    Emsullivan wrote:
    I bought an Apple TV about 2 weeks and have been pretty happy with it. I have lots of TV shows saved on an external drive so as not to completely fill up my iMac. The external drive is connected to my iMac at all times.


    Next thing to appreciate is how iTunes stores files.

    The iTunes library, usually called iTunes, contains various sub-folders and files.

    Some of these files contain the library database, artwork etc.

    There'll be an iTunes Music folder which contains the media copied into iTunes on import.

    There may be old library database backups, and a folder for iPhone apps if you have one.

    There may be other folders for other sorts of user.

    Is there a way that I can sync Apple TV to this external storage device?


    Not without the files being known to iTunes - all communication with AppleTV in terms of local network file transfers works through iTunes.

    Or watch TV shows from the external hard drive without moving them back to the iMac and then syncing with the Apple TV?


    Yes, this is possible.

    When you import a CD it will automatically store in the iTunes Music folder. You can see where file are by selecting Show in Finder after a right click on the entry in iTunes.

    If you import a file from somewhere other than CD however there is a Preference under Advanced>General Tab which decides if a copy is placed in the iTunes Music folder or not. If you deselect the copy option iTunes simply stores a reference to the file not the file itself.

    So, if you deselect copy you could just drag the files from the external drive onto an iTunes window and they'll be available for syncing/streaming but still live on the external drive.

    This is probably your simplest option. There is a keyboard shortcut which from memory is the option key which will temporarily not copy an added file when dragged to iTunes.

    Or is there a way I can leave TV shows on the Apple TV without also copying them to my iMac?


    Using the do not copy option in iTunes will achieve this with files on the external drive not on the iMac.

    There is no manual drag and drop type way of filling AppleTV with media which is a shame if you don't have the external drive.

    You can in fact delete the file in the itunes Music folder manually from Finder and this will not remove them from the database - iTunes will complain if you try to play them or stream them but if synced to AppleTv you can play them from there. I do not recommend this approach, and you must not delete the file entry from iTunes or it will then also delete from AppleTV.

    My Apple TV is 160gb so there must be a way of using that memory without jamming up my iMac.


    The 160GB is mainly indtended to allow you to have more stuff on AppleTV so that youd odn't need itunes running all the time, or perhaps ifyour network doesn't allow smooth steaming.

    It is not a backup and must not be regarded as external storage - many people assume it's storage and then lose their files when their computer's hard drive or external fails if they have no backup. Sorry to repeat this but it's important.

    I've looked in the manual but haven't found an answer to this situation.


    It's not particularly detailed is it.

    Hope that helps.

    There are some other options to consider too.

    AC
  • Alley_Cat Level 6 Level 6 (18,680 points)
    Other things to consider:

    As noted iTunes Music folder holds the media copies, it normally lives in the iTunes library folder under Music for your user.

    If you mix and match copying to the iTunes Music folder with referencing files elsewhere, your overall libarry can then be all over the place and you might inadvertently delete thing on exdternal drives needed by iTunes. The bonus is that a disc failure will only affect part of the library.

    Many of us though prefer to have the whole iTunes library on a dedicated external drive to keep things in one place (remember to back it up from time to time though).

    To create an alternate library from scratch, see:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1589

    this really is from scratch and will require adding all files to it, and synbcing AppleTV with a newe 5 digit code.

    Alternatively you could move the location of the iTunes Music folder only leaving the library main folder and other subfolderes where it is:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1449?viewlocale=en_US

    This would also be the route for consolidating a library of partly copied/partly referenced files.

    Either medthod will allow you to move the media files off the iMac onto an external drive.

    Hope that all helps!

    AC
  • Emsullivan Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thank you very much for your quick and comprehensive replies to my posting. I have to look through the referenced support pages carefully before making any changes. I do have 2 external storage devices - one with all the TV shows (I don't live in an English speaking country so I have become a bit addicted to the TV shows from iTunes) and one for Time Machine to back everything up. If I do make a mistake, then I hope that I am covered.

    Your reply was much more thorough than I had hoped. Thank you for taking the time to reply to me.

    Best regards
    Elizabeth