Apple has a pretty crappy solution for this. In fact with iTunes 9 it is easier to share music between several home computers than it is on one computer with several users. Basic instructions are here:
The key on this setup is to select which user is going to be the main user and put the Music Folder in their Public folder. Then in that user's iTunes Preferences, and only that user, under Advanced check "Copy files to iTunes Media...". In all other user accounts this should be unchecked. You can use this to suck in all the music that is located in individual user folders into the main user public folder setup above.
Now here's two sucky parts about this solution:
1. Manual Syncing
You'd like everyone to have all the music in their library, right? Who wouldn't. But unfortunately there is no automatic syncing or updating of each user's library when 1 user adds a song. Everyone in the family needs to just tell everyone else what songs they recently added, then each user needs to manual select "Add to Library..." and then find those songs and add them. Don't make the mistake of just re-adding the entire Music Folder each time. The best solution I've found here is to create a Smart Search for files ending in .m or .m4 or etc... When you click "Add to Library" select that Smart Search and then sort by date modified. Only select the songs newer than the last date you added a song to your library. I don't think this is foolproof but it is the best bandaid to a terrible situation I've come up with.
2. iTunes Store Permissions
If multiple users buy stuff from the iTunes store you are going to find that the permissions on the shared public Music Folder get messed up and will only let one user download store purchases. When this happens you need to manually set the Music Folder from that user's login to allow Read/Write access to the Music Folder. You'll find yourself doing this pretty regularly.
It's unbelievable to me that Apple hasn't fixed these long standing deficiencies, and now even has Home Sharing, and still hasn't fixed sharing on one computer.
I am a little confused about the Manual Syncing and iTunes Store Permissions comments.
I am sharing an iTunes library with three users on one Mac. I did it with a shared folder method as you mentioned.
Each time a song is added (or TV show or movie) it shows up in all libraries. All playlists show up in all libraries as well so that is a little bit of a problem with too many playlists so we have playlist folders for each user.
I changed permissions on the top folder of this shared library when it was created and all new additions are not having any of the issues you mention.
How are you able to keep all users synced. I just got a new mac and did what was suggested with the share folder. However, when I add stuff in one users library, it doesn't show up in the other users library. Also, on my second user, if I try to add from her library it says that she doesn't have permission to do so. I checked to make sure that she has permission and the folder says "read & write". Any suggestions.
To share an iTunes library among multiple users, put the iTunes library in /Users/Shared/Music/iTunes, and for each user, make an alias from ~/Music/iTunes to /Users/Shared/Music/iTunes. Set permissions on /Users/Shared/Music/iTunes (and everything inside it) to give each user read and write permissions, and you're all set. My wife have been sharing our iTunes library this way since 2005, without a hitch.
Also, you'll have to import the contents of one library into the other, to make one big library, which is an extra step, but there's no way to avoid this now that you have two libraries.
Here are step by step instructions:
1. Figure out which library is larger, and start with that one. I'm going to guess it's Mom's. Log in as Mom.
2. In the Finder, make a folder called /Users/Shared/Music.
3. Move the folder ~/Music/iTunes (that's your iTunes library) to /Users/Shared/Music/iTunes.
4. Select the folder /Users/Shared/Music/iTunes, and make an alias of that folder. (In the Finder, click on File->Make Alias.) The alias will be called "/Users/Shared/Music/iTunes alias".
5. Move "/Users/Shared/Music/iTunes alias" to "~/Music/iTunes alias". Rename the alias to ~/Music/iTunes.
6. At this point, check your work: start iTunes while still logged in as Mom. Mom should see her iTunes library, just as before, as if it had never been moved.
7. While still logged in as Mom, go to /Users/Shared, select the Music folder, and give Mom and Dad read and write permissions on that folder and all its contents.
8. Log out as Mom, and log in as Dad. In the Finder, move Dad's iTunes library from ~/Music/iTunes to the Desktop.
9. As Dad, repeat steps 4 and 5.
10. Now Dad should check his work, by starting iTunes. Dad should now see Mom's library instead of his own.
Congratulations! You now have a shared library. You not only share content, but all playlists, artwork, etc. As Dad, create a playlist, fill it with romantic music, and call the playlist "To My Beautiful Wife". Log out as Dad, and log in as Mom, and Mom will see the same playlist. Crack open a bottle of champagne.
But Dad's content is still in ~/Desktop/iTunes. You'll have to add it to your shared libary:
11. Log in as Dad, and in iTunes, turn on the preference iTunes->Preferences->Advanced->Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library.
12. Still in iTunes, choose File->Add to Library and start adding all the files in ~/Desktop/iTunes. They'll be copied from Dad's desktop into the shared library. Try importing a couple of tracks, and log in as Mom and confirm that both Mom and Dad see the imported content. (I myself have never done this, so I can't give you much guidance about importing, since I started our iTunes library as a single shared library from the very beginning. For all you know, you can just select every folder in ~/Desktop/iTunes and import everything at once. I would imagine you might have to futz around re-organizing everything nicely once you've imported all Dad's stuff, but once that's done, it's done.) Once everything is imported you can trash ~/Desktop/iTunes.
That's it. Any content you add will be instantly available to both users without having to sync or copy anything ever, because both users are always looking at the same library. (If one user deletes something it's gone for both users too, so be careful!) The only trouble you could possibly have are permissions issues, depending on how your system and users are set up. On my computer, after setting it up once, we never had to think about it again. However, we set up a separate account to be the administrator, and neither my wife or I have admin privileges. Since Mom is an administrator and Dad is not, you might find that OS X treats you differently when you create new files in your library. You'll have to try it and see. Good luck!
Message was edited by: dgauthier
Good Trick of the aliases. but if Mom and Dad share the Mac, but kids have their own... I would move the library to a disk image rather than just the share folder, as with iPhoto.
Like this, if a user attempts to open the iTunes library while in use by another local user, the disk image will not mount, saves potential dual access issues.
Thanks for the idea.
Had iTunes on a PC till now, all could see the same music, and all the iPhones/iPods had the same music synced.
Have now just purchased my first Mac, a 27" iMac. I decided to start from scratch, and that way use the iTunes plus format to get better quality, although that means adding all the CD's again.
I have managed to get iTunes working, but without using aliases. I have created my iTunes in Users/Shared/Music/iTunes, and then created the new iTunes for the other users pointing to the same folder. I had to give read/write permissions, which I think I have done right.
When either of the three adds a CD, which is the way we put music into iTunes, so far anyway, it falls into the shared folder and is automatically added to that users library. Other users can then add it manually if they want. Bit slow, but does mean we can choose whether we want to have the new CD on our library - I have no interest on some of the CD's my daughter has added - and she probably isn't interested in all our music either.
We each have an iPhone or iPod, but have yet to sync them, waiting till we have most of our music back on iTunes. When we first sync, each syncing their iPod/iPhone to their own account, I expect that we will each have our own music selection, correct?
How can I get my wife and daughter to see the Album Artwork without having an iTunes account?
I like this idea however I need some help with the file structures of iTunes. My iTunes is not in it's original location so I don't know whether to move just the music files or the file containing the files and the library files.
When I follow the steps of setting up the aliases, the library doesn't just appear in iTunes. I still have to "add it" to the library. I don't feel like I am sharing a library, more like creating duplicate ones. I really like the idea of being able to rip a CD to one user's account and have it automatically show up in the other one.
Can you tell me specifically where the library files need to be and how to use the folder "automatically add to iTunes?"
This is a very useful routine but it also works by simply changing the permissions of the main music folder (Mom) to allow access of all users who need to use it. The disadvantage I have found with keeping it in shared is it slightly complicates backup and restore with e.g. time machine. As far as I can tell, if you get a new mac and use the migration assistant then it does not offer the option of transferring from shared, only home folders. Sure it's easy to keep a specific backup of the shared folder but it's nice not to have to think about it.
The above also works for the photo library in case anyone was wondering. You don't need to waste time with aliases though. Simply change permissions of Mom to allow access to pictures by Dad then once logged on as Dad delete Dad's iphoto library (assuming it's empty and all the photos you want are in Mom's library). When you open iphoto you will then be asked where the library is. Chose the library in Mom and after a brief repair of permissions everything works. The only issue I've had is with mobile me galleries but that's not surprising.