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I have a large (> 2TB) iTunes library of music and videos that I keep on a Drobo connected to an Airport Extreme base station so that I can access it wirelessly from my MacBook. This works great for just me, but with my soon-to-be wife about to move in with her own iTunes library and MacBook, I would like to consolidate our libraries and continue to keep it on the Drobo, since it keeps everything (more-or-less) safely backed up. I would like my wife and I to be able to share the same iTunes library.

I've already looked at this question, and I've already looked at Dropbox and myTuneSync. I love Dropbox for lots of things, but obviously it's no good for a very large library (could I use it just to sync our iTunes.xml files? Would this work?). myTuneSync seems like a great solution for some people, but as I understand it, instead of consolidating our multiple iTunes libraries into a single one, it would sync them, meaning that any music files residing on my MacBook would be copied to hers, and vice versa. This doesn't work for us because:

  1. there are no music files on my actual MacBook, they're all on the Drobo (which is where I want all of our media to live), and
  2. neither of our MacBooks have hard drives that can accommodate our media library.

In other words, I don't want multiple, sync'd iTunes libraries. I want one single library that multiple computers can access and edit. What I'm looking for is a solution that does the following:

  • Allows my wife and me (and maybe later, a Mac Mini connected to our TV) to access via iTunes the music and video content currently on the Drobo.
  • If I add new music or video, the media files are stored on the Drobo, and the new addition is reflected in both my and her iTunes. Same thing if she adds it.
  • If either of us edit the metadata to our media, the changes are reflected in both of our iTunes (and the iTunes of our aforementioned hypothetical Mini).

Is this even possible? If so, how?

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Just like to point out for me, that if you store it on a network drive, it seems to cripple iTunes speed wise –  Macha Sep 10 '09 at 18:32

6 Answers 6

I have this set up at home. (Windows XP/Vista/7)

All music resides on my file server on a drive called M:\. This drive is shared as \\fileserver\m\. The Itunes library file is located at M:\Music\Itunes\ituneslibrary.xml.

Every computer maps the network drive \\fileserver\m\ as M:\, thereby making the paths to the files the same on all systems.

Load iTunes on each machine. During startup press Shift (windows) or Option (mac) to select the library file. On each machine you'll select M:\Music\Itunes\ituneslibrary.xml

You can add media from any system by simply dropping it into the M:\Music folder (or wherever your tunes reside). It will not get added to itunes on its own (Thanks alot Apple!), so you need to use iTunes Library Updater (ILU). This will add all your songs to iTunes and remove songs that you've deleted behind iTunes' back.

Some limitations: When you modify a playlist or something on one computer, you need to close iTunes to save the library information. Say you open up iTunes on two machines at the same time, make changes on one and close, it will save that library. If you then close the other one it will save it's version of the itunes library (without your changes you made on the other one). So be careful with that one.

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In order to change the location of the iTunes library, hold down (option) when launching iTunes, then you can create a new library wherever you want, and import the existing music into it. On the other computer, do the same, but choose the library you just made.

However, I don't know how well it will work with 2 computers using the same library — you may need to make sure you're not both changing metadata at the same time.

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You can sort of do this with limitations. The Apple Blog has an article here: http://theappleblog.com/2008/10/13/one-itunes-library-on-multiple-computers/

It uses file sharing, so not sure how well it deal with adding to the library from the different machines.

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You could use myTuneSync at least at the beginning to make this a bit easier.

I'm guessing that you have your MacBook iTunes set to put all of the music on the remote share in the Drobo. So use myTuneSync to sync your wife's library to yours so that the libraries will be merged.

Once you have it merged, you can probably get away with just using the iTunes 9 Home Share feature. In fact, inspired by phoven, you could just make that Mac Mini the main library holder. Then use the iTunes 9 Home Sharing to share the library from the Mac Mini to both MacBooks. Anything you need locally, you could copy, and anything you just want to listen to, you can stream.

Caveat - you will have problems if your wife has purchased content from iTunes with an account that is different then the one you used. It might be possible that you could authorize all 3 machines with both accounts simultaneously and Home Sharing might still work then.

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Have you considered a Droboshare and the Firefly app?

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If you had the Mac mini already, you could use Simplify Media to access it from both of the other computers.

That also lets you stream the music to an iPhone as well.

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Unfortunately, this is not a valid answer anymore. The only thing on the Simplify Media website is a message saying they have been acquired by Google. –  Andrew Feb 21 '11 at 0:30

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