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I find it easier to focus on a project if I dedicate an entire user account to it. I fast-user-switch between work mode (documents and programs I'd rather not close) and entertainment mode (user account holding tv shows, movies, music, which is hooked up to my tv in the living room).

The issue I've now run into is preferences. Because I'm constantly tweaking keyboard shortcuts, etc. in both accounts, the two users are never really in sync. Searching around I uncovered this guide for symlinking an iTunes library:

1) copy the master iTunes folder to the /Users/Shared directory
2) symlink each user's iTunes directory to the shared one
3) for each user, set the iTunes library destination to the shared on
4) install WinSwitch
5) create a tiny program that chmod's the iTunes directory to 777 recursively
6) run this program on each FUS with WinSwitch
7) run this program on login of each user

Is this a good way to manage the ~/Library folder? Is it fine to have both user accounts accessing the same files at the same time?

Thanks for your help.

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2 Answers

For the specific case of iTunes, it seems a lot simpler to just:

  • start iTunes in the entertainment account
  • make sure it's sharing the library over the network
  • switch to the work account
  • Launch iTunes
  • Connect to the shared library and play music from there.
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Is it fine to have both user accounts accessing the same files at the same time?

I think it depends on the application whether it's ok to have more than one instance accessing the files under ~/Library at the same time. Some apps might not like it at all. Given this, you might not want to share the whole ~/Library folder, but specific subfolders of it. (I've successfully shared stuff like Calendars, AddressBook data, Adium and Skype preferences and logs (under Library/Appication Support), and so on.)

I've found Dropbox (which was recommended in my question about sharing stuff between several Macs) and symlinks a pretty decent way to do it; this has the benefit that it works across several computers. If you are only using one, however, Dropbox may obviously be an overkill, and simply having a local shared folder (something like what you described in the question) might suit you better.

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The latest version of the Dropbox client even supports "lan syncing" - it detects that the file it needs to pull exists on another machine in the same subnet and will pull from it instead of from the dropbox server. Much faster, and doesn't chew through your internet quota. –  James Polley Jan 1 '10 at 22:32
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