Storing iTunes Music On a Shared Drive (MacMost Now 773)


Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s
episode let me show you how to share your iTunes Media with other users on your network. So this is one of the most common questions
that I get asked. People have lots of music stored on their Mac and they want to save
it, say on a network drive in their house and have those same files be used by multiple
Macs. In other words you have one copy of an MP3 file and you can use that on two or
more Macs in your house. So the way to do that of course is to put
the music on some sort of network drive. It could be a drive attached to an iMac or some
computer that is always on. It could be a drive attached to your airport extreme, it
could be some sort of network server that you’ve got. You have that drive accessible
to all the Macs in your house. Now you can put your iTunes music on that
drive and have it used in iTunes libraries on all the different Macs as long as you check
one little box in iTunes. So in iTunes I am going to go to iTunes preferences
and I want to go to the advance tab. There I’ve got the option, “Copy files to iTunes
Media folder when adding to library.” This is the critical one. When you add something
to your iTunes Library it will then appear there in the music folder. So a physical copy
will be made and put there. This means that all your music, everything you add to iTunes,
is going to be in this one location available to the one user on your one Mac. Turn this off it will stop doing this. Which
means that you can add music that will then stay where it was and be available in iTunes.
It will just link to the file externally. So you can have one copy on a shared drive
and you can have two users on your network linked to that same file and it won’t copy
to either one of those. You have got to turn that off on every copy of iTunes that you
are going to do this. So now if I look in my music in here I can
Control/Click on anything that I want and go Show in Finder. It will bring up a Finder
window. In this case I can see that this song is in a sub folder inside my music folder
inside my iTunes Media folder inside of iTunes inside my Music folder inside my User folder.
So this is exactly where I don’t want it because it is available just to me. I want to share
this. So what I want to do is if I go up here to
this level I can see that I’ve got four different artists here in my music folder. I want to
take these and I want to move these, copy them somewhere else. So in this case I have this other drive here.
It can be a shared drive or an attached drive. Let’s pretend it is a shared drive and I’m
going to move all this. I already have an artist there and some music stored there.
I’m going to copy all the music to it. So now I’ve got copies on this shared drive here
as well as my original still in place. The originals here are what is linked to iTunes. So now if I go over to iTunes once this is
done copying then I can select all of the songs here, Command A, and I’m going to hit
the delete key and I’m going to make sure, of course, that it is finished copying them
all over, and I’m going to hit Delete songs, and this is going to clear out my iTunes library.
I’m going to say Move to Trash because I actually want to clean these out of that music folder. So now when I go back to the Finder here I
can see that the iTunes Media folder all that stuff is gone. So I’ve nothing in there and
I have nothing in iTunes but I have the copies that I made here on the shared drive. Now since I have actually turned off the check
mark for copy I can now select these and drag them back into iTunes and watch how quickly
it adds them because it is not making a copy of them. It actually added them without copying
them to the music folder. That is still empty. So each one of these is a link to the location
here and this can be a shared drive. So I can do the same thing on another iTunes on
another Mac also connected to the same network drive, add all the files, and the actual files
will only be in one place even though I can see them in two different iTunes libraries. Now if you buy new music in iTunes it is going
to of course put them in your iTunes Media folder. But what you can do is just repeat
that process. Just move them to the shared drive, remove them from iTunes, and then add
them back from that shared drive. So that way you can keep all your music in one location. You can, of course, actually divide things
up. You can keep some things in a shared location and let some things be in your local user
folder. Now the big question is what happens to that
drive isn’t connected. I’ve disconnected that drive now and I’m going to run iTunes. So
it is not going to be able to find any of these songs. Nothing will seem wrong at first
but what is going to happen is if I double click to play it is going to say it can’t
find it. Now I’ve reconnected that drive and let’s see what happens when I hit cancel and
then I try to play it. You see it will still work. Now I’ve always had great success with that.
With just reconnecting the drive and everything links back fine. But there are plenty reports
of people having trouble once it says it can’t find it and even if the drive becomes available
they have to relink each individual file. Maybe that’s just with older versions of iTunes
and that is something that just doesn’t happen if you have everything up to date. But it
is something to keep in mind. Of course one thing to consider is that by
removing everything from iTunes and adding it back from another location you are going
to loose all your star ratings, all you number of plays, and even the playlist won’t work
quite right anymore. So you are going to have to recreate all of those. Now if you are starting from scratch this
is great to do and of course if you need to implement this then you are going to have
to do it. It is something to keep in mind. Another thing that you’ve got to deal with
here is that if you are using this then iTunes is giving up on helping you to organize your
files. So as you create this music folder on a shared drive it is up to organize it.
It is up to you to actually have good file names, good folder structure, put it all together
and have it make some sense. So I hope you found this useful. Until next
time this is Gary at MacMost Now.

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