iTunes 9: Shared Libraries vs Home Sharing


Apple's iTunes News is back with another helpful reminder, this time on the two different types of sharing that now exist in iTunes 9 -- share libraries and Home Sharing.

Sharing libraries via streaming:

You can enable it on the Sharing tab in the Preferences panel, which will allow your computer to look for the libraries others are sharing and let you choose whether to share your whole library or just selected items and playlists. When Sharing is turned on, shared libraries on your local network appear in the Shared section of the iTunes window's left-hand column. You can play the content that appears there as if it were on your own computer.

Home Sharing:

lets the users of up to five computers on a home network copy over music or any other item they'd like to have in their own library. Then they can then enjoy it even if your computer is no longer on the network, and they can sync it to their own devices. To turn it on, use Turn On Home Sharing in the Advanced menu on each of the computers, and use the same active iTunes account to activate each one. Copying is then a simple matter of dragging from a shared library and dropping into your own.

I've enabled Home Sharing but I tend to just stream from shared libraries. It just feels quicker to me when I'm looking for something. Which do you use and why?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iTunes 9: Shared Libraries vs Home Sharing


It seems obvious which to use for what. If you want to listen to music while you're connected to stream.
If you're on the road a lot and want to keep on listening you copy the songs over. It's all a question if you even have room for it etc..
The BIGGEST drawback I noticed is that you can't change the view when looking at a shared lib.. you only have that long list.. not per album for example, with a nice album pic.
Comparing these to each other is like deciding to lease or buy a car .. if you have the money, why even debate about... (note that in this analogy the leasing company drops the car off every time you need it and comes and get it afterwards :-) )
Anyway, I like both modes, each with their own issues..

If you "can" use Home Sharing, there is no reason NOT to use it, since it does everything that Shared Libraries do (you can still fully stream videos across a Home Share last I checked).

But what about User Sharing ie two accounts on one machine sharing the same iTunes source files accessed by two different libraries? Apple would rather you just doubled up your library. I know it's not exactly rocket science to move all of the music/video files to a shared location and then point a second library at them, but it's a pain in the arse and not something my parents would think of.

@Dimicool points out, you are comparing oranges and grapefruits. Shared Libraries are for listening, Home Sharing is for actual file sharing (ie syncing files between computers).

Does Home Sharing work on the same computer? I know I'd rather have the option to just copy select files from the other users library on my computer to my library instead of having to share one library. Does anyone know if and how this would work?

Oh, the irony. I JUST got off the phone with Apple iTunes Support asking this SAME. EXACT. QUESTION! I got my answer with them after being transfered to the senior iTunes rep and was on the phone for about 30 minutes; all tht time to come onto tipb and read the same information in under a minute. I've got windows vista with iTunes 9 and an old PowerBook G3 still running iTunes 7 on panther (which still let's me control it with the iPhone 'remote' app!!!) and I was able to view my vista library at a decent speed, until the whopping 250mHz processor commited suicide. But the fact is that I was able to do that with a decade old machine. Since the 7.7 iTunes does not have "home sharing" (which should have been a feature since at least the 7.x v.) I still resort to having to use a flash drive to transfer from here to fro.

But the beauty of still owning a mac is that I'm able to trim/edit/cut-the-time-off-of songs in iTunes 9 on my vista, 'flash-drive them' over to my PowerBook and change the extentions from .m4a to .m4r and BAM—ringtone creation complete.

I haven't used the Sharing option since I lived in the dorms last semester. Looking at (what was in my opinion) the horribly bad music in my fellow students' Music Libraries was fun every once in a while.
I told my father just now that we should enable Home Sharing so I can get his Neil Young, Bon Dylan, etc albums.