Play Tunes across the Network


Play Tunes across the Network
Mac Tip #336, 30 April 2008

I’m lucky enough to have and use two networked computers. I also have a fair bit of music and numerous audio and video podcasts all on my MacBook Pro, one of those two machines.

Sometimes though, I want to watch a podcast or listen to an audio track while I’m working on the other machine, a white MacBook, that has no music, audio or video on its hard drive. Luckily iTunes makes it possible, in fact easy, to share the one library of music and videos.

Sharing an iTunes library from another machine.

Sharing an iTunes library from another machine.

The first step is to open up iTunes on the Mac that holds all the audio and video files (the Source machine). Go to iTunes Preferences > Sharing and check the box for ‘Share my library on my local network’. Check a radio button for sharing either the entire library or only selected playlists. Decide whether or not to password protect the library.

The screenshot shows how I’ve set up iTunes Sharing on my MacBook Pro.

Click OK once you’ve selected the settings you want to use. Now make sure to leave iTunes running on that source machine.

The iTunes library is empty on this machine.

The iTunes library is empty on this machine.

On another Mac open iTunes and visit the Sharing section of the Preferences. Check the box for ‘Look for shared libraries’.

If a shared library is available it will be displayed in the source list at the left of the iTunes window, under the ‘Shared’ heading.

The screenshot shows iTunes on my white MacBook — the Music library is empty. When I click on Miraz Jordan’s Library under the Shared heading in the Sources list though, I have access to much of the content on my MacBook Pro.

Double click a track from the source machine’s library to play it on the machine you have in front of you.

Double click a track from the source machine’s library to play it on the machine you have in front of you.

Double click a track from the source machine’s library to play it on the machine you have in front of you. My screenshot shows me playing an episode of Tekzilla Daily in the Artwork Viewer, with a list of all items from the MacBook Pro’s library in the main part of the window. I would normally play such a video in a fullsize window, but wanted my screenshot to demonstrate what’s going on.

While playing that video I was simultaneously playing a music track on the MacBook Pro in the other room.

Watch out

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Some interesting things emerged while I played tracks from the other Mac:

  1. I was unable to rate items from the shared music library on the remote Mac.
  2. I couldn’t reliably scroll around in the video I was watching. I wanted to ‘rewind’ to catch up on something I missed and just couldn’t seem to achieve that.
  3. The short, 1 minute video I watched started playing immediately, as did a 10 minute video. When I tried for a 20 minute video though it looked as though things weren’t working — a ‘Loading’ message appeared and stayed on screen for quite some time. Eventually the video began. I imagine it took a while to transmit the video across my wireless network.
  4. When I tried to play an item I’d purchased from the iTunes Store I had to authorise the computer I wanted to play it on.

Authorise the computer to play a purchased track.

Authorise the computer to play a purchased track.

If you have more than one computer try out playing audio and video content from one iTunes Library on another machine. It’s fun.

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