iTunes Home Sharing is a really easy way to share your podcasts, TV shows, movies and music with other computers in your home. People sometimes use it to transfer songs from their old iTunes library to their new computer. With Home Sharing you can share all your media with up to five computers. In addition, as long as all your devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you can stream your media library to your iPod, iPhone, iPad and and even Apple TV (assuming it’s at least the second generation).
What’s the benefit of Home Sharing?
The real benefit of Home Sharing is that you get all the advantages of streaming your iTunes media from almost all your computers but none of the disadvantages of wasted hard drive storage. Since the media lives on one machine, all the other computers get the content for free without any storage obligations. Of course, your wireless network needs to be relatively stable, but there’s ways to fix a Wi-Fi signal that keeps going in and out. The bottom line is if you have gigabytes (or even terabytes) of content, you don’t have to wait to physically transfer all that stuff to your devices.
And if you later decide it’s time to retire that old computer you can use iTunes with Home Sharing to import your media to the new computer.
Let me show you how all this works.
Getting Started with Home Sharing
To get started make sure you have the latest version of iTunes. Technically, Home Sharing works in iTunes 10.2 and later but it never hurts to grab the latest version of iTunes or press Alt + h + c inside the iTunes application to update direct.
After you’re running the newest revision of iTunes, turn on Home Sharing by pressing Ctrl + , (that’s a comma). Next click the blue Sharing tab and pop a checkmark in the Share my library on my local network box. You can also get to Home Sharing by pressing Alt and clicking to File > Home Sharing > Turn on Home Sharing.
You’ll notice that Home Sharing gives you the ability to share your entire library or just specific items like certain playlists. You can also share all your Books and purchased items too. Basically. virtually everything in your iTunes library is sharable. This turns out to be a boon for people with beefy video libraries because you don’t have to transfer those prodigious files through a USB cable or bother with USB sticks or external hard drives..
Also, I suggest you stick a check mark in the Require password. If you live in an small apartment it’s possible (and quite likely if your Wi-Fi network isn’t password protected) that someone in the proximity will connect to your network, notice your shared iTunes stuff and start leaching your library. I doubt you want that so put a password here and you’ll be fine.
I also like to check Home Sharing computers and devices update play counts because it helps me figure how popular a song is my house. It’s just a small little feature that grows on you.
Home Sharing depends on your Apple ID (which is your all-in-one account for everything you do with Apple) so make sure you know the email address and password you used to create the ID. If you happened to forget the password you can easily reset it.
Once you sign in, you’ll get a new Shared section in the left navigation pane that corrals all the libraries of all the computers you’ve enabled Home Sharing on.
If you don’t see the left Sidebar below, press Ctrl + s to toggle the view.
To copy the physical files from the shared library to your new computer, make sure both the source and destination computers are running the same version of iTunes and all your media is organized and then drag the songs from the Shared section of your new computer to the local library.
To share your songs to your iDevices, make sure it’s on the same Wi-Fi network and minimally at iOS version 4.3. Then depending on the iDevice, touch the iPod App on your iPad or Music App on your iPod touch and click More or Library to start streaming.