Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton
ralphmelton

iTunes Music Sharing

I figured out how to get iTunes to handle multiple users in exactly the way I want for us, and I'm so pleased that I'm going to geek out and tell y'all how I did it.

First, the problem:

We have a new Powerbook.
I really want to use Panther's Fast User Switching on it, so that Lori can have her workspace of desktop picture, e-mail accounts, open apps and window, WWW cookies, and so forth, and I can have mine, without interfering with each other.
We'll both want to have our iTunes music libraries on the laptop, particularly since I intend for the laptop to pump music into an Airport Express connected to the stereo.
I know that my music takes up a lot of space, so I would like to have only one copy of the music files in both our libraries.

I tried various tricks of symlinking one user's ~/Music to the other's. But this didn't work for me:

But I finally found a good solution:
1. Make /User/Shared/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music. Make sure that it is readable and writable by both accounts. (One or both of these steps may not be necessary.)
2. In the Advanced pane of the iTunes preferences, set the 'iTunes Music Folder Location' to that shared "iTunes Music" directory. Do this for each user.

Now, all the music files will be stored in the shared directory, but each user will have their own library file. This means that they can have their own playlists and their own ratings, and don't have to see all of the other user's songs. I am so pleased.

Some details of how to make this solution complete:
- if you already have music files in your library, the library file will continue to remember their old locations. Choosing 'Consolidate Library' will copy all those files to the shared directory.
- if one user imports a CD, the files will not be immediately visible in the other user's library. The other user can choose 'Add Music...' and select the directory containing the the files to include those files in their library.
- one slight flaw in the ointment: if the other user doesn't realize that the CD's been imported, iTunes will re-import the CD instead of saying "There's already a file of the right name in the location, shall I just use that?" However, since the re-imported file is still playable by both users, all that's lost by the re-import is a few minutes of importing time.
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