Sharing a local iTunes library

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Today’s Mac 911 question has done a fair bit of traveling in its short lifetime. Originally sent by one Ken Evans, this query has passed from Take Control Editor in Chief, Tonya Engst; to Macworld Editorial Director, Jason Snell; to yours truly. Now that you know its history, read on for its details:

I’m looking for detailed documentation on how to move iTunes files and the iTunes database to a common shared directory for all users on a Mac. This would included step-by-step detailed information on how to use a Unix command prompt to set the appropriate group:user permission levels.

I’m aware that iTunes can “share” via Bonjour, but this doesn’t support Cover Flow. Do you have something that would fit my description?

No Unix command prompt necessary (thank heavens). It’s simply a matter of moving the iTunes music library in a location that’s accessible to all users of the computer, providing a likewise universal database file, and then linking each user to that database (and making sure the database and its host folder have the correct permissions to make it all possible). Here’s how:

Move the iTunes Music folder from this path: your user folder /Music/iTunes/ and place it in the Shared user folder, which you’ll find within the Users folder at the root level of your startup drive. Launch iTunes and in the General portion of the Advanced preference, click the Change button and navigate to the new location of your iTunes Music folder (again, /Users/Shared). Select it and click Choose.

Enable the Copy Files To iTunes Music Folder When Adding To Library option in this window, and then close the Preferences window. If iTunes asks if you want to move and rename files in the new library, click on No. Quit iTunes.

Move the iTunes Music Library file from your iTunes folder to Users/Shared. Make an alias of the file, and copy it to your user folder /Music/iTunes (in other words, to the location from where you moved the original file). When you launch iTunes, all your iTunes media should appear as usual.

To give another user of this Mac access to the library, log in as a different user. Launch iTunes and, in its Advanced preference window, change the library location to the Shared user folder. Quit iTunes. Make an alias of the iTunes Music Library file in the Shared folder, and replace this user’s music library file with the alias. Open iTunes. This user now has access to your shared library and can add files or playlists to it.

If iTunes tells you that the user doesn’t have sufficient privileges to open the library file, log in as yourself, select the shared library, press Command-I, and change Ownership & Permissions for Others to Read & Write.

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