iTunes 9: At Home With Home Sharing


homeiconFor me, the Home Sharing feature introduced in iTunes 9 has been a long time coming. I’ve always run at least two Macs, one desktop and one notebook, and over the years I’ve tried various solutions for sharing media between multiple machines.

Of course, there was always the option of sharing your library on your home network. This allowed you to play streaming music from one computer on others via iTunes. It works well enough for what it is, but Home Sharing does that, and much more.

Share More Media

First of all, you can share much more than just music between computers. Movies, music videos, and TV shows are all now playable on any machine in your network you authorize via Home Sharing. Authorization is simple, but requires you to have an iTunes account, and to have authorized the computer in question to play media associated with that account. Once that’s done, your Home Share libraries should appear in your source list.

home sharing 1Clicking on an available library brings up a straightforward list of all the media available on that library. As with Shared Libraries, you can only view Home Shares in list view, not in Grid or Coverflow. It’s inconvenient and unfortunate, but it doesn’t really detract that much from the feature’s usability that much, especially since you can still filter the library via search.

home sharing 2Copy and Sync

You can also break down the shared library into categories, just like iTunes’ native library is divided up. Clicking on any item in any category will activate the “Import” button, which allows you to physically copy the item to your current library with a single click.

home sharing 3To make it easier to find items you don’t already have, there’s a simple drop down menu in the bottom left-hand corner of the media browser window that lets you choose between “All items” and “Items not in my library.” You can also open the “Settings…” dialog to set up automatic transfer of new purchases from one library to another via Home Sharing, ensuring that your content is up to date across all computers.

One Central Location

For my own purposes, I’m much more interested in Home Sharing’s movie and TV show streaming. I couldn’t tell you why I have a problem with keeping a decent amount of hard drive space clear on any of my computers, but the fact remains that I do. It definitely doesn’t help that I can’t keep the lines clear between a dedicated media machine and a work machine.

With Home Sharing, I can use my Mac mini as I intended when I bought it: As a central repository for all entertainment media. On those occasions when I want to watch something on my iMac or on the bedroom TV via my Macbook Pro, I no longer have to transfer any files (which I invariably forget/am too lazy to delete). Media stays where it belongs, and remains accessible.

Good, But Should Be Better

So what is Home Sharing still lacking? How about the big glaring omission: the ability to share content to iPod touches and iPhones on the local network. I can’t imagine what’s preventing Apple (s aapl) from allowing me to view Home Share playlists in my iPhone’s iPod application as well as on other computers. If you’re paying attention, Cupertino, think about working that into iPhone OS 3.2.

If you were hoping that since Home Sharing requires you to be using one of your five account-authorized computers, you’d be able to access shared libraries on the road, you’ll be disappointed. Only computers on the same Wi-Fi network can see active shares. To get this functionality, and to be able to stream iTunes libraries to your iPhone or iPod touch as mentioned above, check out Simplify Media and its attendant iPhone apps.

My ideal vision for the future of Home Sharing? Tie it to MobileMe and have an option to keep libraries synced the way you can Address Book and iCal, make it accessible away from home from authorized computers, and introduce mobile device streaming for iPhones and touches. It’s a nice start, but those features would make it a true game-changer.



I’m exstatic about home sharing but i’m lost as usual lol. my mom and i have seperate acounts. I’ve autorized both computers with each other but the home sharing icon on the left keeps disappearing and i can’t grab things from each other! I was really hoping to just for the movies if nothing else… in a pinch i could always burn cds and transfer music like before…. any help?


Home Sharing is a wonderful opportunity to use your both computers for listening to the music you like. just try to read everything carefully and then you will see a result!


How the heck do you get it to work? Not only does the icon keep disappearing, but computers won’t see each other. Have been throught the entire internet configuration…nothing has helped


The import option doesn’t come up when I select the shared library from my laptop. How to I copy the music from the desktop to my laptop?


My ‘Homesharing’ disappears. After I sign into it, it’s just gone. How can I get into it?


I’ve spent the last couple hours trying to figure out the same thing as many people here.(‘homesharing disappearing after sign in’, ‘not showing the other computers library under the “shared” on the left side bar’. It only says “Home Sharing” with a yellow home sign with a music note in it, the main screen has a done button that, as said many times when pushed causes the whole Home Sharing screen to disappear)

I have read every post here and on other sites thoroughly and nothing seems to work.

Is anyone one else still having problems after trying the different solutions here? What do you suggest to do?


I’m finding it hard to transfer iPod games from one computer to the other. They’re classified as applications but it’s not transfering it to my other computer, is it even possible?



I imported my whole library from my macbook pro the my new imac with homesharing.. So what I’m guessing is that the songs will only work if both computers are connected?


This really just isn’t ready for primetime yet. I’d really like to see:

* the music RATINGS be sharable/sync’d across a library. I have 30K songs and wish there was a way to download chunks of my library to a laptop, rate them, and push the ratings back to the media library.

* wish there was a way that you could have a central repository for all media files and treat individual desktop PC’s, Macs, laptops, iPhones, iPods, Apple TV’s, etc. ALL as sync devices


I have a home shared server where I keep all my music.

I sync my iPod with my laptop running iTunes. To get the music on the server, I mount a network drive, which is mapped to my music files on the server. This works well, except it is a pain that everytime I rip a CD on my server, I need to “Import Folder” into my iTunes library on my laptop.

I thought iTunes 9.0 would help, but it does not at all. What I would like is:

1. Be able to sync the “Home Shared” library to my ipod through my Laptop.
2. Be able to have the Network Drive “watched” by iTunes on my laptop and automatically add new folders (i.e. albums/songs/TV Shows, etc.)

I’d rather not copy all the files to my laptop, but I need to sync to the laptop as I do pick up Podcasts on the road and sync.

BTW. I set up Home Share on both systems, works well, but doesn’t provide either 1 or 2. :-(


So frustrated, been trying for hours from laptop to PC with all the right things enabled, the pc is not wireless and is getting my library but I can’t get its library and I am on wireless, same account both authorised. Going to give up now I think, very frustrating


Shortly after posting my comment on November 11th, Home Sharing via Ethernet also stopped working. However, two days ago everything started working perfectly again – Wireless and Wired. Have not made any significant changes to anything in the system or the environment, so unclear how things got resolved. But then again, it wasn’t clear why it stopped working in the first place!!!

Jen E

Trying to set up Home Sharing.

I can get both itunes screen to see each “X”s Library,” and “Y Library.” X’s library is shared on Y’s I tunes account. I cannot, however, get Y library to come over to X’s computer. I get a message that Y’s computer is not responding, the firewall and it talks about port 3689. Gone to the settings on both computers and made adjustments, turned off the firewalls completely with no change.

There is a router obviously – it the problem coming from the router’s firewall?


Hi Jen E, allygill,

I have the same issues, after spending a lot of (unnecessary) time investigating the problem and several hours talking with apple and netgear technical support to no avail, I decided to reinstall the os x system back to the previous one (10.6.1) and bingo! everything worked fine, including the iphone/itunes remote, however soon as I did the software upgrade back to 10.6.2 the problem started again, I can see my iMac itunes library on both mac mini and mbp but I get the error message whenever I try to connect to it. Apple support (australia) said my problem is unique but after reading your comments I realize I’m not alone, they believe it could be a incompatible third party software that is interfering and preventing the network to work correctly, at this stage it would be like finding a needle on a hay stack so I’m considering downgrading my os x back to 10.6.1 until someone can find a solution.


i tried to do that and I downloaded all of my songs from 1 computer to the other but it won’t let me do anything with them. Like i want to put them on my iPod, but when I drag them on it does not work. I cannot copy them either or make a playlist and i am just veeeerrrrrrrrryyyyyy confused…. will someone please help me??? i would it appreciate it very very much!


*By the way, there are not saved under the library. they are under Shared > Home Sharing > aack’s library (my library) > Playlists > Addie’s. But now it will not let me do anythhing with them.


I downloaded itunes 9 and watched the video about home share. I don’t even have a home share icon to do it. how do I get it to show up?


Everything was working fine until 10.6.2 / iTunes 9.0.2 after which I can’t share my iMac / MacBook Pro machines over the wireless network any more. No problem if the laptop is connected via Ethernet however…


Yeah, I was having a beast of a time with this (I have a HP laptop and HP desktop) and I took the above advice — I logged off completely from my iTunes store account on both computers, disconnected from the libraries, turned Home Share OFF and made sure that file sharing was enabled on my computers. Then I turned on Home Share on each computer, typing in my iTunes account email and password for both computers to enable Home Share. At that point, the Home Share icon popped up on both computers and I am in the process of updating my laptop library with my complete desktop library — 25 songs transferred so far and going strong! Weird.


OK, here’s what I did:

This works on 2 (and probably more) Macs—

without messing around with any port settings
with OS X Preferences, Sharing, File Sharing turned OFF on BOTH computers
with iTunes Preferences, Sharing, “Share my library on my local network” turned OFF on BOTH computers

(apologies for documentation overkill—just being thorough)

1. Turn OFF Home Sharing on BOTH computers (this is NOT done in Preferences; instead, go here: Advanced, Home Sharing)

2. Make sure BOTH machines are authorized for BOTH iTunes accounts (Store, Authorize Computer)—i.e., if each has its own iTunes account

3. You do NOT have to be logged into the same account on both computers; each computer may stay logged into the iTunes store under its own login

4. For sanity’s sake on this part, check to make sure of this—i.e., that each machine is logged into the store with its own store account (Store, View My Account, check to see ID is correct)

5. NOW turn Home Sharing back on (Advanced, Home Sharing) on each computer, but use ONE account to log into Home Sharing on both (or all) computers

6. DON’T WORRY, this does not “flip” the login ID for a particular computer’s iTunes Store connection to the ID being used for Home Sharing

7. On each computer now you should see a “Home” icon with the shared library in the left-hand sidebar

8. Open the shared library and drag and drop as desired

The bottom line seems to be this:

1. Keep each computer logged into the store with a separate iTunes ID (if you need to)
2. Get all the computers authorized for all available IDs
3. Use ONE ID to log into Home Sharing on ALL computers

You will of course ONLY see the Home Sharing icon pop up if both computers are on, with iTunes open on each

You’ll know that this whole thing is working if the shared library listed on the left has the correct “Home” icon (and not the blue, “shared” icon that shows up when Preferences, Sharing, “Share my library on my local network” is turned on—yes, this is the one you see in Internet cafes filled with Mac users)

I’ve tested the above over and over again, even completely rebooting my two machines (they have different iTunes accounts), and it still works. This is running Leopard on both machines.
MBP 2.4 GHz Santa Rosa 17-inch 4 GB RAM 320GB HD 1920×1200 matte
Airport Extreme; Airport Express x5; iPod G5 60GB x2; iPod Shuffle x2; iPhone 2G 8GB


This worked. I was able to see both libraries as shared, but couldn’t drag and drop. I followed your directions exactly and now I see the home icon. Drag and drop was easy and now works. THANK YOU.


I did as you advised, but cannot remove the ‘Home sharing is now on’ advice screen without pressing ‘done’ and when I press ‘done’ the house icon disappears from the left hand side. Am confused!!

Marta Keller

This may sound like a dumb question but do the computers have to be on the same network to share? I’m at work and I want to listen to my Itunes at home can I do that? Or do I have to take my laptop home in order to mesh my work itunes and my home itunes?

Andrew Dale

Am I right in thinking that Home Sharing only allows you to share music you have purchased form iTunes Stare? i.e. You can’t share ripped CDs.
Waste of time for me …


Nope, it’s sharing all my library, including ripped CDs. It just errors out after 5 to now 50 or 60 songs.


I can see my shared libraries, and start copying them from my PC (XP) to my Laptop (Vista) and it transfers 5-15 songs then I get an iTunes error “There was a problem downloading “SongName”. The network connection timed out. I can click OK and then click Import again and it will copy a few more songs before timing out again. Firewall is off on both systems. Connection is through home network protected by filtered Mac Addressess. I even turned off Anti-Virus. No luck, it only transfers a few files and then stops again. I have 600+ songs to transfer. Any suggestions?


i need help every time i try to click on my brothers play list it says check any fairwall on your or shared running are set to allow communication on a port


I’m trying to set up home sharing between my laptop and my sisters laptop but i cant get it to work. We dont have broadband but we do have a mobile internet stick. Is it not working because of the internet? Or is it because we have laptops instead of computers.

I have checked all the setting, and its set to look for shared libraries but still not working. Please help. :)


My problem is that it worked once or twice. But every time I wanna lisen on the other comp I can’t bring up home sharing any more. Help me to find out why it wont home share between my two comp’s.


if i take my laptop to school and my music is on homesharing will i loose all that music from the computer at home?


help!!!!! homesharing is set up on my pc desktop. on my mac i log in through the itunes account in the itunes store and it works fine. but when i try to use that same account for the laptop and desktop it says ” home sharing could not be activated because this computer is not authorized for this account what do i do????


Problem: Home Share icon dissapears as soon as you set it up.
Solution: Get off of wireless

I have two laptops running iTunes, one on wireless and one plugged into a wireless router. Once I plugged them both into the wireless rounter, the icons appeared and iTunes was shared. Problem solved.


Thanks , that works even though it’s pointless. Why have homesharing if both your computers have to be sitting next to each other plugged into the router? Apple SUCKS!!


I am unable to even sign in with my itunes account. I have tried every way of entering the account that signs in just fine with the store.


I’m so pissed, i have a new Pc with windows xp and i’ve done everything every website recommends and i can not activate home sharing, i have logged on both pc, i have activated the sharing options on both computers, we are on the same network and nothing. PLS help me!

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