A guide to sharing your iTunes library between different users on the same Mac
Lets say you have two accounts on the one Mac, one for you and one for your partner. You are both into the same sort of music so want to share it between you both. Normally, in OS X, the different user accounts are completely isolated from one another, Documents, Music, Movies, all separate. This is a common feature in *nix land and contributes largely to the underlying security of the operating system. If you were to rip a CD into iTunes in one account, the other account wouldn’t know anything about it.
There are a couple of places where you can share information between accounts though. One is the Dropbox, where other users and even anonymous logins can drop files, but not see inside. It’s located at /Users/username/Public/Drop Box. The other is at /Users/Shared. This space is a bit more relaxed and all users can see anything that’s put into it, ie its shared!
This article will guide you through moving your iTunes music and library to /Users/Shared so that all users have access to the one library.
Before we begin, open up Finder and navigate to your Music directory. Note the structure:
The key parts of this is the ‘iTunes Library’ file and the ‘iTunes Music’ folder. You might have other folders like artwork etc, that’s fine.
Firstly, the article at Apple about this, doesn’t quite share iTunes properly. It talks about moving the iTunes Music folder into /Users/Shared, but leaving your iTunes library where it is. You then add the other user’s library to your own. What this means is that any new music you add in one account WILL NOT automatically be in the other user’s library, you will need to re-add the other user’s library each time it changes. Not ideal.
This method moves the entire iTunes folder, library and all, then adjusts the permissions on that folder so that the other user account can write into the same library. Here’s how:
1. For one user, quit iTunes and drag or move your entire iTunes folder into /Users/Shared (or Macintosh HD > Users > Shared). After moving, it should look like this:
2. Open iTunes but hold down the option key as you do. You will get a prompt like this:
3. Select ‘Choose Library…’ and navigate to /Users/Shared and select ‘iTunes’.
4. iTunes will start and you should see your music as normal.
5. Navigate to iTunes > Preferences > Advanced and make sure both checkboxes are checked. You need to do this so that all music goes into the shared iTunes library. It’s a good idea to do this even if you aren’t sharing music as it keeps it all in one spot.
6. Quit iTunes and open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal)
7. Enter this command, followed by Enter after each.
chmod -R 775 iTunes
What this does is sets the permissions on the iTunes folder in /Users/Shared and all files and folders underneath it to be read AND write to the other user. If you do not do this then the other user would only be able to read the library. However, iTunes constantly writes to the library, when you play a song, or retrieve artwork etc so both users must have write permission.
8. Now logout or switch to the other user account. If you fast-switch, make sure you have quit iTunes. If you logout it will close anyway.
9. In the other user account, open iTunes holding down option. You will get the same prompt. Choose /Users/Shared/iTunes. You will see the music from the other account in this account. Try adding a song then switching back to the other user and you’ll see it’s there as well!
10. Make sure the same two checkboxes in Step 5 are enabled for this user and you are finished!
Note: You must close iTunes before switching to the other account and using iTunes, otherwise you will get a message about the library being locked. iTunes locks the library when it opens and unlocks it when it exits.