great mp3 mountain
May 23, 2009 8:43 PM   Subscribe

how (on a mac) to share and browse an external hard drive full of music , all of which is stored as numbered files with the music details only in the mp3 meta data.


My friend d. has returned from living overseas with his entire music collection on a terabyte hard drive.

I did a rough calculation and figure it would take about a solid year to listen to it all. All of this music - quite unbelievably - was legitimately purchased, if you figure an album is about $10, and an hour long, this means the hard drive represents about $100 000 of investment. expenditure

(let us not discuss whether or not this may be part of the reason d. is now an - always very welcome - guest on my couch.)

so now to the hard drive.

it contains great mountains of mp3 files, all numbered, with no clue in the file name to their contents, that is all stored in the mp3 meta data.

I would like to be able easily browse the contents, so I need a program that can interpret the meta data. I am currently using finder, which means i am only seeing the meta data when i actually click on the file, which is an interesting way to explore, but tedious

i know i can switch between multiple libraries in itunes, but I would like some way of keeping my local library open, so that when i find something I really like, I can copy it to my laptop.

I would really like to have some kind of server program that can serve a shared i tunes library that i can connect to from my itunes, preferably with some kind of apple script that would allow me to easily copy things i like to my local itunes library

any suggestions?


posted by compound eye to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Is there a reason you don't simply use iTunes?
posted by kindall at 8:52 PM on May 23, 2009

Best answer: You can just add the drive to your iTunes collection. The problem would be removing them when you're done. Though I think this applescript should take care of it.

When the drive isn't plugged in they'll have the ! next to the song indicating iTunes couldn't find it.
posted by SirOmega at 8:57 PM on May 23, 2009

Response by poster: i do use itunes,

perhaps i don't understand some of the things you can do with itunes.

the external hard drive is to big to copy to my laptop.

I would like to be able to browse and play music from the external hard drive, but have my local itunes library open at the same time so i can copy things i like into my local library (and on to my local hard drive)

can i do this in itunes?
posted by compound eye at 9:01 PM on May 23, 2009

Response by poster: oh so i can add the music on the drive, referencing the files on the hard drive without moving the files to my hard drive.

thats sounds good. is there a way to copy things i have selected in tunes, perhaps in a play list to my local drive?
posted by compound eye at 9:04 PM on May 23, 2009

Response by poster: looks like there might be doug script for that too
posted by compound eye at 9:07 PM on May 23, 2009

Best answer: It's quite possible that iTunes will crap its pants if you try to do this. What about something like the free and open source squeezecenter? It has done quite nicely for me with large collections.
posted by rbs at 9:41 PM on May 23, 2009

Response by poster: squeeze centre looks ideal, thank you.
posted by compound eye at 10:02 PM on May 23, 2009

iTunes should be fine. Make sure the "copy to itunes folder when adding" preference is OFF before you add the library. Do not change the location of your itunes library (also in preferences) to the new drive or anything like that.

Now, you can also hold down the option key when starting iTunes which will prompt you to open or make a new library altogether. You can do this, start a new library, make sure the preference for copying when adding is OFF, then add the hard drive to iTunes.

It will chew away on everything in your friend's drive for a while, then list it all nice for you. No copying will happen. No data will be changed, and you will be set.

You can also just plain ol' drag songs or album out of itunes on to your own desktop to copy them, although I'm sure you wouldn't do that.
posted by Aquaman at 7:39 AM on May 24, 2009

Try Cog:

You can just drag files into its window without copying anything. It has a metadata drawer, too.
posted by interrobang at 9:10 AM on May 24, 2009

If you have a Linux/FreeBSD server, you can use daapd and the library will show up on your local network as if it were being shared from iTunes. This is how I share my central mp3 collection (also NFS and Samba running so you can browse the files from Windows and OSX).
posted by cj_ at 12:49 PM on May 24, 2009

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