How to sync iTunes libraries between computers to use a single external HD?
June 2, 2010 1:12 PM   Subscribe

I have an external hard disk (a Western Digital My Passport), I have all my music in this drive and I want to be able to use it on my Mac and my girlfriend Windows machine, but I want to sync the library, with all the ratings, playlists, etc. Is that possible in any way?

I know that newest iTunes version allow you to home sharing libraries, which is great, but it's not an option for me, because I need to carry my external disk when I travel and use with my laptop.

I've tried opening the iTunes library .xml on Windows, and no luck (of course, paths are different).
posted by Leech to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hopefully someone can point you in a better direction than I can, but I believe that you would need to be able to have 2 different file systems on teh hard drive to use it on both windows and mac. I don't know if you can partion the drive and have separte file systems on 2 separate partitions, each with your full music library on it...
posted by WeekendJen at 1:24 PM on June 2, 2010

Why I should do that?

I've already have access to the music in the hard disk in both operative systems. This is not the issue anymore.
posted by Leech at 1:32 PM on June 2, 2010

"I know that newest iTunes version allow you to home sharing libraries, which is great, but it's not an option for me, because I need to carry my external disk when I travel and use with my laptop."

I am not sure what this means. Are you saying that when you are gone, taking the external HD with you, that your girlfriend needs to still be able to play the music, i.e. you need a local copy on the Windows machine that syncs with the external HD?
posted by kosmonaut at 1:48 PM on June 2, 2010

Move the two library files from their existing homes (one on your Mac and one on the Windows PC's C drive) to the portable drive itself.

With the drive connected to either computer, run iTunes and change the location it looks for the library from the default to the location on the drive. Do the same for the other computer.

Now you have the same directory set in each.

This completely screws any other existing Library your girlfriend had, of course, since she is now also counting on your drive being present.
posted by rokusan at 1:49 PM on June 2, 2010

@kosmonaut no, it's only accessible when hard disk is present.

@rokusan interesting, I'll try that. Makes sense. Thanks.
posted by Leech at 2:00 PM on June 2, 2010

I had the same scenario and did what rokusan suggests. My setup was two Windows XP computers. Eventually, I just got fed up and today I have two separate local copies.

If you do go through with this, here's two things to keep in mind:

1) Make sure the Drive letter your external HD gets is always the same, since that's what iTunes will be expecting.

Typically, Windows will assign drive letters dynamically on a first come first serve basis. So if you plug in your HD now, it may be given Drive E. If tomorrow you plug in a card reader and then your HD, your card reader may get Drive E and your HD drive F.

Instructions on how to reserve a drive letter can be seen here. I picked 'M', figured it's far enough down the line and it can mean my 'Music' drive. Sorry, I have no experience with a Mac.

2) Be careful about opening iTunes when your external HD is not connected. From what I remember, since it can't find your external HD, it defaults the music folder back to the default location. If you then accidentally try to sync your iPod/iPhone, it'll wipe out all the music on it (it's a one way sync, not two way).

Good luck!
posted by thisisnotbruce at 2:49 PM on June 2, 2010

@thisisnotbruce Yes, it's something I was thinking, in Mac if the hd name remains the same always will be located at /Volumes/{hd_name}/. I'll follow your instructions for Windows drive letters.

Thank you, guys!
posted by Leech at 3:07 PM on June 2, 2010

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