Single iTunes Library and 2 Macs
January 26, 2013 11:14 AM   Subscribe

I need a solution to share a single iTunes library with two machines. Possibly.

I will be doing a weekly 3-hour radio show, and ideally I would like to export a playlist and the music from my home iMac to my MacBook Air which I will then take to the studio to play on air. I can think of a few ideas on how to do this, but not sure which ones are truly viable.

Solution 1: Burn playlist to CD each time and import the CD to MBA.
Problem(s): Requires burning CDs and would limit me to ~74 minutes for each playlist.
Benefit(s): Will have an archived version of the music on CD which could be replayed/reused later.

Solution 2: Find a way using iTunes to export playlists (not just an xml file) from the iTunes library to the MBA.
Problem(s): Having a hard time wading through the muck in forums, etc to see if this is even possible.
Benefit(s): Probably the ideal method for me IF it will work.

Solution 3: Use my iPhone 4S to transfer playlists from the iTunes library to the MBA
Problem(s): Again, not sure if this works or not. My iPhone 4S is paired with the iMac currently connected to the iTunes library. Not sure if this is possible and again had trouble wading through forums to see if this is viable.
Benefit(s): Probably the second best method for me IF it will work.

Solution 3b: Sync the playlist from the master iTunes library to the iPhone 4S, and then plug the 4S into the board at the studio.
Problem(s): I would prefer to work on the MacBook Air over the iPhone 4S.
Benefit(s): Easiest solution and less stuff to carry with me each week.

Solution 4: Buy a portable external HD and somehow mirror/clone the master iTunes library HD, and take the clone with me each week.
Problem(s): I don't have any experience with mirroring or cloning. Lesser problem is that I would have to carry more gear. Can't afford SSD external HD that would be large enough to clone entire iTunes library. Regular external HD would have to be treated gently.
Benefit(s): Would have entire library to use in case I wanted to do something other than planned show. Would have another backup (I use TimeMachine also) of the master iTunes library.

I am sure there are others, and so I am asking for your help. Thanks.
posted by terrapin to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have Dropbox?

If you do you can move your whole iTunes library into the Dropbox folder on your machine by treating the folder as an external hard drive (instructions here -

You will then have your own iTunes anywhere you want.

An alternative solution is to sign up to iCloud. This replicates playlists (and music files) on any signed in iTunes account.
posted by Gilgongo at 11:37 AM on January 26, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, I should have mentioned that I can't use solutions like Dropbox or Music Match because at home I am on satellite Internet with bandwidth limits. Sorry to leave that important part out.
posted by terrapin at 11:40 AM on January 26, 2013

In that case, take solution 4 and combine it with Gilgongo's suggestion. Move your iTunes library to an external hard drive, and point iTunes to it on both machines. Or, leave the library in its default location on the iMac, and mirror it to a folder on the external HD with arRsync, which is a pretty handy OSX GUI front end to rsync. Then point iTunes on the MacBook Air at the hard drive copy.

I wouldn't worry that much about the ruggedness of a portable external hard drive (as opposed to a desktop version) -- if you get a bus-powered 2.5" hard drive, then it should be able to stand up to routine abuse, since those drives are designed for use in laptops anyway.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 12:38 PM on January 26, 2013

Best answer: The library is already on an external drive, and the Air doesn't have the space to use the whole thing. I am going to investigate that solution, McCoy Pauley. Thanks.

However, I have another solution that my wife came up ... use the damn iPad I have that I never use.
posted by terrapin at 1:12 PM on January 26, 2013

Maybe use the iTunes Home Sharing feature? I don't DJ, but I have a similar issue. What I generally do is enable home sharing on the main iTunes machine, and wen I'm at home, I use the "import" button after selecting the songs I want for my laptop. The only issue is the playlist itself doesn't seem to come along for the ride (or at least, I couldn't figure it out). You have to re-create it -- you could possibly export it and import it separately -- which would then work becaus ethe songs are now on the laptop. :-)
posted by smidgen at 3:39 PM on January 26, 2013

with Solution 1, you should be able to avoid the 74 minute restriction by selecting MP3 CD or Data CD instead of Audio CD.
posted by russm at 4:49 PM on January 26, 2013

Best answer: Solution 2 will work; I've done it dozens of times. I'm not sure how long your playlists are, but if you can fit all the songs on an 8GB USB drive, then you'll be fine,

Step 1: use Doug Adams's AppleScript Put This Where I Want It to copy all the files in your playlist to the USB device.

Step 2: export the playlist as XML.

Step 3: copy that XML to the same USB device

Step 4: plug the USB device into the other computer

Step 4a is optional - for if you don't want to copy the music files to the new computer: open iTunes Prefs, go to Advanced, and turn off the option to copy music to iTunes media folder when adding to Library.

Step 5: copy the files by dragging/dropping them to the "Music" source in an open iTunes window OR by using the Add to Library command under iTunes's File menu

Step 6: once the files have been added, import the XML

That should do the trick.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:17 PM on January 27, 2013

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