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Sharing iTunes with multiple users on one PC

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Q: I have four users on one Windows XP computer, but only one iTunes library which we all share. The iTunes library is under my own user account, and when other users such as my daughter are logged on, she can’t access the iTunes library to listen to music while she’s working. How can I let everyone access the songs without them logging on as me? On the iTunes library in my daughter’s XP account I changed the iTunes Music Folder location to point to the location that my iTunes uses at, but this hasn’t worked. How can I let the other users access the iTunes under their logon without copying the library into their directories?

- Rick

A: There are a couple of ways you can do this, depending upon how your file rights are setup on Windows XP.

If other users have full read/write access to your “My Music” folder, or you’re willing to grant them this access, then the simplest solution by far is to simply point their iTunes installations at the iTunes library database in your own user profile. This is accomplished by holding down the SHIFT key when starting iTunes. You will then be prompted to either create a new library database, or choose an existing one:

Simply select “Choose Library” and then browse for the “iTunes Library.itl” file on your computer. By default on Windows this should be located under “C:\Documents and Settings\(your user name)\My Documents\My Music\iTunes”

Once you have specified this the first time you start iTunes under each user profile, they will continue to use that database as their primary iTunes database unless you switch it again by holding down SHIFT when starting iTunes and choosing/creating a different one. Note that each user will still have their own iTunes preferences settings, and you will need to ensure that the iTunes Music Folder location is set to the same iTunes Music Folder path as your own user profile.

Alternatively, if file sharing rights between user profiles is a problem, you can relocate the iTunes folder from your own “My Music” folder to a common, shared location, and then point all four users to that new database location.

Keep in mind as well that the iTunes library database is not designed for concurrent multi-user access. If you are using the “Fast User Switching” feature on Windows XP, always ensure that you close the iTunes application in one user profile before opening it in a different one.

Our article on Managing your iTunes Library on an External Hard Drive contains more information on how iTunes stores its library database and other related files.

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