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Syncing iTunes content between computers

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Q: How can you sync iTunes content between computers? It would be awfully nice if iTunes could treat another Mac as a special iPod. I have an iPhone, iPod Nano and Apple TV. Each is synced to my master database on a MacBook Pro. My iPhone gets a hefty assortment of songs, my most recent 500 purchases and several podcasts. My iPod nano gets a group of high energy excercise songs. My Apple TV gets almost everything. I would like to get a MacBook Air (or a mythical Mac Netbook) but treat it like an iPod. It would get a healthy dose of new and favorite music. However, I don’t think you can do that. It doesn’t have the storage for everything. How do you auto-sync a partial iTunes database to another mac?

- Jim

A: This is definitely a feature that many of us wish that iTunes would include in a future version. Unfortunately, at this point there isn’t really any simple way to handle this within iTunes itself.

There are some AppleScripts that can be found at Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes site (http://www.dougsscripts.com) such as the Remote Management Scripts package that can be used to transfer tracks from a remote iTunes library via the built-in iTunes Sharing protocols. This script uses Remote Apple Events to permit you to copy down and import tracks from the remote library to your local iTunes library. Unfortunately, it’s largely a one-way affair - tracks are copied but metadata is not synced.

A more sophisticated solution can be found in third-party applications such as Syncopation ($25, trial available) or TuneRanger ($30, trial available). These apps run separately from iTunes itself and can be used to sync your iTunes media content between more than one iTunes library, either in whole or based on specific playlists. Metadata such as last played date and play count is even synced between iTunes libraries. Other than the cost of the software, the only downside is that this doesn’t occur within iTunes itself, so you have to load up and run the Syncopation or TuneRanger applications separately, and it’s not as transparent or simple to configure as an iPod or Apple TV sync would be.

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