Playing iPhone via computer

Q: My iTunes library is on my home computer where I sync my music and videos. I also have a MacBook Pro which I use at work and for travel. I dock my iPhone while at work (with my MBP) to charge it and sync my address book and bookmarks. I would like to be able to play the music on my iPhone while it’s docked either on my computer OR control the playing of music on the iPhone from my computer. Either way, I want to be able to control playback, music selection etc. from my MBP, not on the iPhone screen because it’s much easier. This does not seem to be possible from iTunes, is there a third party app that can do this?

– Brett

A: The normal solution for this with traditional iPods is to set the device to “Manual” mode, which allows access to the music on the iPod from more than one computer. Unfortunately, the current implementation of “manual mode” for the iPhone seems to only apply on the original computer with which the iPhone was first synced. Attempting to enable manual mode on a second computer for the same iPhone will result in a prompt to erase and sync your iPhone, which is obviously not what you want to do.

Playing iPhone via computer

Since manual mode support for the iPhone was only introduced in iTunes 7.6, hopefully this is merely a bug in the current version of iTunes that will be addressed in a future update.

In the meantime, however, a reasonable workaround for Mac users is a third-party application known as PhoneView ($20, which evolved from products formerly known as MegaPhone and iPhoneDrive. PhoneView will allow access to your iPhone’s music library and other content from outside of iTunes, and doesn’t really concern itself with which computer your iPhone is synced to or whether it’s in manual mode or not. It merely communicates directly with your connected iPhone, and allows you to view and play your content on the device, and will even allow transfer of music and other media content to and from the device.


Playing iPhone via computer

Unfortunately, PhoneView is Mac-only at this point. An alternative for Windows users is TouchCopy ($20, Although TouchCopy is not iPhone-specific and therefore doesn’t provide the same phone-related features as PhoneView, it does provide for access to the iPhone (or iPod touch) media content in much the same way.


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