Sharing iTunes library on a single computer


Q: I can’t believe I’m the only one who needs to do this (marital bliss depends on success), but I need to find a way to share one music library between two users on the same machine. I would like two users to share music (without the other user needing to be logged in), and if possible, music added (purchased from the iTunes Store or ripped from CD) would be placed into the same library and both users would have permission.

Sharing iTunes library on a single computer

– Greg

A: With iTunes 7, this is actually not all that difficult, although a few steps are required to configure this.

The first step is to shut down iTunes and move your iTunes Music folder to a common location that both users on the computer have access to. This can be a folder at the root of the hard drive, or in any other common folder that can be shared between both users.

Once this has been done, simply restart iTunes while holding down the SHIFT key (Windows) or OPT key (Mac), and keep holding this key down until you see a dialog box similar to the following:

Sharing iTunes library on a single computer

From there, simply click “Choose Library” and then browse to the location that you moved your iTunes Music Folder to. iTunes will simply begin accessing the music folder in the new location, and will remember this location until you manually change it again using this same method.

You can then simply log in to the second account and perform the same steps: Start iTunes while holding down SHIFT or OPT and choose the new common library location.

You may also want to go into your iTunes Advanced Preferences and update the iTunes Music Folder path to reflect this new location as well, depending upon how you normally store your music files, in order to ensure that any new content you add goes into the correct location.

The only caution to this method is to ensure that you do not have iTunes open in more than one user profile at a time (ie, if you are using a feature such as “Fast User Switching”), as the iTunes database is not designed for multi-user access and this may risk corruption to it. If you normally log out from one account before logging in to the other, you should be fine. However if you use Fast User switching, simply ensure that iTunes is shut down in the first account before loading it in the other user account.



Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.