Sharing multiple iTunes libraries on one computer

Q: Is it possible to have more than one iTunes account on the same computer? My wife and I each have iPhones, but don’t necessarily want to share all the same apps, music and other content. Your help will be appreciated.

– Greg

Sharing multiple iTunes libraries on one computer

A: Most definitely. There are several ways that you can approach this, but the easiest method is to simply setup separate operating system level user accounts and create those libraries under each account.

iTunes stores its library database in each user’s local “Music” folder and stores its preferences on a per-user basis as well. Therefore, when you log in under a different user account, iTunes will create a new library for that account, with its own iTunes Media folder and settings. In essence, it will be as if you’re running iTunes on two separate computers.

Should you not want to create separate user accounts, you can still work around this by creating separate iTunes libraries in different folders.

If you hold down the “SHIFT” key when starting iTunes, you will be prompted to either Choose or Create a new library database; you can use this method to create a new database in a different folder and to then alternate between the two.

Note that when using this method, however, your iTunes preferences are still shared between both libraries. This means settings such as your “iTUnes Media” folder and anything else you adjust in the “Preferences” section in iTunes will be set for both users. This can make things more complicated if you want to adjust your preferences differently and/or keep your music in entirely separate folders.  There are third-party utilities such as iLibs for Windows users and iTunes Library Manager for Mac users that can simplify this process for you, including swapping around preference files, but the cleanest way to deal with this is still to simply use separate Windows or Mac user accounts for each of your libraries.