One of my favorite things about working in an office with a group of people is the fact that I can listen to most of their music through our shared iTunes folder. It gives me a chance to sample music that isn't part of my regular playlist, and make sweeping assumptions about my co-workers' hipness based on their music taste.
When your computer is on a network, iTunes’ built-in “sharing” feature works in two directions: it lets you open up your music library to others on the same network, and allows you to listen to music files that are on other computers running iTunes. For tips on how to use it, just
- If your computer is on a local network or shared housing environment (such as a dorm), you can share your music so others can enjoy it, and listen to your music on other computers. Also, if your computer or network has a WiFi or AirPort wireless card, you can often check out shared iTunes libraries on other wireless networks. I've picked up a couple in coffee shops and had fun looking around the the room, wondering whose music I was listening to.
- If you have more than one computer at home, you can share your iTunes music libraries from one computer to another. You can either have separate libraries on each computer, belonging, for example, to different family members, or you can have all your music on a single computer that works as a music server for your other computers.
Setting Up iTunes Music Sharing
iTunes includes everything you need to share your music and to connect to other iTunes music libraries. You don’t need any additional software, but you do need to be connected to a network - either wired or wireless. By default, music sharing is not turned on, so you must go to iTunes’ preferences and set up sharing. Select iTunes > Preferences (Mac) or Edit > Preferences (Windows), then click the Sharing icon to access these preferences.
If you have a firewall on your computer or network, you’ll need to make sure it allows iTunes music sharing to get through. This Apple technical document tells you how to configure your firewall.
Geek tip: Music sharing is not the same as file sharing, however. When you share music with iTunes, you provide other users with the possibility to listen to your songs, not to copy them or keep them.