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If the Mac or PC on which you're running iTunes is connected to a network whether you're at home or the office, by turning on certain preferences you can let iTunes users on your network play music and videos from your library on their computers, and naturally you can also play their music and videos on your computer, if they've also said the same preferences to allow Network Sharing. This ability to share iTunes Libraries of your network opens all sorts of possibilities. Basically everyone in your network can have his or her collection of music on his or her computer, but still have the ability to listen to everyone else's stuff, or if you have an old Mac or Windows machine sitting around, you could install a copy of iTunes on it, import all your music and use it to surf tunes or videos to the rest of your computers on your network, without taking up any hard drive space on them.
When you're listening or watching shared content, you are actually streaming the content from one computer to another. Nothing gets copied over in the process. So let's take a look at how to set up Sharing. Of course, the first thing we need to assume is that you have two or more computers running iTunes on your network. You should also make sure that each computer is running the most current or at least the same version of iTunes. So let's go to iTunes > Preferences or Edit > Preferences on Windows, we will select the Sharing tab, and in here we have several options that we can turn on or off. The first option here is usually on by default. It's currently off, but I will check Look for shared libraries.
When that's checked, music that's been shared by other users on your network will appear in the Source pane of your copy of iTunes, which you can then select and play. So if you want to be able to see the songs that other users are sharing, keep this option checked. Next, we have Share my library on my local network, so checking that means that other people will be able to see your iTunes music library. Now iTunes is making it clear that sharing only works on your local network and not over the Internet. So if you only want to play other people's music, but not share your own, don't click this option. But I do want to share my music in this case, so I have checked it.
Now other people will be up to see my songs if they have Look for shared music check in their copy of iTunes. Now when you're sharing your own items you have the choice of sharing your entire library or just selected playlists. So if you wanted to create a playlist just for items you wanted to share, you could do that and then select a playlist from this list. If you want you can require a password for people to access your files. This can be useful if you're in a large office with dozens of people on your network. You may not know everyone or want to share your music with everyone, so you can enter a password and only give it to the people with whom you want to share your content.
Other people will be able to see your library's name in their copies of iTunes, but they won't feel the browse or play any of your content without the password. Along those lines, you can only share your library with up to five people at a time, so dole out that password sparingly if you have large office. Now speaking of your library's name, that's found under the General tab. Whatever you type in this Library Name field, is what will show up in the Source panes of the people seeing your library. So you might want to make sure you have a distinctive enough name in here, so people will know that this is your library. And that's pretty much it for setting up Network Sharing.
Now let's see how it works. I am going to close Preferences. I get this reminder telling me that sharing music is for personal use only. Thank you Apple. I will click OK. And you can see this Shared header has now appeared to my Source pane, and here I can see there are two libraries being shared. I see Melanie's library and Phil's iTunes library. Both Phil and Melanie have allowed sharing their libraries in their own iTunes Preference settings, so they're showing up here. Notice the little lock icon next to Phil's library. So this is a password protected library, and when I click it, I am prompted to type a password. If I don't have the password I can't access his shared items.
Melanie's library doesn't require password though, so clicking it reveals everything she is sharing in iTunes. And now I can browse through her music. I can also use the Search bar if I want to look for a specific tune or band, and if I see a song I want to play, I just double-click it. (Music Playing) So what we are hearing now is music streaming over my network from her computer to mine. I am going to go ahead and pause that. Now a couple of things to bear in mind about shared music. As I mention earlier this is streaming music we are listening to. You are not copying the music to your computer, so you can't add shared songs to your own playlists.
You can't add artwork or change to song information in any way, and you can't burn these songs to CD. You can listen to them and that's pretty much it. You probably wouldn't want someone messing around with your songs anyway, so it's pretty much a good thing that it's listen only. Also if any of the shared content you want to play is purchased from the iTunes store, you will have to authorize your computer to play that purchased music before you can listen to it, and that involves getting the iTunes password from whoever's library you are listening to, which is probably unlikely unless you're really close to that person. I also want to point out that you can toggle open a shared library to view music libraries, movies, TV shows and so on.
So note that the Network Sharing is not just for music; we can share video content as well. So, if I have a movie selected here in Melanie's library, I can simply double-click on one these video files, which is the Lynda.com Training Podcast in this case. (Female speaker: Want to try out lynda.com completely for free?) And now I am watching this video content streaming over my network. I'll go ahead and close that. Now once you are done listening to or watching shared content, you can eject the shared library to disconnect. You can also hide the Shared header by clicking Hide, so it's not taking up too much space in your Source pane, and then just click Show when you do want to check out other people's libraries.
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