My music library has reached a size that’s not feasible to keep on my laptop, so I’m now accessing my iTunes library from a central MEDIA tower. I have an Airport hooked up to my main house stereo, so I can select that unit from the speaker selection in iTunes no matter which computer I’m using. We’re also sharing all the iTunes libraries in the house (my laptop, the media tower, my wife’s computer, etc.).
I use the shared (MEDIA tower) library when I’m home. This means when I travel, I need to use a different library (one that accesses only the songs that are physically stored on my laptop).
You can alter the iTunes library you open by holding down the shift key when opening iTunes (you must keep holding down the shift key while clicking the iTunes.exe icon and keep the shift key held down until you see the select iTunes library dialogue).
Here’s one of the more important things I’ve found when using this setup:
When adding files/folders to your main (MEDIA tower) iTunes library, make SURE you add the songs by their NETWORK path (not the media computer’s hard drive path). This way, when you open the iTunes library from another computer, it will start looking for the files via the correct computer name, not the computer from which you opened iTunes (localhost and hard drive path). This just makes things a little easier when opening files from various (multiple) computers.
If you’ve got \\MEDIA\ set in your iTunes Media folder location under iTunes’ preferences, this should happen automatically. But I’ve found that sometimes iTunes will still use the hard (localhost) hard drive file path.
For instance, if I’ve got three computers named MEDIA, DEATHSTAR, and CARL, and my main file repository is on MEDIA (this is where the main iTunes library that I open from other computers exists), when I add a folder or file to the MEDIA library, I need to be sure the file or folder is being added from the network not he hard drive path. If the file path is using the hard drive path on the computer, change the file path to \\MEDIA\ instead of E:\Music\ (for instance). This way, when I open the library on DEATHSTAR or CARL, iTunes won’t try to look for the files from localhost\\E:\ and will instead start from the network path \\MEDIA\.
A few people have asked why I would want to open the actual library file instead of just playing from the shared library. The reason is because I want to make any changes I make to the songs, ratings, playlists, etc. show up in the main iTunes library file (so the changes are reflected on all computers).
The only major downside I’ve found so far with this method is that it can take iTunes a LONG time to “checking iTunes library” when opening the networked iTunes library.