Sharing an iTunes Library Across Multiple Accounts on Same Machine

Mac OS X

Itunes logoSharing an iTunes library across multiple accounts on the same computer isn’t difficult…once you know the trick. And that’s the problem, the trick isn’t obvious. If you have a large family with lots of music, you might want to try this.

Creating a Family Account

First thing I did was create a “family” group on my iMac. As an admin on the machine, go to your System Preferences->Users & Groups. Create the “family” group and add all your family member accounts to it.

Create the Shared Folder

In your Finder, press <Shift>+<Command>+G. Enter /Users/Shared. This takes you to a shared user account that I just discovered. Create a Media folder here. Now copy or move your old Music folder (that contains your ITunes folder) to this /Users/Shared/Media folder. See image below:



Click on the Media folder and allow your family to have read+write access to it. Select the folder, press <CTRL>+I for information on the folder. You will be able to add your family group to the folder and add read/write permissions for this group. The image below shows the access portion of the information screen:


Click the + button to add the family group. Then change the Privilege to Read & Write. Then you might need to click on the lock icon to unlock the next option. I applied the privilege to this and all enclosed items, which conveniently provides the same access privileges to the iTunes content. You may want or need finer control on access, but we want everyone to be able to update the library.

Point iTunes to the Shared Library

Now that you have a shared library, you need to perform the repetitive task of pointing each user’s iTunes to this shared library. You can do this by logging into each user account and doing the following:

  1. While holding the <ALT/OPTION> key, click on the iTunes application.
  2. iTunes will open and ask you choose an iTunes library. Navigate to and select the shared iTunes folder you created previously.
    Choose library

That’s it. Now all your family members have access to the same iTunes library. Whether this is a good thing, I don’t know yet. If someone accidentally deletes my music collection, I’ll have to rethink this strategy.

(The iTunes logo is no doubt a trademarked image of Apple Inc., and hopefully I’m using it correctly. If not, please let me know.)

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