iTunes Home Sharing – What is it?

iTunes 9 brought us a new feature along with the store’s redesign – Home Sharing. Like many new features in Apple’s software, it’s either “What’s this for?” or “I must have it!”.

So, let’s take a look at Home Sharing and see: What exactly is it?, Why would you use it?, and finally What if it doesn’t work?

What is Home Sharing?

Home Sharing is Apple’s way of allowing a family or group of people (roomates, dormmates, couples) to share their purchased iTunes content across five different computers without a hassle. All you do is set it up with one iTunes Store Account and anything that account purchased can be streamed, transferred and used with up to 5 authorized devices.

Note: An authorized device can be anything with iTunes running on it – a MacBook, iMac, AppleTV, Minis, iPods, iPhones, or a PC running iTunes.

Important to know:

Home Sharing does not overcome the single iTunes Music Store account limitation. This means that only one person’s iTunes Store account may be shared and used.

If you have multiple accounts, you’ll have to pick on the use or just disable Home Sharing and re-enable it for the other account. You can only use one account at a time.

Not just for music…

In addition to syncing purchased music across devices, you can also sync purchased TV Shows, Movies, and iPhone/iPod Touch Apps. This is actually very cool if you have multiple iPhones in your family.

Setting up Home Sharing:

It’s pretty easy to set up Home Sharing. Here’s what you do:

– Open iTunes and click on Home Sharing in the sidebar.

Using iTunes Home Share

– Enter the iTunes Music Store account you’ll be sharing.

Using iTunes Home Share

– Click “Create HomeShare”.

Note: If your OS X firewall settings are set to block Home Sharing, you will get a prompt telling you so. Open your firewall settings and allow Home Sharing.

Using iTunes Home Share

– Now, repeat this step for the rest of your shared computers using the same iTunes Store account.

Using iTunes Home Sharing:

Once you’ve enabled home sharing, you will see the shared home share in the sidebar. You can now either stream the purchased content from the shared library or transfer it to your Mac.

Troubleshooting:

As easy as Home Sharing is, sometimes it doesn’t work. The following are some common troubleshooting steps to make sure it works.

– Make sure you’re connected to your network. Check that the Airport is on and you have a connection (Black stripes in the Airport symbol). If you use a wired connection, make sure the cables are plugged in.

– Make sure your Airport Base Station or Router is turned on and functioning properly.

– Make sure iTunes Sharing is configured and running on all machines. This could trip you up if you are moving between iTunes accounts often or disabling sharing when you are finished.

– Check the Firewall restrictions on both devices and on your router. If you use a third party router (Linksys, D-Link, Netgear), the ports you’ll need open are: TCP 3689 and UDP 5353.

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