How to Set Up & Use iTunes Home Sharing

iTunes Home Sharing
image credit: Eva Katalin Kondoros/E+/Getty Images

Do you live in a house that has more than one computer? If so, there's probably more than one iTunes library in the house, too. With so much music under one roof, have you ever thought it would be great to be able to simply share songs between these libraries? I've got good news: There is! It's a feature of iTunes called Home Sharing.

iTunes Home Sharing Explained

Apple introduced iTunes Home Sharing in iTunes 9 as a way to enable multiple computers in a single house that are all connected to the same Wi-Fi network to share music. With Home Sharing turned on, you can listen to the music in another iTunes library in your house and copy music from other libraries to your computers or iPhones and iPods. All devices connected via Home Sharing must use the same Apple ID.

Home Sharing is good for more than just music, though. If you have a second-generation Apple TV or newer, it's also the way that you share music and photos to your Apple TV to enjoy in the living room.

It sounds pretty great, right? If you're convinced, here's what you need to know to set it up.

How to Turn On iTunes Home Sharing

To begin with, make sure that the computers and iOS devices that you want to be able to share are all connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Home Sharing doesn't let you connect a computer at your home to one at your office, for instance.

With that done, to enable Home Sharing on your computer, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have iTunes 9 or higher. Home Sharing is not available in earlier versions. Learn how to upgrade iTunes, if necessary.
  2. Click the File menu
  3. Click Home Sharing
  4. Click Turn On Home Sharing
  5. In order to turn on Home Sharing, log in using your Apple ID (aka iTunes Store account) for the account you want to share from
  6. Click Turn On Home Sharing. This will turn on Home Sharing and make your iTunes library available to another computer on the same Wi-Fi network. A pop-up message will let you know when it's done
  7. Repeat these steps for any other computer or device you want to make available via Home Sharing.

Enabling Home Sharing on iOS Devices

To share music from your iOS devices using Home Sharing, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap Music
  3. Scroll down to Home Sharing and tap Sign In
  4. Enter your Apple ID and tap Sign In.

And with that done, Home Sharing is enabled. Learn how to use it on the next page.

Using Other iTunes Libraries Via Home Sharing

To access computers and other devices available to you via Home Sharing:

  • In iTunes 12, click the menu in the top left corner of iTunes. Depending on the version of iTunes 12 you have, this is either a house icon or just a menu with options like Music, TV, and Movies in it. In the menu, you'll see the name of any other computer available to you. To view that computer's music library, click it.
  • In iTunes 11, click on the View menu and then choose Show Sidebar (in earlier versions of iTunes, the sidebar is shown at all times). Look for the Shared section in the left-hand tray in iTunes to find other iTunes libraries you can access.

When you click the other computer's library, it loads in your main iTunes window. With the other library loaded, you can:

  • Browse the other computer's iTunes music library
  • Copy songs or albums from the other computer to yours. To do this, click on the ... icon next to the song or album you want to copy, then click Import or Import Album
  • Browse other kinds of media—TV Shows, Movies, Apps, Audiobooks—from the other computer. They can be imported to your library in a similar way to music.

When you're done with the other computer, you should eject it from yours if you don't plan to use it again soon. To do this, click the menu where you selected it originally and click the eject button next to it. The computer will still be available to you via Home Sharing; it just won't be connected at all times.

Sharing Photos With Home Sharing

As noted earlier, Home Sharing is one way to get your photos to your Apple TV for display on the big screen. To choose what photos are sent to your Apple TV, follow these steps:

  1. In iTunes, click File
  2. Click Home Sharing
  3. Click Choose Photos to Share with Apple TV
  4. This opens the Photo Sharing Preferences window. In it, you can choose what photo app you share from, whether you share some or all of your photos, the Photo Albums you want to share, and more. Check the boxes next to your selection, and then click Done
  5. Launch the Photos app on your Apple TV.

Turning Off iTunes Home Sharing

If you no longer want to share your iTunes library with other devices, turn off Home Sharing by following these steps: 

  1. In iTunes, click the File menu
  2. Click Home Sharing
  3. Click Turn Off Home Sharing.