How to Use iTunes Sharing

Did you know that you can listen to other people's iTunes libraries from your own computer and let those people listen to yours? Well, you can by using iTunes Sharing.

Turning on iTunes Sharing is a simple preference change that can make your digital entertainment life a little more fun.

Information in this article applies to Macs and Windows PCs with iTunes 12, 11, or 10.

Limitations of iTunes Sharing

You should be aware of a few limitations with iTunes Sharing:

  • You can only listen to shared iTunes libraries on your local network in your home or office. This is great for offices, dorms, or homes with multiple computers ,and it can work with up to five computers.
  • You cannot listen to iTunes Store-purchased songs on another computer unless your computer has been authorized to play that content. If not, you have to content yourself with listening to music ripped from CDs or downloaded in other ways.
  • You cannot listen to Audible.com purchases or QuickTime sound files.

ITunes Sharing allows you to listen to other people's libraries but not copy music from them. To do that, use Home (or Family) Sharing.

Turn on iTunes Sharing

Here's how to enable iTunes Sharing.

  1. Open the iTunes Preferences by selecting iTunes > Preferences from the menu bar on a Mac or Edit > Preferences on a PC.

    Path for selection iTunes Preferences on a Mac
  2. In the Sharing tab of Preferences, check the box next to Share my library on my local network

  3. Select the button next to Share entire library to do just that. If you don’t want to share everything in your iTunes library, select Share selected playlists and then check the boxes in front of each type of content you want to share.

    The Sharing tab of iTunes Preferences
  4. To limit who can share your iTunes, check the box in front of Require password and enter a password.

  5. Click OK when you’re done.

Dealing With Firewalls

If you have a firewall enabled on your computer, it may block others from connecting to your iTunes library. To solve this, you need to instruct the firewall to allow iTunes Sharing.

How to Work Around a Firewall on Mac

If you use the Firewall that comes with the Mac, you can change a setting to permit iTunes Sharing.

  1. Go to the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen and choose System Preferences.

    Location for Apple System Preferences
  2. Select Security & Privacy.

    System Preferences screen on a Mac
  3. Click the Firewall tab. If the Firewall is turned off, you don't need to do anything.

    If the Firewall is turned on, click the lock icon at the bottom of the window and enter your password to unlock the screen. Then, click Firewall Options.

    Firewall tab in Mac System Preferences
  4. Select iTunes in the list and toggle it to Allow incoming connections. Click OK to save the change.

    Advanced Firewall options in System Preferences on a Mac

How to Work Around a Firewall on Windows

Because there are dozens of firewalls available for Windows, it's not possible to provide instructions for each one here. Instead, consult the instructions for the firewall you use to learn how to create a rule that allows iTunes sharing.

If you are using Windows 10 with no additional firewall:

  1. Go to Control Panel and search for Firewall. Open Windows Firewall.

  2. Choose Allow an app through Firewall in the left menu.

  3. A list of apps appears. Navigate to iTunes.

  4. If the Private or Public check boxes are not marked, select the Change Settings button. You can then check those boxes (Private is most likely all that's needed).

  5. Select OK.

Find and Use Shared iTunes Libraries

Any shared iTunes libraries that you can access appear in the left panel of iTunes along with your music, playlists, and iTunes Store icons.

  • In iTunes 10, that sidebar is present at all times.
  • In iTunes 11 and iTunes 12, you may need to turn on the sidebar. To do that, go to the View menu and select Show Sidebar.

To access a shared library, click on the library you want to listen to and navigate it as if it were your own. You are able to see whatever the other user wants you to —​ ​an entire library or selected options.