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

Before beginning, you should be aware of a few restrictions with iTunes sharing:

  1. You can only listen to shared iTunes libraries on your local network (on your wireless network, in your house, in your office, etc.). This is great for offices, dorms, or homes with multiple computers and can work with up to five computers.
  2. You cannot listen to iTunes Store-purchased songs from another computer unless your computer has been authorized to play that content. If it hasn't been, you'll have to content yourself with listening to music ripped from CDs or downloaded in other ways.
  3. You cannot listen to purchases or QuickTime sound files.

​​NOTE: This kind of 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.

That said, here's how to enable iTunes sharing.

Turn on iTunes Sharing

iTunes sharing, step 2
S. Shapoff

Begin by going to iTunes and opening your Preferences window (it's in the iTunes menu on a Mac and the Edit menu on a PC). Select the sharing icon at the top of the list.

At the top of the window, you'll a checkbox: Share my library on my local network. This is the option that turns on sharing. 

Once you've checked that box, you'll see a set of options light up which lists libraries, playlists, and types of files.

  • You can share your entire iTunes library by checking the Share entire library box.
  • Alternatively, choose the content you want to share by clicking the Share selected playlists box and then the appropriate buttons below.
  • You can also set a password to access your library if you want. This may be useful in a situation where you don't want everyone on your network to access your content.

Select ​OK when you're done.

Dealing With Firewalls

iTunes sharing, step 3
S. Shapoff

If you have a firewall enabled on your computer, this may block others from connecting to your iTunes library. To solve this, you need to make a rule for the firewall that allows iTunes sharing. How you do this will depend on your firewall software.

How to Work Around a Firewall on Mac

  1. Go to the Apple menu in the upper left-hand corner of your screen.
  2. Choose the System Preferences option.
  3. Choose the Security & Privacy option and click on the Firewall tab.
  4. If your Firewall settings are locked, click the lock icon at the bottom left of the window and enter your password.
  5. Select the Advanced button at the bottom right of the window. Select the iTunes icon and set it to allow incoming connections.

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. 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. Open Windows Firewall (go to Control Panel and search for Firewall).
  2. Choose All an app or feature through Windows Firewall in the left menu.
  3. A list of apps will appear and you can navigate to iTunes.
  4. If the Private or Public checkboxes are not marked, select the Change Settings button.
  5. You will then be able to check those boxes (Private will most likely be all that's needed).
  6. Select OK.

Find and Use Shared ITunes Libraries

iTunes sharing, step 4
S. Shapoff

Once you've enabled sharing, any shared iTunes libraries that you can access will appear in the left-hand menu of iTunes along with your music, playlists, and iTunes Store icons.

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

Tip: If you do not see Show Sidebar in the View menu, try clicking Playlists in the navigation bar (under the apple). This may also be a sign that you need to update to the latest version of iTunes.

To access another library, just click on the one you want to listen to and then navigate it as if it were your own. You'll be able to see whatever the other user wants you to —​ ​library, playlists, and more.