How to Use Multiple iTunes Libraries on a Single Computer

Keep everyone's music in the same place

It's possible to have multiple iTunes libraries, with separate content, on one computer. This lesser-known feature helps you keep multiple people's music, movies, and apps separate and lets you sync multiple iPods, iPhones, or iPads to a single computer without getting other people's music on your device unintentionally. Other options include using playlists and multiple user accounts.

These instructions apply to iTunes 9.2 and higher.

How to Create Multiple iTunes Libraries

Having multiple iTunes libraries is similar to having two separate computers, each with iTunes. The libraries are completely separate: Music, movies, or apps that you add to one library won't appear in the other unless you copy the files to it (with one exception).

To create multiple iTunes libraries on your computer, follow these steps:

  1. Quit iTunes if it's running.

  2. Press and hold the Option key (on Mac) or the Shift key (on Windows) and click the iTunes icon to launch the program.

    A Mac desktop with the iTunes icon in the Dock highlighted
  3. Release the key when the Choose iTunes Library window appears, then select Create Library.

    Choose iTunes Library window open on a Mac with the Create Library button highlighted
  4. In the Save As text box, enter a name for the new iTunes library.

    Give the new library a name that is different from the existing library or libraries to make it easy to locate the library.

    New iTunes Library dialogue box with the Save As field highlighted
  5. Select the Where drop-down menu and choose the folder where you want to store the new library on your computer.

    It may be easiest to create the new library in the existing Music/My Music folder to keep everyone's content in the same place.

    "Create New iTunes Library" menu open with the Where menu highlighted
  6. Select Save to create the new library.

    The "Create New iTunes Library" window with the Save button highlighted
  7. ​iTunes opens using the newly created library. You can add new content to it.

How to Use Multiple iTunes Libraries

Once you've created multiple iTunes libraries, here's how to switch between them:

  1. Press and hold the Option key (on Mac) or the Shift key (on Windows), then open iTunes.

  2. In the Choose iTunes Library window, select Choose Library.

    The "Choose iTunes Library" window on a Mac with the Choose Library button highlighted
  3. Another window appears, defaulting to your Music/My Music folder. If you stored your other iTunes libraries somewhere else, navigate through your computer to the location of the new library. Choose the folder for the new library and select Open.

    You don't have to select anything inside the folder.

    iTunes window on a Mac with an iTunes library folder and the Open button highlighted
  4. iTunes opens using the library you chose.

How to Manage Multiple iPods/iPhones With Multiple iTunes Library

Using this technique, two or more people using the same computer can manage their own iPods, iPhones, and iPads without interfering with each other's music or settings.

To do this, press and hold Option or Shift, open iTunes, select an iTunes library, then connect the iPhone or iPod you sync with this library. It will go through the standard syncing process, using the media in the currently active iTunes library.

The iPhone and iPod can only sync to one library at a time. If you sync with another library, iTunes removes the contents from one library and replaces the content with material from the other.

Other Notes About Managing Multiple iTunes Libraries

Here are a few things to know about managing multiple iTunes libraries on a single computer:

  • If you have multiple iTunes libraries on your computer and don't press the Option or Shift key when you launch iTunes, it opens the last library you used.
  • To make sure that each person uses only their iTunes account with their library, sign out of your iTunes account when you're done using the program.
  • When you have multiple iTunes libraries on one computer, you can't have different parental control settings for each library. To have different Restrictions settings, use multiple user accounts on the computer.

Watch out for Apple Music/iTunes Match

If you use Apple Music or iTunes Match, you must sign out of your Apple ID before quitting iTunes. Both of those services are designed to sync music to all devices using the same Apple ID. If both iTunes libraries on the same computer are signed in to the same Apple ID, iTunes automatically downloads the same music to them.

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