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I have a desktop system that I use as a server. I also have a MacBook Pro that is my main computer. I've done a lot of organization and cleanup of my music library and have it all on my MacBook Pro.

I'd like to be able to keep the music library on my MacBook Pro in sync with the desktop machine so that my wife can access everything from her own MacBook Pro.

I thought about setting up folder actions that would copy the files into the "Automatically add to iTunes" folder. However, since I like to use the "keep my iTunes library organized" option, the files get moved into the iTunes music directory and I can't write a script that will compare my MacBook Pro's iTunes music library with the "Automatic" directory on the server.

Also, a simple file copy will not sync metadata like ratings and plays. Is there a free, automated solution for syncing iTunes libraries between 2 Macs?

Below is how I finally did it based on the rsync suggestion:

I used the link provided by James in this answer (but I took out the "--size-only" option after the first sync):

iTunes Utility - Merging Libraries

I also took out the --force option because it's redundant when using the --delete option. so my rsync command looks like this:

rsync -av --delete ~/Music/iTunes/ /Volumes/robert/Music/iTunes > ~/Automation/automator/logs/itunes_rsync.log

I then integrated this into an Automator workflow. Looks like this: Get Specified Servers --> Connect to Servers --> Run Shell Script --> Eject Disk.

Creating it as an iCal Workflow is screwy for me because I use MobileMe and the iCal event gets synced with my other machines where I don't want this workflow to run. So instead, I created an agent using Lingon that runs the workflow every 8 hours.

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Why not share your library over Bonjour so she can access your music? Or is there something else you want her to do? –  Martín Marconcini Sep 2 '10 at 12:47
    
I am sharing over Bonjour, but my MBP is not on all the time. The desktop machine shares over Bonjour as well, and that is always on. I do all my ripping, conversion, tagging, etc on my MBP. I want the music on my MBP for when I'm not at home, and I want everything to also be constantly shared at home as well. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 2 '10 at 13:53
    
rsync works wonders. –  GreenKiwi Sep 23 '11 at 5:12
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Why not just use Home Sharing? –  timothymh Feb 5 '12 at 15:57
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7 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's possible to keep libraries in sync using rsync. Google for iTunes and rsync and you'll find some solutions.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

How large is your library? Dropbox has helped many people in this situation, and it will work from anywhere.


UPDATE

Do you use only one computer at a time? Are you the only user of iTunes in each computer? Is your desktop a Mac with the same version of iTunes?

If so, observe this scenario:

You backup your desktop's ~/Music/iTunes folder and then delete it. You then copy the entire ~/Music/iTunes folder from the Macbook Pro to the desktop.

You have your laptop out of the house. You rip a new CD or download some tracks from iTunes or Amazon.com, etc. (but put a copy of the new song files aside in another folder temporarily), then listen, rate songs, etc. all day. Then when you get home, you copy the new files to the Automatically Add to iTunes folder on the desktop and iTunes does its magic of organizing the music files (just like on your Macbook Pro!) Then you replace everything inside the ~/Music/iTunes folder on your desktop with what's on your Macbook Pro EXCEPT the ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media folder (where the actual songs reside).

Voilà!

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about 25 GB and growing quickly :P –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 2 '10 at 19:38
    
This might work, I'll give it a try. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 9 '10 at 5:58
    
this ended up being a little too labor intensive and manual for me :P –  Robert S Ciaccio Oct 6 '10 at 18:55
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I have not tried this, but would like to some time: Mashduo. I found this via the excellent One Thing Well website: "A utility for OS X that lets you compare two iTunes libraries, generating a report of songs that don’t appear in both libraries and (optionally) making a zip archive of the missing tracks."

Sounds like some manual work, but may be another approach to achieve what you need.

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You go to the little tab at the top that says "iTunes." Click it, go to preferences. Then go to Sharing. Then click "Share my library with my local library." Then click it to share my entire playlist on other home computers. and change whatever you want, then you should be able to access your entire library on all the computers that are registered in your home system.

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this unfortunately just streams, the files remain on the computer doing the sharing. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 19 '11 at 0:22
    
See @Henry's answer –  Mark Sep 27 '12 at 1:24
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Soon iCloud will do this for you w/o all of that trouble. Just connect up the libraries and presto (in theory).

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i don't really want to use a cloud service... data storage is so cheap these days i just want my stuff to stay in sync and be available to me at all times on whatever machine i choose. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 19 '11 at 0:21
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I use skydrive, its free and has 7Gb of space.

1 - Create a hotmail or live account if you dont have it.

2- Then go to skydrive.com log in and install the app. (also need to log in the app the first time).

3 - On the PC or Mac, where you have the main music collection (i suggest to gather all your music to the same computer at first), then you create a folder for your music inside Skydrive's folder and past all your music there.

4 - Then on itunes (reset itunes is HIGHLY recommended) go to "Preferences" > "Advanced Preferences" and choose as "itunes media folder" the music folder inside Skydrive. Also check both options "Keep Itunes Folder organized", this one is a must for to this to work so both Itunes (or more) can read your musics with no conflicts and the second options "Copy files to Itunes Media folder when adding to library" this one isn't a must but extremely useful because helps you to add new music to your collection, with this option ON you can simply drag a music from your desktop to your itunes with the option OFF you MUST put the music on the skydrive music folder.

5 - For the other computers you want to sync the library, repeat step 2 and 4 (dont need to repeat step 3).

This works for windows and mac. This works OUT SIDE of a home network Your computer will start syncing the second you turn on the computer just make skydrive to startup with the OS. So when you turn on itunes you will have your music there.

cheers, berna

EDIT: btw i dont recommend to use Home sharing feature, i try it out and duplicated all my music (In My Place 2.mp3) inside the skydrive folder...

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Home sharing does not duplicate the library, it allows streaming of iTunes content in a LAN. I wonder what you did to actually duplicate your library. –  patrix Sep 9 '12 at 21:11
    
What happens when two users are modifying the iTunes library at the same time? After all, the iTunes folder does not only contain Media files, but also some metadata. Long story short: I do not approve of this approach. –  myhd Sep 26 '12 at 21:26
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I haven't tried this yet (although I am going to soon) but I believe the newest version of Dropbox has a lan sync. So that you can tell it NOT to backup your music over the internet (if it's larger than your plan allows) but keep them synced over the lan.

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I don't think that they have an option to "only" have LAN sync. I'd love to hear if they do because it's something that I really want. I want to have a chunk of my data only synced between my computers and other data synced up to the cloud. –  GreenKiwi Aug 26 '11 at 16:25
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i have too much data to do this via dorpbox, and GreenKiwi is correct in that it's not an option you can choose as far as "only sync on lan". It still uses your dropbox quota and works the same as all other dropbox files. It's meant as a performance improvement, where your lan computers can talk at high speed to each other rather than downloading everything from dropbox's servers over the internet. –  Robert S Ciaccio Sep 19 '11 at 0:24
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