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I would like to use my laptop as the syncing point for my iPhone, but I don't like having my music collection on the laptop. Is there a way I can sync my iPhone with my laptop and still be able to add music files to the iPhone while maintaining my music on the desktop?

I have a Macbook Air as laptop and a Mac mini as desktop. The Mac mini is my current sync point for both my iPhone and my music collection.

Can I share the music folder on the desktop via NFS and mount it on the laptop?

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If you are running iOS 5, a new feature actually allows you to do the Wifi sync between multiple computers, just with different types of content.

Your process may be slightly more difficult because you want to have mostly everything sync from a new computer. This will be a lot easier to explain/walk through if you were almost starting from scratch on the iPhone, or just adding a new syncing device. So for some preliminary work, you will at least need to:

  • Make sure you are using iOS 5
  • Have iTunes 10.5 at least installed
  • Make sure you are ok possibly loosing backups. Since this is complicated now (iCloud vs iTunes backup, etc), its really outside the scope.
  • Are ok using Wifi Sync
  • Make sure that your MacBook Air has the content you want to sync to the device on it.

At this point, im assuming the above has been done.

  1. On the Mini, plug in the iPhone and make sure Wifi Sync is enabled. Also disable all other content sync except for music.
  2. Unplug from Mini, and plug into a charger (just to be safe) and test wifi syncing.
  3. Make sure the sync is fully complete on your Mini.
  4. On your Air, the iPhone should now show up, as long as they are on the same network.
  5. Setup sync on the MacBook Air, and select the content that you wish to sync (as in, everything except music).
  6. Click Apply, so the sync starts.

At that point, you should be done. On the iPhone, if you go to Settings -> General -> iTunes Wifi Sync, it should now show the Mac Mini syncing music, and the MacBook Air syncing apps/photos/etc. I also had to restart my phone for this to show up correctly.

wifi sync

There is a little more information available at

As for your final question, yes, you could mount your iTunes Music from your Mini on your laptop, but iTunes on the laptop would need to have its own library, and using multiple libraries like this is rather complicated and dangerous. It can easily lead to confusion if you delete something from one library, because it won't be removed from the other.

To share the folder, go to System Preferences, Sharing, and select File Sharing. Then you can either drag the music folder to the first list, or click the '+' to add the folder.

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This is a great workaround and will meet my needs. Keeping pictures/apps/etc on the Air will be fine since they don't take up that much space. And syncing the music via the mini with a larger HD is great. Thank you. – Jason Mar 29 '12 at 17:37
Do keep in mind that it may 'just work' or seem clunky. When I was trying to document this, I had a heck of a time for things to show up right, but I think that was because I had iTunes up on both machines, etc. I do know it really does work though, synced some photos from my Air. I may actually switch to something like this soon myself. – jmlumpkin Mar 29 '12 at 17:47

I dont know about mounting the folder but You can add all the music to the laptop and iTunes, Sync the phone, and once it has fully synced, you can then delete the files from their location, do not delete them in or from iTunes, just the iTunes folder.

Now when you sync again, the iPhone will not try to sync songs as they are already synced and you do not have any music files on the laptop.

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