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Now that I've had my iPhone for a few months, I'm trying an experiment to see if I can't replace the laptop I carry around with my iPhone + internet connected computer. To this end, I've been trying to find a program that will let me play the music on my iPhone through the hardware and software on the host computer.

If I recall correctly this was possible a few years ago with the iPod - Linux software like Rhythmbox and Banshee was able to read the music off an iPod and play it through the speakers. I even thought I recalled iTunes itself being capable of this at one time.

Now, however, iTunes greys out/disables the music on my iPhone and I can't find any documented support for the iPhone in any other music program. Is this really no longer possible? Am I limited to using the headphone jack to get music to play?

(note: I am using an iPhone 3G with the 3.0 software. I am attempting to play music on computers other than the one I sync with)

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Kyle: If you have a backup of all your media (which i assume you do seeing you are syncing it), just try it anyway. It cannot hurt. –  David Pearce Jul 21 '09 at 5:04

10 Answers 10

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I know I'm replying on an old question, but I came in here googling. My iPhone 4 had the same behavior, I just updated to iTunes 10 and I my music is no longer greyed out.

In essence: upgrade to iTunes 10 and you should be able to do this.

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I just tried it and it works! Thanks for noticing and posting this! –  Kyle Cronin Sep 3 '10 at 18:15
    
This seems to have stopped working with iTunes 11 –  Richard Gadsden Dec 7 '12 at 10:34

The only way to play the music from your iPod or iPhone is to set iTunes to 'Manually manage music and videos' on your device.

To do this just select your iPhone under 'Devices' on the left, and make sure "Manually manage music and videos" is selected.

Click 'Apply', and now your music should not be greyed out and you are free to play it. You should then be able to use Apple's Remote iPhone application to control iTunes from your device.

Edit: If you have all your music (and everything else) backed up already, just try it. iTunes can manage iPods funny sometimes and can do strange things (such as warnings like you describe that don't amount to anything). I have done this before to watch a video on another and no content was removed from my iPod touch at all.

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I don't know if it was the "erase and sync" or the "manually manage music setting" but all the music is now gone from my iPhone. –  Kyle Cronin Jul 21 '09 at 5:14
    
It was the erase and sync. Making it manually manage your music will leave it intact but will no longer check up against the computer library, at least, from my experience. You could easily get your music back provided it's in your library of course. –  Jorge Israel Peña Jul 21 '09 at 5:35
    
I use manually manage all the time to access my library on my iPod with other computers. Works a treat. I just wish iTunes didnt always ask if you wanted to erase, sync, transfer purchaces, buy a jet every time you connect :p –  OrangeBox Jan 31 '12 at 0:28

I came across this question via a Google search and registered just to post what I've discovered relating to this problem. I have a similar situation: I have a home computer that I'm using to sync music with my iPhone 3G S, and a work computer that I'd like to play the music on (without copying the music to the computer). The work computer can see all of the music but it is all greyed out, and when I do the "Erase and Sync" dance I get the same results that you do.

Until I got my iPhone last week I used to play its music through my work computer without issue with my 80GB iPod 5.5 gen.

Despite what the other answers here say, everything I've read indicates that this is not possible with an iPhone. I suspect that the other people who have said it works do it with their iPods and just assume it works with the iPhone as well.

Disappointed that I was losing a feature important to me by replacing my iPod with an iPhone, I set out to find a workaround. The best one I've found so far is this:

http://www.andrewgrant.org/2008/03/30/how-to-sync-an-iphone-with-two-or-more-computers.html

The author refers to this technique as a method to allow you to sync with two computers, but I've found it also enables playback of my iPhone's music flawlessly on my work computer. You are essentially tricking the iPhone into thinking it's connected to the exact same instance of iTunes in either location.

Hope this helps you!

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Thanks for your answer - sorry it's taken me a while to respond. I tried your suggestion the other day - iTunes successfully believed that it was the syncing computer for my iPhone; unfortunately, the lack of music and apps on the computer caused it to wipe them off my iPhone as well. :-/ I might give it another try in the future, but right now I can't figure out how to get it to leave my stuff on my device. –  Kyle Cronin Dec 3 '09 at 19:49
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Well, I think the point of this hack is that it suppresses the "Do you want to erase everything?" dialog box when you check the "Manually Manage Music and Movies" checkbox. Checking that box, combined with ensuring that "Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected" is NOT checked, means that you can plug in your iPhone and listen to the music on it, and it won't touch the files on it unless you manually press the "Sync" button. This is what I do: I use my computer at home to sync, and I play music through my work computer without ever syncing it. –  Colin M Dec 10 '09 at 15:32
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BTW, I can't remember for sure, but I think after I completed this hack it did automatically sync (and erase everything) the first time I plugged my iPhone into my work computer. But after I made sure that automatic sync was disabled, it hasn't done it since. Good luck! –  Colin M Dec 10 '09 at 15:34

Run this program on your computer:

http://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/speakers.php

If it's a Mac, what you want is Airfoil Speakers for Mac. When the program is running, start playing music on your iOS device. Look in the little menu to right of the start/pause buttons in the iOS device screen. You'll see your computer listed there! Choose it. The sound from your iOS device is now coming out of your computer. If the computer is connected to speakers and using them as its output, the sound is coming out of those speakers.

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You can do this with iTunes itself. Enable "manual sync mode" and you can then read right off the disk for playback.

Here is an article with further details.

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You're talking about DAAP, which is what is used to present and stream music in iTunes (although iTunes also has encryption & friends, but we'll leave that out of the conversation for the moment).

I think that this article on an app that allows you to turn your iPhone into a DAAP server might be of considerable interest to you. As in, it allows you to stream your music from your iPhone to another DAAP-capable client, like iTunes...or Banshee...or Rhythmbox...

Anyways, if that doesn't work, you at least know what you're looking for...and that's half the battle. Find a DAAP server for iPhone and you're pretty much set.

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I think that DAAP works through the network, and I was hoping to connect through the cable. Besides, it looks like it requires a jailbroken iPhone. –  Kyle Cronin Jul 22 '09 at 3:55

Here is a simple solution for those wanting to play music on iphone through the computer that I am doing. Use your pc speakers simpy as headphones for the iphone. Just plug in a 3.5mm jack into the pc audio in (microphone) receptacle and run it to the iphone headphones jack. Problem solved, you do not have to transfer the songs on your phone to the computer, all controlled by the iphone.

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Like Scott said- Just plug your i phone into your speaker jack on the speaker with the volume controls (headset location) with a 1/8 inch jack and it plays through your computer speakers. –  user19880 Mar 9 '12 at 14:31

Try using manual sync? I have only an iPod Classic, but I can still play the music on other computer's using iTunes when I use manual sync...

I believe I remember reading somewhere that with Auto Sync, you can only use your own library no matter what.

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update your firmware to the latest iOS firmware, then download a program called shairport4w. Open it up and select the "change" option, then rename the Name and create a password. Now start playing music on your iphone and press the icon next to the next track button (it looks like a Arrow pointing into a rectangle) And choose the option that will be whatever you named your computer in shirport4w. you will now be able to play your music through your PC's Speakers - you can change the volume through your iphone/ipod touch.

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Thanks for your answer, Jake! Can you please add more information about the software you mentioned? What is shairport4w (or shirport4w) Please add a link to the software so that the OP can use it. –  daviesgeek Jun 12 '12 at 20:08

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