For many years, I have had a set of mp3 files on a NAS that I manually managed (I've been picky about artist/album/track naming). The two Macbooks in our house each have their own iTunes libraries (the itl and xml files) on their respective local drives at ~/Music/iTunes/. To add music, I just make sure the SMB or AFP share is mounted and then do "Add to Library" in iTunes, pointing it at the top of the music file tree on the mounted directory from the NAS. This has worked fine for years.

Now, I'm thinking I would like the entire iTunes folder (everything from ~/Music/iTunes and below) to live on the NAS and just let iTunes keep the music organized in a folder below this directory. But, I'd like still like to have both MacBooks keep their own library. We both manage syncing to iDevices by "sync only checked songs..." so we need our own version of what is checked and unchecked along with our own smart playlists.

Is what I'm trying to do possible? What if I play games with symlinks on the NAS (it's a Linux box running Samba and netatalk.)


3 Answers 3


iTunes keeps a lock file in the directory to see if there is an instance of iTunes running - only one is allowed at a time.

Similarly, if you're using the same directory, each version of iTunes will overwrite the library file, so trying to maintain two different sets of music within one tree isn't really possible. At least, that's what happened last time I tried this.

You're better off having Home Sharing enabled, and then having one Macbook at a time run iTunes pointing to the library.

The other can then use a blank dummy library, and play whatever the first is sharing through Home Sharing. Either can run in each role, just hold down Option at start-up to decide if you want to use.

Personally, given a family with a bunch of iPhones, AppleTVs, and laptops, I have a single iTunes server machine that is always on, with a very large library. All music is in my iTunes Match account, all videos can be synced over the air through home sharing, and wireless syncing. It's the closest I've found to an iTunes server device.


My solution for that is having only one computer managing the library. First it was a PC running iTunes for Windows. Then, I moved to Ubuntu and started using Banshee for both managing the library and keeping my iPod updated. Finally, I have a Mac Book Pro and I have moved back to iTunes.

The Linux server, running both Samba and Netatalk, acts also as a mediacenter (with XBMC) that shares music also over uPNP, so I can access and play music from virtually any network device, even from the Internet.

In the past I've tried other schemas involving iTunes and network filesystems and it always turned into a headache.


You can have one mac rule the remote library, store it's playlists there (and create lock files, keep the library organized, etc...) but you'll want to keep a local library on the second and subsequent libraries and have them just import the songs and playlists from XML and store their library but not their media in a distinct folder - one folder per secondary library.

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