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I have a MacMini with my music collection on the hard drive. I'd like to play that through my iPad when I'm at home. But I have one major issue: I'm on satellite internet with a limited bandwidth. One month I got hit with an extra $200 bill because I left iTunes running and it wasted gigabytes of bandwidth "updating" the music on my iMac from the iCloud. (I don't store my music on my iMac - it's all on a shared drive on my MacMini.)

So I don't want to go through iTunes to do this (and, after that experience, I never run iTunes on my iMac or MacMinis), since that means I'm streaming my collection from the iCloud servers and using bandwidth.

I want to be able to make up playlists on my iPad (I'm okay with a 3rd party app) of the music files on the shared drive of my MacMini and play it back through my iPad, using wifi, but not using any internet bandwidth.

How can I make up playlists on my iPad for music on a shared drive on my LAN so I can use the playlists like I would normally use them? (In other words, being able to pick out a playlist, shuffle play it, repeat it, and so on.)

  • I'll also add, in case it comes up, that I've tried to use VLC, but it simply will not log into my MacMini and read the shared volumes (and I do have SMB on in my sharing for the necessary folder). I've tried using the server name and the server IP address, logging in as a guest and under my username. I've tried everything in multiple combinations and VLC just won't log in! – Tango Feb 12 at 19:46
  • iTunes does not stream from servers unless you tell it to - I think the thing which does is Apple Music and you need to pay for that. I just buy downloads from iTunes store and buy CDs - no streaming from the internet – Mark Feb 12 at 23:44
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    iTunes on the Mac, and Music on iOS, will stream in the following cases: you have purchased music from the iTunes Store but not downloaded it; you have subscribed to iTunes Match and play a track with is Matched or Uploaded but not downloaded to the device; or you have subscribed to Apple Music and play a track which is not downloaded. @Tango can you clarify whether you have iTunes Match and/or Apple Music? – nekomatic Feb 13 at 9:21
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Here are a few possible solutions:

Plex

I haven't used this but it appears to do exactly what you ask for. Install the free server on the Mac and the (paid) app on the iPad. You don't need to sign up for a subscription and it says you don't even need to sign in to stream from a local server, which should help assure you that no streaming from the internet will take place.

Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil

Install Airfoil for Mac on the Mac Mini where your music is and Airfoil Satellite for iOS on the iPad.

Airfoil is not free, but you can try it before you buy and it should work reliably and is well supported. It routes any audio source(s) you choose on the Mac to play simultaneously on one or more compatible destinations - so you can use any Mac audio player you like, including but not limited to iTunes. Airfoil Satellite has basic remote control capabilities for some applications such as iTunes and Spotify, but you would need something else to create and edit playlists - I'm pretty sure Apple's iTunes Remote can do this, for example, or if you use VLC on the Mac there's VLC Mobile Remote for the iPad.

Logitech Media Server

The server you run on the Mac is free, on the iPad you would need the SqueezePad client app (paid).

DLNA

Install a UPnP/DLNA media server such as Kodi (free) on the Mac and use a DLNA client app for iOS - I don't know which to recommend, but there are lots to choose from including some free ones.

iTunes

You say you don't want to use iTunes and iOS Music because of the risk of it using too much data. I'm not sure whether you're talking about iTunes on the Mac Mini downloading purchased or matched (if you have iTunes Match) tracks, or Music on the iPad streaming these tracks or playing from Apple Music (if you have Apple Music), but there are two ways you should be able to use Music on the iPad without this happening:

  • Sync the music from iTunes on the Mac to the iPad via USB. You will need enough storage on the iPad to fit it! In Music on the iPad, make sure you only play from within the Downloaded Music section of your library.
  • Turn on Home Sharing on iTunes and only play from within the Home Sharing section of your library. I (and others) have never found Home Sharing to work reliably but feel free to try it.

The only problem with these two is if you accidentally play music from outside the Home Sharing or Downloaded sections of the library.

Block streaming traffic on your router

A final suggestion, depending on what router and/or other equipment for the satellite internet connection you have: is there a setting you can make to block or throttle streaming audio traffic, and/or iTunes downloads? I don't know what servers, protocols or ports you would need to block but you might be able to get that answered with another question here.

  • You're talking about using iTunes. So do I need Airfoil Satellite on my iPad if I'm going to use iTunes? – Tango Feb 12 at 16:58
  • Sorry, I missed where you said you didn't want to use iTunes. You can use any audio player you like on the Mac but iTunes is probably the easiest to control from Satellite. I think you should be able to set up iTunes so that it doesn't send or receive anything to/from the internet. You can probably even do the same with Spotify which can also be controlled from Satellite to some extent (last time I checked the Spotify app on Mac could discover and play local audio as well as streaming from Spotify itself). If you find another audio player with an iOS remote-control app, you can use that. – nekomatic Feb 12 at 17:56
  • I can use iTunes on the iPad, as long as I'm going through my LAN and connecting with my MacMini that way, instead of using iTunes to play my music through Apple's normal procedure (streaming it from iCloud servers). So are you talking about using Satellite to control iTunes, or to use iTunes and have it take input from Satellite? – Tango Feb 12 at 19:45
  • Sounds like I still haven't explained it well, sorry! Please see my edit. When you say 'iTunes on the iPad' I assume you mean the Music app, or are you on quite an old version of iOS? – nekomatic Feb 13 at 9:15
  • Okay. I tried Plex, but the first thing it did was force me to set up an account and it wouldn't do a thing without me doing that. That's a concern for me because it means it stays in contact with their server and I have no idea how much data it sends back and forth, so I skipped that. I tried Kodi, but this is running on my MacMini, which I control through Screen Sharing. Kodi does something obnoxious with the pointer. The first thing it wanted me to do is tell it what the share directory is. 5 minutes later, due to the pointer issue, I was still trying to set it up. (See next comment.) – Tango 2 days ago
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I do this using iTunes (I do not have apple music so there is no syncing to the cloud)

In iTunes on the Mac or pc turn on sharing in Preferences -> sharing -> Share y library on my local network. (So the option for sharing will not use the cloud)

On your iPad go to Settings->Music At the bottom is Home sharing - you need the same Apple Id that you use in iTunes (which does not have to be the same as that for iCloud)

On th ipad the mac's play lists appear in the submenu shared libraries at the bottom of the iPad library entries and choose the name of the shared library.

See Apple's documentation https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT202190

  • I never knew iTunes could do anything like this. But, for some reason, it gives me a few play lists (like last 25 played) and that includes a playlist or two that are not mine. (Maybe generic titles?) But not one of my own playlists or music tracks show up. – Tango Feb 13 at 3:26
  • If the playlists are there on the Mac, I think you should be able to see them in the Home Sharing library on the iOS device. But I've never found Home Sharing to be usable, frankly - for me it always takes ages trying to read the library before giving up and showing a small fraction of the content that should be there. – nekomatic Feb 13 at 9:18
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That's only a suggestion, but have a look at MusicStreamer. There may be alternatives to that app, but that's pretty much what you are looking for, I think.

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