What iWant from Apple: an iTunes server

“As media libraries balloon with tons of music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, audiobooks, and apps, many iTunes users seek ways to organize and consolidate this content in a central location,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Kirkville. “Instead of each member of a family having content on individual Macs, it would make sense for all of this content to be stored and organized on a single computer.”

“While iTunes lets you share libraries, play content on another Mac, and even synchronize some content from one iTunes library to another using Home Sharing, the app isn’t designed to work with multiple users,” McElhearn writes. “The solution could be a server version of iTunes, which would let households organize all of their family’s media on one computer and allow each user to connect to this Mac to listen to music, view videos, and sync their iOS devices. Here are some ideas for how an iTunes server might work.”

“If Apple were to create a server version of iTunes, the app would be similar to the current version of iTunes, managing all of the content on a single computer. It would also function as a conduit for media files so they can be transferred to and from the server and stored in the master library,” McElhearn writes. “This would meet the needs of families with large amounts of media files, and eliminate the need to duplicate many of these files on different computers.”

Much more in the full article here.


    1. Yes. iTunes Match does this, at least for music – not for other types of media. Seems I heard something about a personal iCloud coming down the road that would do essentially what this writer is asking for.

    2. iTunes match kind of sucks. It goes down often. It’s often slow. It also bogs down your internet connection. Having a server with a local copy of the files you want the most is better. You can do that with iTunes, but it’s a mess. If you restart it takes a really long time for the library to come back up. iTunes is a really lousy program for serving content. Personally, I wish they would add apps to Time Capsule and Airport Extreme so you could run an iTunes server app and other media server apps. It won’t happen, of course. It’s too much of a power user feature for Apple to make available and it doesn’t fit within Apple’s very constrained feature sets for its products.

  1. Yep.
    Aside from my own NAS, a friend of mine had an old iMac that we fixed up and did a clean install on.
    From there we mounted his NAS as a centralized server for all the media in his house. (Including both his and his wife’s MacBook Pros, and iPhones, and Apple TV. It’s been a huge success for them and they couldn’t be happier.

  2. I think this would be a great tool to have available, and would certainly look into using it in my own home.
    But I highly doubt Apple would release such a tool. Apple’s focus has been on the cloud, and I imagine the Powers That Be at Apple would see this as a step backwards compared to the current strategy. Too bad, too, as there are simply too many other sources of content available (and hopefully there will *always* be many sources), where making a tool that allows Apple customers to centralize all of their content, regardless of source would be very desirable.

    1. I agree. But Apple could add it to a future Airport Extreme or Time Capsule and add apps to them. It probably won’t happen, but we can hope. Maybe they’ll make it possible to add apps to the Apple TV, including server apps.

  3. Has anyone heard of the Mac Mini server? It will do almost everything the author is describing. Plus one could add a NAS (Network Attached Storage) to the OSX Server and be able to accomplish passing files and sharing across a network. While I have not yet done this I have it in my plans to do so. I once had a Microsoft Home Server from HP and it had a program called iTunes server on it. I would pass files from my Windows machine and and my Mac to my server. I had the same songs and videos on each machine through my Windows Home Server. iTunes server would only allow me to stream songs. I would pass the MP3 or ACC files to the server and then grab them from the server from either machine. I am not as sure about videos because I did not have the chance to rip any movies before my Windows Home Server crashed. I am now an all Mac household that will get a Mac Mini server at some point and try this.

  4. I’d be happy if they would just let you specify the path to your music, the path to your movies, the path to your TV shows, etc. Just a few, little fields in the Preferences. The Home Sharing would then be fine for me. It makes me sick to think how useful iTunes (and other Apple stuff) could be.

    1. You can.
      Within your iTunes media folder, create your music folder, and create your video folder.
      when you open iTunes, hold option key and click iTunes.
      It will prompt you for the location of your iTunes folder.

      1. No. Accessing on Home Sharing won’t be able to figure that out. The Apple TV will only be able to find whatever library iTunes was started on (Movies, TV…). I’m talking about being able to put the music on one disk, TV shows on another, etc. and have iTunes manage it all to look like one, which it does well if everything is in the same folder. You can use OS-level links and stuff, but as soon as you buy something from the store things fall apart. So close.

  5. I do this already. Same iTunes library on a Mac Mini. Different accounts access the library but have unique set ups for syncing with the devices etc. Works pretty well.

  6. Bingo!

    Always thought Apple should make some kind of simple Home Server for both iCloud data and iTunes media for multiple accounts and even allow shared access to all the media from all the accounts.

    And as a bonus allow access to the server from over the Internet (a la Back To My Mac). So no matter where you are, you have access to all your data and media.

  7. Have a look at tonido.com
    They have an interesting NAS package that turns your whole computer into a NAS server. You can access your music and movies (depending on their format) as well as all the files on your computer. You can even set up ids and passwords along with specified folders, etc. It is really an interesting package for free!

  8. There actually are a bunch of solutions for this situation.

    But I see what Kirk means. It would be great if Apple created a simple home server software system that ‘just works’ with iTunes, once you’ve got the devices networked. It’s just a networked database shared among all devices. Macs and iOS devices already can do this, just not in the simplified interface of iTunes.

  9. Hi Kirk & Everyone,

    Well, this seems to be a nice thought Kirk and to an extent we can already do this with a few software in the market currently.

    I was searching for an iTunes library manager the other day and ended up with SuperSync. Its a library manager which allows you to sync between pcs & macs & iOS devices, merge, delete duplicates and lots of stuff that a good ilibrary manager would do but one thing they didnt highlight and I would be asking them to do so soon is the capability to use it as an iTunes server!

    I am a networking expert myself and I created an iTunes server on my desktop, with the master library residing on it, and successfully using it! So I have all these SuperSync clients running on all my systems in the house, a couple of macs and three laptops with windows 7

    So now, I can connect to the main server from any of my pcs & macs and listen/download/upload ! To top it up, I have forwarded the ports on my router and am currently accessing it from my work through a browser session and streaming music 🙂 … without any subscription charges …

    I would suggest you give it a shot and you wont be disappointed, especially if you are as obsessed as me to setup iTunes server at home 🙂 🙂 …creating your own cloud :)…


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