iTunes 9 Home Sharing is a killer missing feature

The new Home Sharing feature in iTunes 9 finally bridges the gap for homes, like mine, with multiple instance of iTunes, multiple iPods/iPhones and those of us who like to keep our libraries in sync as we purchase more and more content through iTunes.  So, what is the feature and how does it work?

Home Sharing works very similiar to the sharing features of earlier versions of iTunes, actually showing up in the same area of the iTunes interface.  Home Sharing, however, goes a step further.  By registering your iTunes with a specific iTunes Store account, other computers on your same network with the same account get access to pull music from each other – actually copying and keeping your libraries in sync.

Home Sharing also allows you to quickly and easily see what content in a shared library is missing from your library.  Once the home share is established and the list of content is populated, a drop down menu in the bottom of the app allows you to change the view to see only content missing from your library.  What’s futher, you can actually navigate the home share like your local library and limit the view to just music, movies, TV shows, etc. and then apply the ‘what’s missing’ view.

Taking it a step forward, you are also able to automatically sync music from other home shares to your library.  Some might ask why you’d want to do that…  Take this example.  At home, we have an iMac that serves as our master library.  We try to keep everything we buy there.  The iMac syncs to our Apple TV – so we want all our content there to be able to play it for parties or while we’re around the house.  We’ve enabled the automatic sync for music to pull all content from other home shares into this library.

I have privately hoped that Apple might enable this sort of functionality to turn the Apple TV into a digital hub and add the ability to make it a “master” library for iTunes, so the home sharing technology certainly gives me hope that this may come to pass.  I like the idea of having a smaller, headless device serve as my primary library.  But, until that time, we keep the iMac running 24×7 and so that works too.  Now, what about adding Back to My Mac functionality to iTunes so that we can get our home shares from anywhere on the Internet?  I like where this could go…

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Philip is a IT solutions engineer working for AmWINS Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in Charlotte, NC. With a focus on data center technologies, he has built a career helping his customers and his employers deploy better IT solutions to solve their problems. Philip holds certifications in VMware and Microsoft technologies and he is a technical jack of all trades that is passionate about IT infrastructure and all things Apple. He's a part-time blogger and author here at

3 Responses to “iTunes 9 Home Sharing is a killer missing feature”

  1. I like the idea of having a smaller, headless device serve as my primary library.

    I’ve got a headless last-generation mini with my primary library, and it’s great. It’s hooked up to my TV as well, and I’ve got Hulu Desktop and Boxee installed as Front Row menu items so it’s entirely controllable by IR remote (though I use Screen Sharing from another computer to manage the iTunes library and iPhone syncing).

    I tried the AppleTV, but it didn’t run Hulu well (I hacked it with the Boxee installer), so it really didn’t do what I wanted and I returned it to the Apple store the next day.

    September 15, 2009 at 3:41 pm Reply
  2. Rick #

    Looks like the Back to my Mac feature was originally slated to be in there; check out Apple Hong Kong’s iTunes page:

    October 7, 2009 at 12:38 am Reply
    • Philip #

      Thanks Rick! That’s pretty interesting. I hope it makes its way to the US soon.

      October 7, 2009 at 7:08 am Reply

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