Reader Question: How to Share a Single iTunes Library Between Multiple User Accounts

Today's post is in response to a reader's question: "We just purchased a new family MacBook and we have 6 family members. How can we share a single iTunes library between all 6 accounts?"

This is a great question. Not only would sharing a single iTunes library be more convenient (you only have to manage one library), but it would save a tremendous amount of precious hard drive space. Instead of 6 copies of an album or movie (one for each account), you would have one copy... with all 6 accounts accessing it from the same place. Sharing an iTunes library in this way is actually much easier than you might think. Here we go.

The first thing you need to do is create a new folder called "iTunes" on the root of the internal hard drive. In most cases, the internal hard drive is called "Macintosh HD". To do this, open Finder, then click on "Macintosh HD" on the left side. Next, click on the action button (the "gear" button) to create a new folder and name it "iTunes".

Next, we need to log into each account, launch iTunes and redirect the active iTunes media folder to the new "iTunes" folder on the root of Macintosh HD. To do this, go to iTunes > Preferences... On the "Advanced" tab, click the "Change..." button and browse to the new "iTunes" folder.


Repeat this process for each user's account until they are all directed to the new folder. Once you have your new library, you can start adding media to it. As you add media via one user's iTunes, it will place it in the new folder. As you log in to another account and open iTunes, you will see the same media there because it's reading from the same location.

This method assumes that you are building your library from scratch. If you already have an existing library in tact that you want to share and continue building, you would add one addition step. Once you have created the new "iTunes" folder on the root of "Macintosh HD", you will then copy the contents of the existing library folder from its current location (Users/username/Music/iTunes) into the new location.

Once the file copy has completed, you would then launch iTunes and redirect the active iTunes media library to the new location. This would be done for each account (as described above).

With the default iTunes library contained within each user's home directory, it would be protected and not accessible to other users on the computer. By moving the library outside of any one individual's account, it's not made available to all users equally.

Posted on September 15, 2014 and filed under How To, Mac.