iTunes and iPhoto on a network

Seems like it’s “Ask a question” time over here on the blog, which is fine with me as your questions always get me thinking, and your responses always teach me something!

This time Wayne has a question about iTunes and iPhoto on a network, which is something that I seem to always be ‘struggling’ to work out in my own set up.

Wayne’s Story

With all this talk about hard drives, getting bigger ones and having them be external. I’ve read several posts on how to get all your iTunes stuff onto your external drive and point the library there. Not a problem. But what if I wanted to have, say, all my music, all TV Shows, all Movies, from all computers, (and thus 5 separate iTunes accounts,) to go into one external hard drive? Or is the only way to have 5 separate iTunes libraries on one drive. I’d hate to do it that away because then I wouldn’t know who’s got what song or what movie without having to go into all the shared accounts. On the same line, what about pictures?

I hate having to go into iTunes, go to someone’s shared account, and find everything all grouped together when I’m looking just for one movie.

My Views

I am sort of in the same predicament myself! Currently I have our main iTunes library on Sands iMac (60GB), backed up to her external drive. She has her iPod Nano (which she uses with Nike + so uploads data to their web site). 2 x iPod Shuffles and iPod Mini hooked up to the iMac and spreads various music, audiobooks and Spanish lessons across the various ‘pods.

I then have some music on my Mac mini (which syncs with my iPod and my iPod Shuffle) and some music on the Mac Book (which syncs with 2 old iPod’s and an old iPod Shuffle). There is also a full back up of the iTunes on the Sony PC which is more for added security as the PC is hardly ever switched on.

We only have the one iTunes Account, so I don’t have that issue, but with 9 iPods between us I do have the issue of matching Mac to iPod to user. At the moment I am happy enough using iTunes inbuilt sharing (especially with Front Row) for picking up music off the iMac which isn’t on the Mac mini or Mac Book.

We actually do the same thing with iPhoto. ALL the pictures are on the iMac in iPhoto and we share those around with the standard Mac sharing option. I use iPhoto on the Mac mini and Mac Book for specific project pictures that I am involved in – our family stuff is all on the iMac.

I actually have no issues with this set up except that with all the pictures on the iMac I can’t get them onto my iPod, which is connected to the Mac mini. UNLESS I am missing something very basic here and it is possible to transfer music and photos onto the iPod connected to the Mac mini off the iMac?

BUT as I head towards Mac Pro land, I am starting to reconsider setting up my iTunes on a network server, which is sort of where I think this discussion is heading – what are the benefits of a network server for iTunes and iPhoto and what are the limitations – especially in my case with respect to the use of iPod’s.

As I write this I am actually thinking that the answer for me may be to have the main iTunes library on the iMac but back it up to the Mac Pro so that we still have two digital copies (any more would really be an excessive use of disc space). This would mean that the library would have to sit on a separate partition as it wouldn’t want to be backed up with the System each time (especially Time machine in Leopard). Ditto the iPhoto library!

I will always want some pictures and music on the Mac Book for those times that I travel.

Unlike Wayne I have no movies or TV shows in iTunes, nor do I anticipate having any in the future. I do have a lot of videos, but that is a subject for another post re yFlicks.

So – apologies to Wayne for hijacking your question, but I am interested to see what suggestions ‘we’ get!

4 thoughts on “iTunes and iPhoto on a network

  1. dunks

    I seem to remember a solution to Waynes issue on The Mac Geek Gab podcast. I’ll see if I can hunt it down.

  2. Wayne LeFevre

    Thanks. I used to listen to the Geek Gab all the time, but haven’t had the time, lately. In fact, I have 92 through 112 just sitting in my iTunes right now, waiting… 🙁

  3. Chris Marshall Post author

    I have been thinking about the concept of a Network Server post Mac Pro and I can’t see the point to be honest. The MacPro will be running pretty much all the time that we are in the apartment (as the Mac mini is now) and so I think it makes far more sense to use that as the ‘server’ rather than add another machine to the mix which needs to be on all the time – my small contribution to saving the climate!

    I am going to have all the Music and Photo’s on the Mac Pro and back them up to a separate drive in the Mac Pro. I am then going to ‘point’ the iMac and remaining Mac mini (my father is going to buy the smaller one off me – his second Mac purchase in 2 months!!!) to the library on the Mac Pro and connect my iPod’s to the Mac Pro and Sands to the iMac. We will share the one library, and I will spend more time with the ratings and playlists to differentiate what music gets copied onto which iPod.

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