Use iTunes Home Sharing to get your music everywhere

Home Sharing is a super-handy feature of iTunes, Apple TV, and iOS thatlets you access items that exist in other iTunes libraries. Those other
iTunes libraries can be in another account on the same Mac, or on a
different Mac.

Home Sharing lets you do a bunch of different things with the music, movies, TV shows, and apps in your iTunes libraries:

* Copy items from other iTunes libraries to
your own iTunes. This is a great way to avoid paying more than once for
the same thing.
* Play content from one machine on another machine. Stream from iTunes to Apple TV, or pull from iTunes to Apple TV or your iPhone.
* Remote control your iTunes or Apple TV.

To use Home Sharing, both iTunes must be on the
same network, that is, connected to the same router over wi-fi or Ethernet cable.

To play an item that was bought at the iTunes
Store, that iTunes must be *authorized* with the same Apple ID that was
used to buy the item.

#### Enable Home Sharing

This is the most crucial bit to know: *Enter the **same Apple ID and password** in every
iTunes that will use Home Sharing.* Any Apple ID will work, but be

![Turn On Home Sharing][1]

#### Using Home Sharing

To access other iTunes libraries, those iTunes must
be open. If it’s iTunes on another computer, that computer *must be awake*
with *iTunes open*.

On your iTunes you see a **Sharing** section in the
sidebar. Select the library you want to get items from, and wait till
the main window displays items in that library:

![Shared Library in iTunes Sidebar][2]

Now click the triangle to the left of the shared
library name. You see categories of items, as well as other
sub-categories with their own clickable triangles:

![Subsections of Shared Library][3]

Items in the category you select are display in the main window. You can
play music and video tracks, but the great thing is you can drag items
to your own library to copy them into your iTunes. Your library is the
first section in the sidebar:

![iTunes Library][4]

#### Authorizing

If you want to play an item bought under a particular Apple ID, you must
authorize your computer with that ID. A maximum of 5 computers can be
authorized for a single Apple ID. (Always *deauthorize* computers before
you get rid of them!) You need the Apple ID and the password to do this:

![Authorize This Computer][4]

**Bonus tip:** If you forget to deauthorize a computer before you sell it, and then find yourself running up against the message “You Have Already Authorized Five Computers,” you can Deauthorize All Computers in your iTunes Store > Account. Then all you have to do is reauthorize each device you still own. (This is all way less dramatic than it sounds, but you should know that it works only once a year.)

#### But Wait, There’s More

If you have an Apple TV, turn on its Home Sharing: Go to **Settings >
Computers**. Now you can play items on your computers while sitting on
the sofa looking at the Apple TV. (This doesn’t work for the original
silver Apple TV, but there are other ways to accomplish the same thing on
that model.)

Home Sharing on your iPhone and iPad is in **Settings > Music**. With
Home Sharing on, you can play items in other iTunes libraries with the
sound coming out of the phone.

Finally, the neatest trick: Download the free *[Remote](* app from the iTunes Store to your
iPhone or iPad. When you authorize the Remote app with the same Home Sharing ID you’ve used elsewhere, you can control your Apple TV or iTunes on your computers. That’s entertainment!


How Can I Access My Files on a Different Computer?

I’m out if town, and need to access my documents on my home iMac from the laptop I have with me. How can I do that?

Mac on Mac action

1) File Sharing: You can easily get to files on the iMac when you are at home with your laptop. All you do is, on the iMac, make sure File Sharing is on: Apple menu > System Preferences > Sharing. Then, on the MacBook Pro, go to Finder > File menu > New Finder Window > left sidebar > Shared section. Click on the iMac, and to the right, click Connect As… Enter the user name and password you use on the iMac (it’s nice to standardize these on all computers). Here’s Apple’s more complete tutorial on File Sharing.

Mac File Sharing

Also, you can turn on Screen Sharing in that same System Preferences pane, and then the button Share Screen… will appear next to Connect As…

2) Back to My Mac: You may have the Back to My Mac part of the MobileMe service set up in System Preferences > MobileMe > Back to My Mac. If that’s working, your iMac will appear on your laptop, in that same Shared section of the left sidebar of your Finder windows, even when you’re not in the house. Note: Back to My Mac is notoriously finicky about routers; unsurprisingly, it plays very smoothly with Apple Airport devices. See item (1) for getting to your stuff once you’ve found your Back-to-My-Mac-enabled Mac.

3) iCloud: This fall, Apple will evolve the MobileMe service into iCloud The cost will change to free, and syncing files and photos between your computers will be one of the flagship features. One can look online for some previews of how iCloud will work.

4) Dropbox: This to me is the winner. Until iCloud appears, and perhaps even after, my favorite way to see my files everywhere is called Dropbox. There are other services almost exactly like Dropbox, but they don’t have its simplicity, accessibility, and widespread adoption. I use Dropbox to synchronize not just my documents, but also my secure databases, shopping and task lists, and frequently used text snippets. Some of our clients share and sync their QuickBooks company files with their bookkeepers.

Dropbox illustration

Dropbox’s pricing is either free for 2GB storage, $10/month for 50GB, or $20/month for 100GB. (That’s a referral link: you and I each get an extra 250MB of storage, up to a 10GB limit!) The iPhone/iPad app is free, and the iPhone word processor I’m typing this on now is $5, and syncs with Dropbox.

5) LogMeIn: Finally, the best free service for remote screen-sharing is LogMeIn. It has a good, albeit $30-pricey, iOS app, and I use it and the web app all the time to help clients. Until this year, LogMeIn Free only offered screen control of your remote computers, but recently they added the awesome feature of being able to access and download files from a remote machine, even to your iPad. This is not sync à la Dropbox, but very useful nonetheless.

Any of these solutions is easy and cheap to implement. I keep Dropbox and LogMeIn going all the time. Call me if you would like further guidance.

LogMeIn available for Mac… um… last year

Oh, man, this is top notch: LogMeIn, probably the leading package that let’s you control your computers from afar, finally came out with a Mac controller for their Free package, and … I guess I’m the last to know about it.

Previously we have been able to control PCs with LogMeIn, because it has been browser-based, and the same company has had Hamachi, a free VPN thing that I always meant to play with, but didn’t like that I had to use a 3rd-party app to do it. But now LMI has a plug-in to install on the Mac. Very very sweet.

So, I was talking with a new client who lives a little ways out of San Antonio, and we were discussing the methods I use to provide support, and he said, “Well, you could always connect to me with LogMeIn.” 
Sho’ ’nuff: About 20 minutes later, I had an account at LogMeIn and was able to access my own computer from afar. I had set up a VPN for this already, but LogMeIn is way easier. I can’t believe they released it to beta a year ago, and went 1.0 in December, but anyway I’m glad to have it now!
Now, they don’t have their Pro version available for Mac, so you can’t grab files or print remotely like you can with a VPN, so that latter option might still be preferable for many folks, perhaps with Hamachi and perhaps with the iVPN solution I mentioned previously. But just being able to get to your screen is huge.
Incidentally, security goes like this: You have a password to log in to your LogMeIn account, and then to control your computer you need to enter the name and password for your user account. 
And what do we learn from this? Pleeeeeeease make sure you have good, strong passwords on all of your accounts, both online and on your computer, and please don’t use the same password for every frackin’ thing you do!
Log me up, Scotty.

Free VPN!

Finally I had the opportunity/need/inspiration/circumstances to look for a free VPN server that would run on a server with a static IP on a LAN. 

Turns out Mac OS X has one built in! It’s an open-source UNIX deal called vpnd, and it’s the same one on OS X Server and configured through the GUI. It’s no surprise that Apple left a VPN GUI out of OS X client — Server costs either $499 or $999 — but a very nice developer named Alex Jones came up with the free iVPN, and after a little port forwarding on the router, and 30 seconds of config of iVPN, we had ourselves a legit L2TP VPN tunnel.

It was important to me that the VPN be accessible by the client built-in to OS X — found in Internet Connect in Tiger or earlier, and in Network System Preferences in Leopard. I have become bored with downloading and config’ing standalone software: too many checkboxes, not enough stability.

So…. whoop! Very easy, very free. 

Now, one thing about most VPN connections that has always bugged me is that, even if the client connects to a network resource, say a server, via its local Bonjour hostname, e.g. server.local, when a connection is attempted over the VPN it fails, and the user has to revert to using the IP address. Which is sort of fine, but a turn off to the less technically minded. So I just found this article on about editing the /etc/hosts file:

Create the illusion that Bonjour works over a VPN

I haven’t tried it yet, but it makes sense to me.