How Do I Share iPhoto and iTunes Libraries Between Two Users? [Ask MacRx]



Sharing an iPhoto or iTunes library between two users is a common request, but Apple doesn’t make this easy. Home Sharing will distribute purchased media but does not allow you to manage a single shared library. Here are some Apple recommended options:

I have my iPhoto library located in my /Users/Shared folder. My wife is an Admin and I am an Admin and both login apps are linked to it. I have gone as far as selecting the permissions to read and write for everyone, but there are still videos she can’t watch and when she imports items they don’t save to the library. Importing can only be done from my login.

Can you detail the exact method for sharing?

I have a similar setup for iTunes with a slightly different problem. If I add media in my login I have to add the media to her login. If she adds media. I have to add it to mine. I do this by just importing the whole iTunes folder that is on my external hard drive. Is there a better solution for this? We currently do not share an iTunes account.

Thanks! Christopher

Hi Christopher,

Apple does have recommended methods for doing what you wish with both apps, but realize these are workarounds with limitations. Both iPhoto and iTunes are designed with a single user, single account in mind. People have asked for years for more ways to share between family members, hopefully iCloud will help with some of this.

According to Apple, ignoring permissions for the iPhoto library is the key to sharing between two accounts. Rather than trying to set the correct permissions on the boot drive, as you’re trying to do inside /Users/Shared, they recommend putting the iPhoto library on an external USB or FireWire drive, and selecting the option to Ignore Ownership on This Volume in the Get Info window. Full details in this Apple Tech Note.

For iTunes you don’t need to use an external drive (though you can if desired), just set the iTunes preferences for both users to use the same mutually accessible library. This prevents duplication of media. However the library database file itself – iTunes Music Library.xml – is separate for each user, it doesn’t track media added to the other account. You need to add new media to the library separately for both users by manually importing files, as you’re now doing. Details in this Apple Tech Note.

I am one of those novice hackers that pokes around everywhere and eventually gets it set up right. I am just getting tired of doing it myself. So, again, thank you so much for your response!