There are many times when you might be around your house and want to watch a movie that’s on your computer, or a song that’s just not on your iPad or iPhone, but sitting not 20 feet away in another room on your computer. Yes you could load all that onto your devices, but movies take up a lot of space and it’s sometimes just not reasonable to have your entire 20GB music library. Yes there are some options out there, like iTunes Match to get instant access to your music, but movies still are not available.
So what to do? Home Sharing.
So first off what is Home Sharing? Home Sharing is a neat little feature of iTunes that was introduced in 2010 to share between iTunes libraries. Sometime back in the beginning of 2011, this also expanded to iOS devices. This allows devices other than computers, such as AppleTVs, and as is about to be shown even iPhones and iPads, to access shared content, without having to locally store it. In the past this has come in handy to watch movies, photos, and listening to music from a computer over the TV via AppleTV, but being mobile around the house takes it a step further.
Walking around your house, you can access any media file you’ve put into iTunes (movies, music videos, home movies, music, etc). This means not only do you have access to watch your favorite files while in bed late at night, but your little ones with that old small hard drive iPad or iPhone that you gave away when you upgraded can too without having to constantly load things onto it.
All fair and nice, but what do you need to accomplish this? First you’ll need iTunes open and running on a computer. If iTunes is closed it stops the whole process. Something to remember if a computer gets turned off or goes to sleep. It doesn’t have to be the foremost app, but it does need to be running. Also don’t worry if you don’t have a mac. If you have iTunes running you can use Home Sharing, regardless if its a mac, or pc.
Second you need a wifi network that both your computer has access to (either directly over wifi, or on the same network connected with ethernet), as well as your iOS devices are on. You also need a Apple ID. However, if you are using iTunes, and already have an iOS devices, chances are pretty good that you already have that. An Apple ID is required if you are going to buy any movies, music, apps, etc). And of course you need media to share.
There are 3 steps that you need to do to get this working properly:
- Turn on Home Sharing in iTunes (preferably a current version, but anything after 10.2 or later will work). To do this (in iTunes 11) go to the File Menu, and choose the Home Sharing options. Sign in with your account. (In previous version Home Sharing was located under the “advanced” menu bar item.) You can repeat this process on multiple computers if you have multiple iTunes libraries that you want to share on multiple computers.
- Turn on Home Sharing on your iOS device under Music. This is done by going into the Settings app, then Music, then at the bottom Home Sharing. Enter in the same account info you entered in iTunes.
- Turn on Home Sharing on your iOS device under Movies. Follow the same steps as above but in the Movies folder.
And that’s it! So long as you remember to have iTunes open and on the same wi-fi network, your iOS device can now access you music and movies. Most home networks shouldn’t have any trouble streaming either of these to your device (although if someone is doing something particularly network heavy like NetFlix or online gaming, it might get a bit rough). The method is a little different depending on either listening to music or watching a movie, but the idea is basically the same on an iPhone or iPad:
- Music – Click on the more tab on the right of the Music App. One of the new items listed should be “Shared”. Clicking it will show all available iTunes libraries that you enabled in step 1. Click on the library you want, and after loading the information, you can play any of your files like normal.
- Movies – On top of your movie/tv list should be a “shared” option. On an iPhone it will be another line above everything else. On the iPad it will be up top along with music videos, movies, tv shows, etc. Clicking that will bring you to the same menu as with music showing all available Home Sharing libraries that use that ID. Clicking any of them will load the information from those libraries and give you access to stream any of the items.
- It’s also pretty simple to get back to your local items. On the iPhone just reverse the process (clicking on shared, and then choosing your iPhone). For the iPad it’s a little more complex, in that you just clicked shared and it goes back to the list and then you have to choose your other categories (music, movies, etc).
You’ll still need to load anything if you are going out and about. So on the long train or car trips you’ll need to copy over your files, or figure out a way to create a mobile hotspot wifi network to use your laptop and iOS devices with. But for around the house this is a great option to extend the amount of media you can listen to and watch on all your devices.
Also if you want more information, Apple has a support article to help with this as well.