Since I got the iMac for Christmas, I only use my 3 year old MacBook when traveling. My Music and Movies collections are on the iMac and so are my apps. The problem is, when I’m traveling, I can’t sue the MacBook to synchronize my media or I loose all the existing content on my iPhone. So, this week end, I set out to find a way to do just that and I came up with the following:

#1 I can not sync all of my music to my iPhone or I can just forget about using it to record in HD, the hard drive would constantly be full. So I created a playlist for the music I wanted to send to the iPhone later.

#2 I need to keep both computer libraries in sync so that, whether I sync from the iMac or from the MacBook, I have the same content to pick from. I can add a track to the iPhone playlist and remove another and the rest will remain untouched.
The same applies to the apps, movies or books.

#3 I need to make the phone act as if iMac and MacBook were the same media libraries so that, syncing to one, wil not erased the content transferred by the other.

Here is how I proceeded to accomplish each of these steps:

#1 is straightforward enough. If you use iTunes and your iPhone at all, you know how to create a playlist and to sync it with your device. You also need to plug your iPhone, select it on the left barre in iTunes and go to the Summary tab and check (toward the bottom) “manually manage music and video”. This is an important step…

#2 is done using Home Sharing which Apple rolled out with iTunes 9. It’s very easy to use (drag & drop) and sets up in instants. Once you have Home Sharing running, simply copy over your music library so that you have the same tracks on both machines. The only trick is to transfer your iPhone playlist in order to sync it from both computers. On the first computer, click on the playlist on the left and right click in order to get the context menu. Click on export and select the xml format. Transfer the file you just saved on the second computer. On the second computer, open iTunes and import the playlist. Now, using Home Share, I simply need to remember to sync my library from iMac to MacBook before traveling and from MacBook to iMac on return. Hopefully, soon, a better solution will come along to automate that part…

#3 is the trickiest part. In order for the iPhone to sync from either computer without erasing the content that was previously transferred by the other, the device must act as if both libraries (on each computer) were the same. This is done by hacking the iTunes Music Library.xml file and the iTunes Music file. All the instruction can be found on Shiny Things. You’ll need a Hex Editor to complete the operation, I downloaded and used Hex Friend (free).

It took some figuring and a lot of attempts but it finally works!

Filed under: iPhone, Mac OS X, Me myself I

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3 Comments to "2 Macs, 2 iTune Libraries, 1 iPhone: Getting it All Together"

  1. Trackback on Samantha Halfon on August 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    New blog post: 2 Macs, 2 iTune Libraries, 1 iPhone: Getting it All Together:
    Since I got the iMac for Christmas, … http://bit.ly/9y2VXw

  2. Trackback on Frédéric de Villamil on August 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    RT @samo9789: New blog post: 2 Macs, 2 iTune Libraries, 1 iPhone: Getting it All Together:
    http://bit.ly/9y2VXw

  3. Trackback on sid 【ツ】 on August 15, 2010 at 7:49 am

    New blog post: 2 Macs, 2 iTune Libraries, 1 iPhone: Getting it All Together: http://bit.ly/9y2VXw /via @samo9789

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  • About Me


    photo of Samantha Halfon Samantha Halfon
    Software Engineer
    blueKiwi software
    Paris, France
    I enjoy playing with my computer(s), listening to Bob Dylan (and related artists) and watching movies (especially if they were directed by Martin Scorsese or John Cassavetes). Sometimes, I play a little guitar... If not doing any of the above, I am either riding a small red bike around Paris, or, making videos. About my videomaking please check out World Wide Angle and its blog.