Feb 22

It was all very easy when you had one iPod and one computer. But what do you do when you have an iPhone, 4 iPods, and three computers in the same household? Can you sync multiple computers to one iPod or vice versa?

There are various third-party applications to allow an iPod to sync with two different computers or to sink the library of two different computers together, but I’m going to talk about how to do it the Apple way…

If you have one computer, you can synchronise any number of iPhone’s or iPods to that computer. Just plug them in and when prompted say yes, I’d like to sync this ipod to this computer. If you select your iPod in iTunes, and select the Music tab, and then under settings select the “Entire music library” option, all the songs on your computer will be available on all your iPod or iPhones. Also, any songs that you purchase from iTunes on your iPhone will be synced back to your computer, and then passed on to the other iPod or iPhones. If for some reason this does not work, if you control click (left button click) on your iPhone in iTunes and then you will find a special menu item to manually transfer the purchased items across.

In other words syncing between multiple iPods and iPhones to a single computer works really well.

Going from one iPod/iPhone to multiple computers is more of a problem. If you have the “Entire music library” sync option checked, you can only sync your iPod or iPhone to one computer. This seems to be Apple’s way of stopping you pirating songs from one computer to another one.

So the Apple way of doing things is to choose which computer each iPhone or iPod will be synced with and just sync it to that one computer.

If you have two computers in your house, and you want to share your music between them, you simply have to go to your iTunes preferences and turn on library sharing as follows (this is with Snow Leopard) :

This will share all the music from one computer to any other computers on the same network – but both computers need to be turned on WITH ITUNES OPEN! This can be a bit of a downer if one computer is happens to be out in your study and it is your main one, so Apple have an option for you to transfer purchases from one computer to the other.

On your second computer, go into iTunes, turn on sharing, and your iTunes library should appear on your second computer like this:

There will be now two new buttons on the bottom right hand side of your iTunes library that control the copying of songs from your first computer to your second computer. The buttons look like this:

You can manually import songs by selecting the song and clicking on import, or you can automatically import purchased songs by clicking the settings button and selecting them:

Once you have this syncing working, you don’t need to have your first computer on to access the songs that were purchased on it. Of course you will have to make a decision as to whether you want all the songs from your first computer transferred across to your second one and taking up valuable hard drive space, or whether you want to manually transfer just some of the songs across.

SUMMARY: You can sync multiple iPods and iPhones to one computer and all the purchased songs will transfer across automatically. You can share libraries between different Macintosh computers. What you can’t do is synchronise one iPod or iPhone to different computers. If you don’t have snow leopard, you can do everything mentioned above except for the sinking of iTunes purchases between computers. The import and settings button were only added to iTunes in snow leopard.

38 Responses to “How to sync iTunes across multiple iPhones and computers”

  1. Seth says:

    UPDATE: the best way to share an iTunes library with multiple computers is to turn “Home Sharing” on . . . read this carefully:

  2. Earlene says:

    I have an iPod touch 4 and an iPhone 4 each with separate libraries but under same apple id. I want to merge the libraries creating one to use with both devices as they contain different music and audiobooks. Can I do this?

  3. Matt says:

    You told how to do this with 2 computers. How do you do this between 2 different accounts on the same computer?

  4. Anton says:

    Will this maintain all the metadata of all tracks and synchronized in real-time if I changed the genre, lets say, in one computer with another?

  5. brucethat says:

    Nice post! But I can use the FonePaw iOS Transfer which can transfer data from iPhone to computer with only few steps.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2013 Wayne Connor. All rights reserved. | Hosted on bluehost.com Click here to find out why.