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Configuring A (Mac) Computer For Use As A Media/iTunes Server

Article ID = 50
Article Title = Configuring A (Mac) Computer For Use As A Media/iTunes Server
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 19th October 2011
Article Last Updated = 1st July 2015
Article URL = http://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?50

Article Brief Description:
How to configure a basic Mac server for use as a media / iTunes server

Configuring A (Mac) Computer For Use As A Media/iTunes Server

Make sure you have already setup your Mac as a Basic Mac Storage/Backup/Media Server. Or if you are on Windows you can use the basic instructions contained in this article to setup your PC as an iTunes media server.
NOTE: iTunes Home Sharing requires an Apple ID account. Make sure you have an account and that it is okay to be used for Home Sharing.
  1. Download a version of iTunes suitable for your server:
  2. NOTE: If you have a PowerPC/slower server you may want to use an older, less processor intensive version of iTunes from the list below:
  3. Install iTunes but do not add any content to iTunes just yet.
  4. On your data storage volume create a new folder called "Media Server Data"
  5. Open iTunes and set the recommended configuration:
  6. Which version of iTunes are you using?
    Configuring iTunes 12
    • Go to iTunes menu > Preferences > General tab
      • Set 'Library Name' as required e.g. "Media Server"
      • Set 'When a CD is inserted' as required e.g. "Show CD" (that allows you to choose what to do when you put in a CD rather than it immediately trying to import it)
      • Click "Import Settings…" and set your required 'Import Using' and 'Settings' e.g.:
        • For best compatibility "MP3 Encoder" with "High Quality (160Kbps)"
          = Approx. 10xCDs/600 minutes per GB
        • For good quality "AAC Encoder" with "iTunes Plus"
          = Approx. 8xCDs/480 minutes per GB
        • For best quality "Apple Lossless Encoder" with "Automatic"
          = Approx. 2.5xCDs/150 minutes per GB
      • Tick 'Automatically retrieve CD track names from Internet'
    • Sharing tab
      • Tick 'Share my library on my local network' with "Share entire library" on
      • If required, tick 'Require password' and set one
      • If the option is there tick 'Home Sharing computers and devices update play counts' (unless you don't want them to)
    • Store tab
      • untick 'Automatically download missing album artwork' (because it's not very good/accurate - do this instead)
    • Apple TV tab (Apple TV version 1 models only)
      • As this will be a master library for your media it could be very large so you may want to tick 'Prevent Apple TVs from syncing automatically'
    • Devices tab
      • As this will be a master library for your media it could be very large so you may want to tick 'Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically'
      • Tick 'Look for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad Remotes'
    • Advanced tab
      • Click the "Change…" button and select the "Media Server Data" folder on your data storage volume
      • Tick 'Keep iTunes Media folder organised'
      • Tick 'Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library'
      • Untick 'Check for new software updates automatically' (it's either best to stick with a particular version or install updates manually rather than it keep nagging you that there is an update available)
    • Go to File menu > Home Sharing > Turn On Home Sharing
      • Enter the Apple ID that you are going to use for Home Sharing and then click "Create Home Share"
    • Click here to continue with the configuration
    Configuring iTunes 11
    • Go to View menu > Show Sidebar to see the normal sidebar list on the left of the main iTunes window.
    • Go to iTunes menu > Preferences > General tab
      • Set 'Library Name' as required e.g. "Media Server"
      • Tick 'Show' items as required
      • Set 'When a CD is inserted' as required e.g. "Show CD" (that allows you to choose what to do when you put in a CD rather than it immediately trying to import it)
      • Click "Import Settings…" and set your required 'Import Using' and 'Settings' e.g.:
        • For best compatibility "MP3 Encoder" with "High Quality (160Kbps)"
          = Approx. 10xCDs/600 minutes per GB
        • For good quality "AAC Encoder" with "iTunes Plus"
          = Approx. 8xCDs/480 minutes per GB
        • For best quality "Apple Lossless Encoder" with "Automatic"
          = Approx. 2.5xCDs/150 minutes per GB
      • Tick 'Automatically retrieve CD track names from Internet'
    • Sharing tab
      • Tick 'Share my library on my local network' with "Share entire library" on
      • If required, tick 'Require password' and set one
      • If the option is there tick 'Home Sharing computers and devices update play counts' (unless you don't want them to)
    • Store tab
      • untick 'Automatically download missing album artwork' (because it's not very good/accurate - do this instead)
    • Apple TV tab (Apple TV version 1 models only)
      • As this will be a master library for your media it could be very large so you may want to tick 'Prevent Apple TVs from syncing automatically'
    • Devices tab
      • As this will be a master library for your media it could be very large so you may want to tick 'Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically'
      • Tick 'Look for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad Remotes'
    • Advanced tab
      • Click the "Change…" button and select the "Media Server Data" folder on your data storage volume
      • Tick 'Keep iTunes Media folder organised'
      • Tick 'Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library'
      • Untick 'Check for new software updates automatically' (it's either best to stick with a particular version or install updates manually rather than it keep nagging you that there is an update available)
    • Click on "Home Sharing" in the list on the left of the main iTunes windows
      • Enter the Apple ID that you are going to use for Home Sharing and then click "Create Home Share"
    • Click here to continue with the configuration
    Configuring iTunes 10 or earlier
    • Go to iTunes menu > Preferences > General tab
      • Set 'Library Name' as required e.g. "Media Server"
      • Tick 'Show' items as required
      • Set 'When you insert a CD' as required e.g. "Show CD" (that allows you to choose what to do when you put in a CD rather than it immediately trying to import it)
      • Click "Import Settings…" and set your required 'Import Using' and 'Settings' e.g.:
        • For best compatibility "MP3 Encoder" with "High Quality (160Kbps)"
          = Approx. 10xCDs/600 minutes per GB
        • For good quality "AAC Encoder" with "iTunes Plus"
          = Approx. 8xCDs/480 minutes per GB
        • For best quality "Apple Lossless Encoder" with "Automatic"
          = Approx. 2.5xCDs/150 minutes per GB
      • Tick 'Automatically retrieve CD track names from Internet'
      • If the option is there untick 'Automatically download missing album artwork' (because it's not very good/accurate - do this instead)
      • Untick 'Check for new software updates automatically' (it's either best to stick with a particular version or install updates manually rather than it keep nagging you that there is an update available)
    • Sharing tab
      • Untick 'Look for shared libraries'
      • Tick 'Share my library on my local network' with "Share entire library" on
      • If required, tick 'Require password' and set one
      • If the option is there tick 'Home Sharing computers and devices update play counts' (unless you don't want them to)
    • Store tab
      • If the option is there untick 'Automatically download missing album artwork' (because it's not very good/accurate - do this instead)
    • Apple TV tab (Apple TV version 1 models only)
      • If you have an Apple TV tick 'Look for Apple TVs'
      • As this will be a master library for your media it could be very large so you may want to tick 'Prevent Apple TVs from syncing automatically'
    • Devices tab
      • As this will be a master library for your media it could be very large so you may want to tick 'Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically'
      • If you have AirTunes compatible devices and wish to use them tick 'Look for remote speakers connected with AirTunes'
      • Tick 'Look for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad Remotes'
    • Advanced tab
      • Click the "Change…" button and select the "Media Server Data" folder on your data storage volume
      • Tick 'Keep iTunes Media folder organised'
      • Tick 'Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library'
    • Click on "Home Sharing" in the list on the left of the main iTunes windows
      • Enter the Apple ID that you are going to use for Home Sharing and then click "Create Home Share"
  7. Quit iTunes and restart your computer
  8. Locate your media (music, videos, etc)
  9. Open iTunes
  10. Drag your media to the iTunes window/library as required (iTunes will automatically copy the content to the "Media Server Data" folder on your data storage volume)
  11. Check the Media/iTunes Server Options and/or Additional Storage/Backup/Media Server Configurations below for other things that you could do

Media/iTunes Server Options

  • Use DVD/Blu-Ray Digital Copies
  • Correctly tag your popular / classical music
  • Add artwork to your music
  • Setup an Apple TV 1st Generation (white)
  • NOTE: As this is a server probably with a large amount of media you will want to set up an Apple TV 1st Generation to "stream" not to "sync".
  • Setup an Apple TV 2nd Generation or later (small/black)
  • 2nd generation (September 2010) Buy one now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
    3rd generation (March 2012) Buy one now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • If you don't want to or can't use iTunes Home Sharing (so that family members can copy files to the server easily) then why not setup an incoming file sharing folder/dropbox so that on the server you can drag incoming files from the dropbox to the iTunes library (and then delete them from the dropbox). Or better still why not simply share the "Automatically Add to iTunes" folder or your own shared folder with a folder action that adds tracks automatically to iTunes.
  • Rip DVDs (you can do this for films and music videos)
  • NOTE: Please respect the laws of your country and only rip DVDs that you legally own where it is legally possible.
    NOTE: Usually when you add ripped music videos to the iTunes library they will come in as content type "Film" so in the iTunes library window select the video(s) and go to the File menu > Get Info > Options tab and set the 'Media Kind' to "Music Video".
    NOTE: If you add music videos to the iTunes library why not create a Music Videos Smart Playlist? Go to the File menu > New Smart Playlist… and set the first rule to 'Media Kind' | 'is' | 'Music Video'. That's it… but you could even add an additional rule ('+' button) like 'Year' | 'is in the range' | '1980' to '1989' and voilà you have an instant 80's music video playlist (you can even rename it that in the playlist list on the left - in iTunes 11 or later go to View menu > Show Sidebar to see the Playlist list or select Music from the pop-up menu in the top left of the iTunes window and then click Playlists along the top) :-)
  • iTunes plug-ins
  • iTunes Scripts (Mac only)
  • Useful utilities (Mac OS X)
  • Useful utilities (Windows)

Media Compatibility References

  • iTunes compatible media formats
    • Audio Formats: MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG-4, AAC (.m4a) and Apple Lossless
    • Recommended Video Formats (but check sync/streaming device's specifications)
      • H.264
      • File formats: .m4v, .mp4, and .mov
      • Video: Up to 768 kbits/sec, 320 x 240, 30 frames per second (fps), Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3.
      • Audio: AAC-LC up to 160 kbits/sec, 48 Khz, and stereo audio.
        MPEG-4
      • File formats: .m4v, .mp4, and .mov
      • Video: Up to 2.5 Mbits/sec, 480 x 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile.
      • Audio: AAC-LC up to 160 kbits/sec, 48 Khz, stereo audio.
  • Apple TV (1st Generation) compatible media formats
  • Apple TV (2nd Generation) compatible media formats
  • Apple TV (3rd Generation) compatible media formats

Additional Storage/Backup/Media Server Configuration


Article Keywords: OSXserver OSX server streaming media music audio MPEG 3 4 MP3 MPEG3 MP4 MPEG4 AAC lossless FLAC convert converter video DVD rip ripper ripping iTunes home sharing AppleTV Apple TV .m4v .mp4 .mov .mp3 .aac .m4a

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