Managing multiple iTunes libraries (Windows)

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gregger77

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Hi, new to the Forums here and hoping to find a solution to my newest item on the "Apple problem for which Apple Support site is worthless" list.

My wife and I share a Windows PC; she has iTunes 12+ on it.

I have an old Windows XP laptop (quit laughing!) with iTunes 12+ (but a slightly earlier release) on it. I wish to get rip of the laptop for a lot of good reasons, and I want to use our shared PC to manage my iTunes library.

I "moved" my iTunes library to an external drive, following the various instructions for Organizing the library in its new location etc. Then I copied it to a new folder on the PC, and opened it in iTunes there (holding down "Shift" while launching the app and selecting the library at that time).

Problem is, my library shows up, but my wife's library is mixed in! (Her library resides in a different folder, is differently named, etc.)

Should I have first "Created a Library" (during Shift+Run) and moved my library content into that...or...something else?

I'm confused. Thanks for any help!

- G.
 

cjmnews

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Doing this as the same user ID is going to be problematic. There is an iTunes Preferences file in her login that tells iTunes where the default Media Folder is located, and it has already incorporated her stuff into your library.

Getting a copy of the library file iTunes Library.itl from the XP machine and overwriting the original on the external drive will put your library back to normal.

I would use a second user ID instead of trying to use hers. In other words have to logins to Windows. This will allow you to set a default Music location that does not impact hers. You can even move the whole library to the internal drive.

Once you log in as you, then you can open iTunes like you did above, but add a step.
In iTunes, click Edit->Preferences, then to to the Advanced tab. Click on the Change button next to the Default Media Folder location box and change it to the external drive media folder location.

That setting is fixed in the C:\Users\<login>\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\Preferences\com.apple.iTunes.plist file (or another file somewhere in that folder) and it is in binary so changing it outside of iTunes is not really feasible.

If you do this you'll need to close iTunes and log out before the other user opens iTunes. iTunes will fail if you use fast user switching. And you get to make 2 backups, one for each library.

Honestly I would merge the two libraries into 1 and use playlists to separate the music. One login, one backup, if you use the same Apple ID, you can share common music.
 

gregger77

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Oh, wow...I get a headache trying to understand some of this advice,
but I'm going to use it! Thanks.

Doing this as the same user ID is going to be problematic.
So weird that Apple does not warn you about this when discussing the "Shift+Run" functionality!

Getting a copy of the library file iTunes Library.itl from the XP machine and overwriting the original on the external drive will put your library back to normal.
Okay, that's a do-over, and I will make sure I am freshly "organized/consolidated" on the old machine before copying again to the external drive.

Once you log in as you, then you can open iTunes like you did above
Meaning, Shift+Run, yes?

A dumb question: Since each Windows user, after logging in, sees "their own PC" and not another user's apps or files...why shouldn't I go ahead and install a new copy of iTunes under the new user, and access my own library exclusively...never switching users again?

...Default Media Folder...change it to the external drive media folder location.
I would prefer to put my library on the internal hard drive, as you suggested, under the files for the "new Windows user" ... does that sound okay?

iTunes will fail if you use fast user switching.
By fast-user switching, do you mean the Apple-provided user switching under the "Shift+Run" start-up? If so...why does Apple provide and promote a feature that will fail? I'm not doubting you, I'm just confounded by this inability to manage two libraries effectively.

Oh...a question from before...When I first used the library selector...Should I have first "Created a Library" ...would it have made any difference?

Thanks.
 
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cjmnews

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Meaning, Shift+Run, yes?

A dumb question: Since each Windows user, after logging in, sees "their own PC" and not another user's apps or files...why shouldn't I go ahead and install a new copy of iTunes under the new user, and access my own library exclusively...never switching users again?
Yes Shift+Run. Windows generally installs applications for all users, unless specified otherwise. No need to install iTunes again.

I would prefer to put my library on the internal hard drive, as you suggested, under the files for the "new Windows user" ... does that sound okay?
Of course. I thought that was clear. The new user could copy the iTunes folder from the external drive and paste it into their Music folder. Open iTunes and everything is there. Syncing works without erasing, and all songs and playlists as well.

By fast-user switching, do you mean the Apple-provided user switching under the "Shift+Run" start-up? If so...why does Apple provide and promote a feature that will fail? I'm not doubting you, I'm just confounded by this inability to manage two libraries effectively.
No, fast user switching is a Windows feature where you can be logged in and your wife can switch to her account without logging you out. This way you could be in the middle of a letter or an email, and she can get quick access to her Facebook account. Neither has to log out or lose their place.

iTunes assumes there is only 1 user on the system. So it starts background processes under that user. So if you have iTunes open and fast user switch, and try to open iTunes again, it will fail. Just close iTunes in one account when you are done and you won't be back here asking about weird iTunes behavior when you fast user switch.

Oh...a question from before...When I first used the library selector...Should I have first "Created a Library" ...would it have made any difference?
No, that would not have changed the location of the default media folder. So you would have had the same problem.
 

gregger77

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No, fast user switching is a Windows feature where you can be logged in and your wife can switch to her account without logging you out.
Oh, I see. Thank you for the clarification.

SO... when going back to your earlier note that "There is an iTunes Preferences file in her login that tells iTunes where the default Media Folder is located..."

My understanding now is that even though iTunes is only installed once on the PC, when each user logs into their account and opens iTunes via Shift+Run, and sets the preference for the Media Folder, iTunes will "know" the correct default location to use based on which user account is active...right?

I appreciate your help!
 
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cjmnews

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Oh, I see. Thank you for the clarification.

SO... when going back to your earlier note that "There is an iTunes Preferences file in her login that tells iTunes where the default Media Folder is located..."

My understanding now is that even though iTunes is only installed once on the PC, when each user logs into their account and opens iTunes via Shift+Run, and sets the preference for the Media Folder, iTunes will "know" the correct default location to use based on which user account is active...right?

I appreciate your help!
Not exactly. The iTunes Preferences change is needed if you use her login to manage your library. You are no longer doing that so you can ignore that portion.

If you have your own login, there is no need to alter the default Media Folder location change or the Shift-start. Just run iTunes and enjoy.
 

gregger77

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If you have your own login, there is no need to alter the default Media Folder location change or the Shift-start. Just run iTunes and enjoy.
Done! We're set up to use iTunes through separate Windows accounts. When I first opened iTunes as the new user, I "pointed" it to my library using Shift+Run just to confirm the correct file location, and iTunes set it as the default media folder location. When done I closed iTunes and logged out.

This is a good solution. I only use iTunes every month or so to add new music so for me it's no hassle. Thanks again for the suggestion and for answering all the dumb questions.

-- G.
 
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