How Home Sharing Works in macOS Catalina

For years, iTunes has had a Home Sharing feature, that allowed you to share your library across a network. Users in your home, dorm, or office could listen to your music, and even copy it to their computers. They could stream videos from your library, and this was a good way to maintain a movie and TV show library on a Mac and stream content locally to an Apple TV.

Perusing macOS Catalina I was initially worried that Home Sharing had been removed, because there was nothing about it in the Music app, but I found that they feature had been shunted to a new location: the Sharing pane of System Preferences.

Media sharing2

This makes a lot of sense. With iTunes split into four apps, you wouldn’t want to have to turn it on for each app. But this centralized media sharing has a great advantage: you don’t need to launch any of the apps to be able to share their content. As long as the computer hosting the media is running, you can load its content on another computer, an Apple TV, or on iOS (in the Music or TV apps). And if you have Wake for Network Access checked in the Energy Saver preferences, your library is accessible even if the host Mac is asleep. (On a laptop, this only works if it’s connected to power.)

This is a great change to the Home Sharing feature, and it will make it a lot easier to set up a master library to use on multiple devices.

6 thoughts on “How Home Sharing Works in macOS Catalina

  1. Thanks for posting this! Having to leave iTunes open meant I seldom used the feature – I’d go to use it and realize iTunes wasn’t open. Now I can set this and it will always be available!

  2. Kirk — Your point about being able to access media on an Apple laptop as long as it’s connected to power is not completely correct. The lid of the laptop must also be open. The only way to maintain access with the lid closed is to: 1) connect it to power; 2) connect an external display; 3) connect a keyboard; and 4) connect a mouse. Even 3rd party apps that keep your Mac awake can not override the lid being closed. Please see the discussion of this issue from the developer of the leading such app https://iffy.freshdesk.com/support/solutions/articles/48000078421-mac-still-sleeps-after-closing-lid

  3. I use that feature all the time and it sucked that I had to make sure that no one in the house was listening to music or watching something before I hit iTunes. This is a great improvement and feature!

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