Now that I’ve pretty much ended my quest for a great calendaring solution for the family, I’ve turn my attention to sharing our media. Like a lot of families, I have a ton of music, pictures, and video scattered acrossed a number of machines. I’ve corralled a lot of this data to one SAMBA share on my Ubuntu server. This is good – as now I have one central place for all data that my family can now avoid on purpose. “What server?”, “uh, where can I find that movie/song/pic?”, etc. No matter, I will win them over soon (well… eventually.)
In any event, my wife asked me last night to put some new songs on her iPhone as all she has is older music – her musice dated back to circa 2009. Biting back the first sarcastic comment that came to mind (“You can find it on the server..”), I said sure. This little exercise was going to eat through my evening. Just because everything is in one location, everyone has their own iTunes database and none of them are up to date with the contents of collection. I thought I would have to blow away her iTunes database and import everything in the library again, or I would have to at least manually add every new song. However, I found a neat little procedure that save a ton of time and thought I would share it.
A little bit about the setup. I’ve already explained that I’ve a Ubuntu server with a SAMBA share that stores all of our media. I have directories for Music, Movies, Pictures, etc. Every one’s Mac mounts the SAMBA share with the same name: Public. When I set up iTunes on everyone’s machine, I simply pointed iTunes to the appropriate share and had iTunes discovery all the music (without copying the song over to the local machine, of course.) I have a very simple subdirectory structure in the Music directory: <Artist>\<Album>\<songs> files. The file names of the songs are generally just the name of the song, as I make heavy use of MP3 tagging to sort and categorize in iTunes. Complilations or soundtracks are filed under “Various Artists”. This allows me to add new artist, albums, etc. without really having to thinking about where I put stuff.
Generally once I have the new content in place, I go into my iTunes to manually add the newly added content since iTunes doesn’t have the ability to automatically scan a directory for new music. (Thanks Apple!) Now, to get the information to my kids’ or wife’s machines, I just tell them what artist/album I just added and they can manually add the stuff to their machines. Again, everyone’s iTunes collection is different.
So back to the neat workaround I found. My latest import of songs I had put into a playlist in iTunes. At first I was trying to find what songs my wife wanted and then I decided that let me just give her my everything on my playlist. I figured that I’ll just get the location of all the new songs from the playlist and manually add the entries on her MacBook.
After playing around with iTunes for a bit I notice that iTunes has the ability to export playlists to a text file. I figure this should be make it easier for me to find the music and I’ll have checklist of the neccessary songs. When I opened the text file, I notice that the location of the songs were Public:Music\<artist>\<album>\<song>. This had me thinking – since everyone has the same name for the SAMBA share, couldn’t I just import this playlist on the other machines? A real quick search later revealed that iTunes allows for importing. Sweet.
I jump on my wife’s MacBook and made sure she had the SAMBA share opened. I simply then opened iTunes and imported the playlist. iTunes automatically added all the new songs to her local iTunes database and created a playlist with the new songs. Now I have a simple way of distributing new songs to the rest of the family.
Of course the next thing is find out how to syncronize the iTunes databases – or better yet, just get iTunes to automatically scan for new content.