Ask LH: Can I Get Around Apple’s Device Limit?

Dear Lifehacker, I want to connect more of my iDevices to the one Apple account. I added it up the other day and I have way too many devices! There are two Mac Minis, three iPhones, four iPads and six iPad Nanos. 2 x Mac mini’s Apple has my money . We are a family of six and they are everywhere. I’m sure the kids are hiding more from me. Maybe the devices are breeding under the beds. But what to do? Is there any effective way I can share content from a single account with all those devices? Thanks, Apple Addict

Dear Apple Addict

I feel your pain. We’re a household with seven computers and a bunch of iOS devices. Most of the time, we get by on Apple’s five authorised device limit.

In our view, the five computer limit is a hangover from the days when the FairPlay DRM system was more restrictive than it is now and it’s a place where Apple hasn’t modernised its DRM as households have moved from one computer per home to multiple devices per person.

On the upside, you can sync any number of iOS devices with one iTunes library. In my house, we have designated a Mac mini as the official iTunes machine. It’s used for device syncing with everyone having their own playlists so they can sync according to their specific preferences.

One new feature that’s part of iOS 5 and iTune 10 is the ability to wirelessly sync across your network. If access to your library machine is limited or you don’t want to have seven sync cables hanging off your Mac, this can make life easier.

As far as sharing between machines, you can de-authorise individual computers and re-authorise them to work around the five computer limit for Home Sharing. That’s a pain but can work if most of the computers don’t need to be in constant contact with each other.

So, designate one central iTunes library machine and get all your iOS devices and iPods to sync from it using playlists for each person or device. The five computer limit for Home Sharing is a pain but can be worked around.

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