When macOS Catalina finally drops, you’re going to notice a number of big changes. One of the more memorable ones is Apple’s grand transformation of iTunes into standalone Music, Video, and Podcast apps. We love the move, but it does lead to a few questions, like “How do you share media around your house?”
How sharing used to work in iTunes
Though annoying to use, iTunes came with an incredibly handy feature—library sharing—that made it easy to share the contents of your iTunes library with other systems on your home network. You simply pulled up the app’s preferences, clicked on the big blue “Sharing” button, and let ‘er rip. (When I was in college, this was the best and easiest way to expose yourself to a digital smorgasboard of music.)
iTunes also had Home Sharing, which let you log into a maximum of five other Apple devices—using the same account as your computer—and import your media. In other words, it’s a step up from simple sharing and streaming, hence the login restriction.
I realise, by the way, that iTunes still exists on Windows (for now), so perhaps talking about this all in the past tense is a little unfair. I don’t think Apple is planning to invest much development time on that app—I wouldn’t, at least.
How sharing works in macOS Catalina
First off, there’s no more library sharing. Or, at least, you won’t find that setting within macOS Catalina’s new Music app. Some of the preferences look quite similar to iTunes, but there’s no Sharing tab anymore.
You can still access shared iTunes libraries, but the option is a bit buried. Click on the tiny drop-down arrow next to “Library” to access any other iTunes shares on your home network, like your Windows PCs, non-Catalina Macs, or an iTunes server running on a NAS box.
To set up media sharing from your macOS Catalina system, you’ll need to head over to your System Preferences’ Sharing section. There, you’ll see a new Media Sharing service. Enabling “Share media with guests” turns on the same library sharing you would have seen previously in iTunes, and you’ll also be able to turn Home Sharing if you want to try that out, too.
While this move makes sense on paper, we suspect most people are hardwired to look for music-sharing options within their apps, not their System Preferences. A little breadcrumb would have been nice within the Music app, but now that you know, you’ll never forget.