Stream Audio & Video from Mac to iOS 4.3 Device

| How-To

One of the coolest new features of iOS 4.3 is iTunes Home Sharing to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. That allows you to stream content, video, music, podcasts from your Mac or PC iTunes library to your handheld iOS device. Here’s how to set it up.

First, this how-to doesn’t go into the differences between the classic iTunes Sharing and Home Sharing. If you’re unsure about that, see “Confused about iTunes Home Sharing?” by Ted Landau or “Activating Home Sharing in iTunes” by this author.

Next, if you’re just getting started with this, it’s probably best to make sure that you only have Home Sharing enabled with one of all your PCs and Macs. That’s usually your primary iTunes Library, all backed up with Time Machine.

1. To recap, to enable Home Sharing on your PC/Mac, go to iTunes 10.2.1 or later (to support iOS 4.3) and click on the Advanced menu.

Home Share 1

Advanced Menu

Select “Turn On Home Sharing.” Enter your corresponding iTunes account name and password for this library. You can share this library with up to five devices. Heretofore, it was just a PC, Mac or Apple TV. With iOS 4.3, you can share to iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Home Sharing 2

Home Sharing

Once you do that, your iTunes Home Sharing is essentially “announced” on your home network.

2. Let’s use an iPad as an example because it’s a lot of fun to stream to. On the iPad, go to Settings -> iPod. In iOS 4.3, you’ll see a new option with the label “Home Sharing.” Again, enter your credentials.

Home Sharing 3

iPad Settings -> iPod

3. Now here’s the tricky part. To receive streamed music, audio books and audio podcasts on the iPad, use the iPod app — which you probably already have in the Dock at the bottom. Then, in a rather counter intuitive fashion, touch the grey bar that says “Library” in the upper left.

Home Sharing 4

Audio Library Selection

At that point you’ll see a popover that shows the Home Shared library you previously enabled. Touch it. Now you can select items from your shared library and play audio them on your iPad.

4. However, to play videos on your iOS device, you’ll have to change apps. This time, launch the Video app, which is also probably in your Dock. Now, you’ll see a new tab item at the top called Shared (touch it) and an icon for your Home Shared library (touch that too.) It may take a few seconds for the item icons to update.

Home Sharing 5

Video Home Shared Icon

When that opens, you’ll see tabs for your Movies, TV Shows, music videos, and video podcasts. Just touch an item to open the player, select an episode if necessary, and stream it to your iPad.

Home Share 6

Your shared video content 

Now you can roam anywhere within your home Wi-Fi network and curl up with your favorite TV show or movie in your iTunes library without having to actually download it to your iPad. That can save a lot of space, and the only videos you need to sync are those you take on the road.

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Does Home Sharing still have the limitation that it only works with media bought from the iTunes store? iTunes purchases makes up less than 1 percent of my media collection, so this has never been any use to me.

John Martellaro

I don’t know that Home Sharing ever had that restriction—to HDCP Display or Apple TV.

Everything I’ve tried has played on my iPad, including DVD’s I’ve ripped, imported .mpgs, and digital copies (that came with Blu-ray discs: Iron Man II and Star Trek) and TV shows in the screen shot above.

Lee Dronick

Does Home Sharing still have the limitation that it only works with media bought from the iTunes store? iTunes purchases makes up less than 1 percent of my media collection, so this has never been any use to me.

I have several movies that I have created and can view them via sharing.


Maybe it’s automatic syncing that only works with iTunes purchases? If that’s the case why is it any better than just dragging files around?

Pat Mahon

Does Home Sharing still have the limitation that it only works with media bought from the iTunes store?

graxspoo (?) If you can play it in iTunes then you can stream it via Home Sharing. FYI Make sure you are on the same SSID network even if (one is in bridge mode) and connected via ethernet to the other, although the same network, it will be slower and not recommended for Home Sharing streaming of video files.
As to “why is it any better than dragging files around?”... Well if you can’t see the value then it obviously is no better for you.

I hope this helps.


I guess the way this is supposed to work is still a little confusing to me. I’ve tried before to keep iTunes libraries in sync using utilities like Tune Ranger or Super Sync, but they all have failed miserably. When Home Sharing first was announced it sounded like it would do something like this for you, but it only works with purchased content. With iTunes purchased content if Home Sharing is enabled if you buy it on one Mac, it is automatically copied to the other Macs… But NOT if you rip a CD or get content into the library some other way, and presumably playlists ratings and other meta info don’t get synchronized either. So, Home Sharing fails on that front. If its supposed to be simply for streaming stuff, and then there’s already that other sharing feature. Why didn’t Apple add “streaming to iOS devices” as a feature to the regular peer-to-peer sharing feature that has been in iTunes forever, rather than the crippled Home Sharing? Then there’s also “air tunes.” It’s getting way too complicated.


I have 4 macs all with Home Sharing turned on. Each mac can see the other 3 macs in the shared section in iTunes.  But my 4th gen. iPod Touch can only ever see 2 of the shared libraries in the Music and Videos apps at any one time. The “Remote” app can see all 4 libraries.  Strange.

@ graxspoo.  I manually keep my 2 of my Itunes libraries in sync using the “Show items not in my library” option and “Importing” the items I want in both libraries.  Playlists can be a problem - I import and export playlists and sync them between machines using Dropbox (the app). I can appreciate why you think it’s confusing and falls short. My advice is - don’t sync, share!


I dont like iTunes and therefore I use the WiFi2HiFi app:

Its like homesharing without iTunes.


Has anyone tested sharing to multiple iPhones or iPod touches at the same time?  Can I use iTunes on the Mac while someone else is accessing shared content, or does that cause performance issues?


Yeah, the problem with sharing is you have to know which machine the media you want to access is on, and that machine has to be turned on and connected to the network. I really just want a single media server in my house that has a master list of everything.

The problem I have is that I rip a lot of stuff at work. I also wind up rating it while I’m working. Then I want to transport all of that back home. There’s no good way to do it automatically that I’ve found.

And, while at home, I often buy or rip things on my laptop, or some other machine besides my media server (macmini). So then when I want to listen to it later the laptop is put away. I wind up with very divergent iTunes libraries on my different machines and no way of consolidating them into one place.

Home Sharing sounded like it was going to solve this problem, but it didn’t. I’m considering ditching iTunes completely and just having a way to copy the mp3s around and then access them through Boxee or XBMC, but that has its own disadvantages (like not being able to sync with my iPhone etc).


I agree. Organising media across multiple iTunes libraries can be a challenging task.  I’ve found no automatic way of doing it and so I spend a good deal of time managing the thing manually. I also spent time figuring out a workable media maintenance strategy. I’ve finally developed procedures that work (for me). If I ever started over again I wouldn’t try to sync. The direction is now sharing/streaming and Airplay.

graxspoo,  The activities you describe ( buying, ripping and rating on multiple machines) are at odds with your objective of wanting “a single media server… that has a master list of everything”.
I think that objective (given the things you do at work and at home) is not attainable - certainly not automatically and probably not manually - even assuming you have the time!


Lancashire- You’re probably right, but I think it points up the fact that iTunes is straining under the weight of being an everything-to-everyone media server. My use patterns aren’t that unusual. Having multiple devices works fine as long as only one of them is a Mac and the rest are iOS devices. Apple simply hasn’t put much time into the problem of synchronizing multiple Macs. For now the best I can do is just copy files onto a thumb drive at work and reimport them at home. Not foolproof or automatic, and doesn’t handle meta-data, but workable.


Ah - ha!  Two good points, graxspoo.
1. iTunes has suffered, and continues to suffer, from “scope-creep”. A label that dates from 1970s large mainframe systems that indicates, like Topsy, it just grew.
2. Macs work best when there’s just one of them. That’s why it’s called “Home Sharing” not “Home Syncing”. You are meant to share your Itunes library with iOS devices and other macs (if you insist), not sync it with other Macs. Syncing (in Home Sharing) is really designed to avoid multiple purchases (from the ITunes store) of the same item.

But I guess you knew that! grin


Lancashire - This is what iTunes says when you turn on “Home Sharing”:

“Home Sharing helps you manage your family’s iTunes collection, by copying iTunes Store purchases among computers in your home. iTunes can automatically copy new purchases, or you can choose the items you want to copy.”

Note the number of times the word ‘copy’ is used in this description. Note also it doesn’t say a blessed thing about streaming in there. iTunes has another “sharing” feature you access through Preferences that let’s you stream music between computers. Why not just extend it to iOS devices? The original sharing feature also has the benefit of not being tied to an Apple ID. Why should all the computers I want to stream from be tied to a single ID? That’s silly… but since this is the case, it REALLY means I’d better get all my music onto my main media server, or else every Mac in my house will need to use the same Apple ID. This is why I think it is so strange to connect iOS streaming with “Home Sharing.”

Anyway, I DO own multiple Macs, and I’m sure Apple is happy about that. I just wish they’d give me a little more love.


graxspoo; Yea - I don’t seem to make a whole lotta sense sometimes. I should have said “transferring purchases is really designed to ... “. And Sharing means Playing and Copying.

I agree the differences between the original library sharing and Home Sharing can be confusing - that’s probably why Ted wrote the piece John refers to.

There’s a difference between syncing and copying. You can easily create and maintain a library which is a copy of all your other libraries combined.  Just connect to each home-shared library; select Show - Items not in my library; select all; click import.  Do that regularly and you will have a single master list of everything - but it won’t be tidy; there could be an overwhelming number of duplicates; and I don’t call it “syncing”.

Why should it all be tied to a single Id? - because (Apple says) it’s for personal use! So I use a single id on all Macs in the household. It took me quite a while to set that up - and I cursed Cupertino every step of the way. But I think it’s easier than trying to maintain a single master media server- because true library syncing proved to be elusive with HS and, as you pointed out, Apple has not provided a feature to synchronise itunes libraries across multiple macs. Pity. I wish I could tell you I’ve found the answer.


So, for Mac to Mac streaming, anyone can do it as long as they’re on the same network. Don’t even need a password. But Mac to iOS streaming not only requires a password, but you must also have the same Apple ID? How does this help a ‘family’ share music? Seems like its good for a single person, and that’s about it. Nutty, nutty, nutty.

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