Keeping iTunes Synced Between Two Computers
By David Weedmark
Updated August 23, 2018
While iTunes can't automatically sync the same library between two computers the way it can with an iPhone or iPad, you can keep them in sync yourself. If you just want to sync the same music and videos between two computers in your office, iTunes Home Sharing is the most convenient option. If you want to sync your computer at home with the computer at work, you can use an iPhone, iPad or iPod to sync each of them. Apple lets you authorize up to five computers for the same content you purchased on iTunes.
Using Home Sharing
Ensure that both computers are on the same network. Download and install the latest version of iTunes on each computer if you don't have it already. (See Resources for the link.) Launch iTunes on both computers.
Go to the first computer, which is hosting the files you want to sync. Click the "File" menu, select "Devices" and then click "Turn on Home Sharing." The Home Sharing dialog box should open automatically. If it doesn't, select "Home Sharing" from the left side of the iTunes window where you normally select music or movies.
Enter the Apple ID and password you use to purchase media from the iTunes on this computer. Click "Create Home Share."
Go to the second computer. Click the "Store" menu in iTunes and select "Authorize Computer." Enter the same Apple ID and password you entered on the first computer.
Click the "Advanced" menu and select "Turn on Home Sharing."
Click the "Home Sharing" option in the left menu of iTunes. Wait several seconds for iTunes to recognize the share on the first computer. The Home Sharing option vanishes and a Home Share option appears.
Click the "Home Share" option in the left menu to see the content hosted on the first computer. Select the files you want to sync on both computers. Alternatively, click the "Edit" menu and then "Select All."
Click the "Import" button at the bottom of the window. All of the selected files are imported to this computer.
Import new content to the second computer whenever you add new content to the first computer by selecting the files in the Home Share and clicking the "Import" button.
Using an Apple Mobile Device
Connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod to the computer you normally sync with. Click the "Sync" button when iTunes launches unless the sync happens automatically. Eject the device.
Download and install iTunes on the second computer if you don't have it already. Click the "Store" menu and select "Authorize This Computer." Enter the Apple ID and password used on your Apple mobile device.
Connect the device to the second computer using its USB cable. A dialog box opens. Click the "Transfer Purchases" option. If this dialog box doesn't appear, select "Devices" from the File menu and then click "Transfer Purchases From (iPhone, iPad or iPod)."
Wait several minutes for the files on the Apple device to transfer to the computer. The status bar at the top of iTunes tells you the progress of the file transfer. When it is finished, you can safely eject the device by clicking the "Eject" button.
Sync the device with both computers on a regular basis to keep iTunes in sync.
You can also manually back up all of your iTunes files by copying them from Windows to an external disk. You can then copy the files to a second computer.
Information in this article applies to iTunes 11. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.