Those of us who use iTunes know that we can share our iTunes libraries over our Local
Area Network; however sharing your iTunes library over the internet is a bit difficult
ever since Apple disabled that feature a few years ago. If you want to share your
iTunes music library over the Internet, accessTunes from Bains software just might
be your answer.
With iTunes, the application has to be open to allow sharing over you local network.
accessTunes allows your music to be shared without iTunes even being open. Sharing
starts as soon as you launch accessTunes, or you can even set it up to start sharing
as soon as your Mac is turned on. accessTunes allows you to share your iTunes library
on your local area network as well as make your iTunes library accessible anywhere
via the web. You also can monitor what people are listening to and protect your library
with a password for some extra security.
NOTE: At the time of this writing, accessTunes was owned by Bains Software; however,
it has recently been sold to Zelek Software and is currently unavailable from either
accessTunes requires any Mac running Mac OS 10.3 or later.
Setting up accessTunes is pretty simple. accessTunes is a downloadable application
that is compressed in a *.sit file. Once the *.sit file is expanded, an image is
mounted automatically displaying a folder containing the accessTunes application.
accessTunes folder - Install image
To install accessTunes,
all you have to do is drag the accessTunes folder to your hard disk. The first time
you launch accessTunes, the application asks that you register your copy of accessTunes
by entering a serial number. accessTunes also gives you free trial that allows you
to stream 50 songs. Once the trial is over, accessTunes requires you to purchase
a license. Additionally, you'll need to install the accessTunes daemon process before
you can use accessTunes. This one-time process installs a background task and requires
an Admin password.
Installing the accessTunes daemon
When first launched, sharing is off. Click on "Start Sharing", and accessTunes
searches your iTunes music library and automatically allows your music to be accessible.
It automatically opens your accessTunes preferences to let you adjust these settings.
Sharing your iTunes music via accessTunes Preferences
The preferences tab allows you to select just how you share your music via the web,
iTunes, or iTunes and the web. The preferences pane also allows you to set a password
that requires authorization to access your music via the web. The "Share naming"
drop down menu applies to iTunes Music Sharing. This drop down menu allows you to
change the text that shows up in the "Shared Music" list in iTunes. If
"User on Computer" is selected, you would see "My shared music"
in the shared music list. When the check box is checked by the name of the user (e.g.,
"Todd Ward" in the figure above), the music in that iTunes library will
be shared by accessTunes. If the user's name is double-clicked, additional settings
Additional settings for music sharing
This preferences window allows the user to select the entire library or specific
play lists to be shared by accessTunes. A drop down menu allows you to use a standard
name or your own custom name. There is also a field that allows you to enable a password
to be used for people to access your music.
After setting up your sharing, back on the accessTunes window, click again on the
"Start Sharing" button, and accessTunes activates sharing. Once sharing
has started, anyone on your local area network can begin listening to the music you
have selected to share.
accessTunes main window - Sharing now activated
Sharing between iTunes
via accessTunes is a no-brainer, but using accessTunes to share your iTunes library
via the web requires a little more setup. How accessTunes shares your iTunes library
via the web is done by accessTunes running it's own web server on port 8100. If your
computer is not behind a router or firewall, then you should be able to access your
music by simply using your IP address. In accessTune's web menu is a copy feature
that copies your IP address to your clipboard for this use.
If your computer is behind a firewall or router, however, then you will have to setup
port forwarding. In my case, I wanted to be able to share my music if I was out of
town, in my hotel or even let a few buddies able to listen to all my Pearl Jam bootlegs.
The read me file gives a great tutorial for setting up a port in your router as well
as ideas on how to set up a DNS so you can access your music anywhere in the world
via the web. The setup instructions were very clear and straightforward for any user
who knows how to setup a router.
Sharing via iTunes is the same as it would be to "share your music with iTunes".
Any computer on your local network can open iTunes, and under the Shared music section,
the music that is in the library or lists selected in accessTunes are available in
iTunes. Note that any music that has been purchased using the iTunes Music store
will not be streamed unless the computer accessing the music is authorized. For this
reason I made one specific play list that excluded those files and shared that play
Accessing your music over the web is where accessTunes really shines. Anyone with
internet access can enter your computer's IP address or DNS address in their favorite
web browser and start listening to your music. By default, the web sharing list downloads
a .m3u file which is then displayed in an external player (which is typically iTunes).
This can be changed by clicking on the "Options" link on the web page.
accessTunes web options
After clicking on Options, change the music to play in "your browser".
After clicking on "Save Changes", and then re-clicking on the Shared Music
library ("Todd Ward" in the example above), the library is again displayed
in your web browser, but this time if you click on the song, it will play directly
within the browser.
Playing music in the browser from an accessTunes shared library
As shown in the figure above, the music is now displayed in the lower left area of
the web page, and includes the standard Quicktime player controls, with the exception
of saving. accessTunes does a good job of ensuring that people cannot download your
music to their computer. The one downside of listening to music via the web, whether
played in the browser or in an external application, is that it only plays one song.
If it plays in your browser, it plays the song and then stops. If it plays in iTunes,
it plays the song and then plays the next song in your library, which depending upon
your current library sort, is likely not going to be a song from the accessTunes
shared library. Web sharing is a great way to let people sample your music, but not
the best method for playing playlists.
After giving a few of my friends access to my music library, they thought that the
streaming of my music had good quality and was on par with music that you would get
streamed from the internet. While others are playing my music, I can monitor the
connections by looking at the accessTunes main window. It doesn't display from what
IP address the connections are coming from, but it does display the song that it
currently being played.
accessTunes activity monitor displays song and time played
Shortly after installing
this application, I had to go on a business trip. With all the broadband Internet
access that is available in hotel rooms today, it was a pleasure to be able to listen
to my music in my hotel room while working. Especially since I forgot my iPod.
a handy iTunes supplement that allows you to share your iTunes library locally via
iTunes, or share it on the web. The way accessTunes shares music via iTunes is similar
to Apple's built-in sharing, but sharing music via the web is accessTune's strong
point, providing an easy and nifty way to share your music with friends and family,
or even with yourself when traveling. The music streaming is top quality, and provides
ample protection to prevent downloading your music illegally. The application was
very stable, and the web layout for viewing your library on the web is quite nice.
Playing music via the web only plays a single song at a time, so it's not the best
way to listen to playlists, but it is a great way to share music. All in all, I recommend
accessTunes for anyone who is interested in sharing their music via the web.
- High quality streaming
access to your iTunes library anywhere with internet access
- Great way to share
music with friends and family
- Can play music via
iTunes or directly on the web
- Great web interface
- Sharing via iTunes
feature is already built into iTunes
- Playing music on
the web only plays one song at a time
- Setting up web sharing
is a little involved if you are behind a firewall
4 out of 5 Mice