Home Sharing is a super-handy feature of iTunes, Apple TV, and iOS that lets you access items that exist in other iTunes libraries. Those other iTunes libraries can be in another account on the same Mac, or on a different Mac.
Home Sharing lets you do a bunch of different things with the music, movies, TV shows, and apps in your iTunes libraries:
- Copy items from other iTunes libraries to your own iTunes. This is a great way to avoid paying more than once for the same thing.
- Play content from one machine on another machine. Stream from iTunes to Apple TV, or pull from iTunes to Apple TV or your iPhone.
- Remote control your iTunes or Apple TV.
To use Home Sharing, both iTunes must be on the same network, that is, connected to the same router over wi-fi or Ethernet cable.
To play an item that was bought at the iTunes Store, that iTunes must be authorized with the same Apple ID that was used to buy the item.
Enable Home Sharing
This is the most crucial bit to know: Enter the same Apple ID and password in every iTunes that will use Home Sharing. Any Apple ID will work, but be consistent:
Using Home Sharing
To access other iTunes libraries, those iTunes must be open. If it’s iTunes on another computer, that computer must be awake with iTunes open.
On your iTunes you see a Sharing section in the sidebar. Select the library you want to get items from, and wait till the main window displays items in that library:
Now click the triangle to the left of the shared library name. You see categories of items, as well as other sub-categories with their own clickable triangles:
Items in the category you select are display in the main window. You can play music and video tracks, but the great thing is you can drag items to your own library to copy them into your iTunes. Your library is the first section in the sidebar:
If you want to play an item bought under a particular Apple ID, you must authorize your computer with that ID. A maximum of 5 computers can be authorized for a single Apple ID. (Always deauthorize computers before you get rid of them!) You need the Apple ID and the password to do this:
Bonus tip: If you forget to deauthorize a computer before you sell it, and then find yourself running up against the message “You Have Already Authorized Five Computers,” you can Deauthorize All Computers in your iTunes Store > Account. Then all you have to do is reauthorize each device you still own. (This is all way less dramatic than it sounds, but you should know that it works only once a year.)
But Wait, There’s More
If you have an Apple TV, turn on its Home Sharing: Go to Settings > Computers. Now you can play items on your computers while sitting on the sofa looking at the Apple TV. (This doesn’t work for the original silver Apple TV, but there are other ways to accomplish the same thing on that model.)
Home Sharing on your iPhone and iPad is in Settings > Music. With Home Sharing on, you can play items in other iTunes libraries with the sound coming out of the phone.
Finally, the neatest trick: Download the free Remote app from the iTunes Store to your iPhone or iPad. When you authorize the Remote app with the same Home Sharing ID you’ve used elsewhere, you can control your Apple TV or iTunes on your computers. That’s entertainment!
Note: Before you read this, you owe it to yourself to head over to Dropbox and sign up for a free account. It will be the best thing you’ve done on your computer all month. There is a video on the front page of Dropbox.com to explain why.
Besides straght use of its core feature—syncing your files and data between all your devices—my tip-top favoritest thing I can do with Dropbox is edit plain ol’ text files. Whether I start them on my iPad or Mac or iPhone, once they’re saved into Dropbox, they immediately show up everywhere else.
That may sound mundane, but trust me: this is cutting-edge stuff! Writers have always been chained to big clunky mechanisms. From ink-and-parchment to typewriters to the first massive “portable” computers (with their 5-inch screens) to modern laptops, we’ve never had true mobility, the liberty to change our writing environment at a whim. The archetype of the lonely author—in his favorite bathrobe, seated in his library pounding away at his keyboard—may go the way of the telegraph and the horse-drawn carriage.
My goal for my own writing life is to find my own perfect environment, not a physical one, but an undistracting digital space, where I can find all my drafts and finished pieces, no matter where I may find myself. Dropbox has become the key to that.
The right to write
Since finding this solution of plain text, synced with Dropbox, I’ve tried and recommended several different text-editor apps for the Mac and iPad. Elements, Nebulous Notes, OmmWriter, and Apple’s TextEdit have served me well (at least, when Elements wasn’t throwing frustrating error messages that forced me to quit and even reinstall the app). Meistergeek Brett Terpstra has supervised an insanely comprehensive matrix of all the text apps in iOS.
Just recently, however, my best writing app for the Mac has made it to iOS. Byword is just fantastic: clean, simple, and with just the right features to make me kick everything else to the curb, at least for the moment.
Byword’s default mode on the Mac is full-screen, hiding all other windows and toolbars behind a light-cream shade.
It behaves similarly on the iPad; the few buttons and controls are designed in faded grey, and the developer has included only the most important features and preferences, eliminating the urge to fiddle rather than write.
If I create a document on the Mac, which I can do in any text editor, I just save it in my Dropbox folder. I have linked my Dropbox account to Byword on iPhone and iPad, so it sees any text file in any folder there. Whatever edits I do get automatically synced. With Lion on the Mac, I don’t have to remember to hit Save.
This easy, no-save syncing is simply impossible with Microsoft Word. I haven’t used Word for writing in years.
When I’m ready to ship, I can just copy and paste, or email straight from the iOS app, or from the Mac file system, as an attachment, or as plain or formatted text.
The real magic
Wait, did I just say formatted? Indeed I did. For this is the big new tip for modern writer: you can format a plain-text file. Bold, italics, bullet lists, web links, even web images and footnotes…you can do it all.
The secret is Markdown. Markdown is a set of simple text codes you can use to indicate formatting. It takes just minutes to learn, and once you’ve got it, it’s yours forever.
One asterisk on either side of a *word*, for example, means italics. **Two asterisks** is bold.
Use asterisks or plus signs to make a bulleted list, so…
* my first item
* my next item
* my last item
- my first item
- my next item
- my last item.
Once you’ve finished writing and editing your doc, all that’s left is to ship it. I mentioned that you can email text directly out of Byword. BUT…if you format with Markdown, you can send email that’s all kinds of pretty, in ways that Apple’s Mail app just won’t do.
For bloggers, Markdown changes everything about generating a post, because it will convert all your formatting into sweet, sweet HTML code to be pasted into WordPress or your choice of platforms. My favorite CMS, Squarespace, even lets you edit in Markdown directly on your site.
Back to Byword: The biggest reason I landed on Byword as my go to composer is how super-smart it is about Markdown. There are quick shortcuts to the most common codes, and special behaviors to make the syntax even easier.
If, for example, I’m editing a numbered list with “1.,” “2.,” etc., I just hit return after each line and the next number is generated. Ditto for bulleted lists. Also, on the Mac, all the Markdown codes fade into the background, and keyboard shortcuts will insert codes for bold, italics, links, lists, and images.
Always-on preview: I have just one more Power Tip. Once you have started using Markdown, it is worth popping on over to the Mac App Store and picking up Marked for $3.99. Wen you open a Markdown file in Marked, you get a constantly updated preview of your formatted file. This is as opposed to hitting Preview in Byword every few minutes to see what your end result will look like. Marked also offers the best HTML and rich-text export for pasting into email or your blog.
The end result
I guarantee, if you follow these simple recommendations, the combo of Dropbox + Byword + Markdown will rock your writing world. I wish you a happy life of letters!
What a fantastic bunch of new toys and tools to talk about! Since Lion, iPhone 4S, iOS 5, and iCloud have come out, we have some recommendations to make. Here goes:
iOS 5: Go get it!
The free update to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches is nothing but awesome. Better notifications, better messaging, faster camera access, readable web pages in Safari, and location-based reminders… Whew. I’m really pleased by the whole lot of features. Run, don’t walk, to update your iTunes to 10.5, and then plug in your iPad or iPhone (3GS or later).
You’ll be invited to begin updating your device to iOS 5.0. Agree to the license, yadda yadda, and it will start downloading. Might take a while, depending on your internet speed, and then iTunes will start applying the update to your gadget.
The entire process can take between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on how much stuff you keep on your phone or tablet, so set it running when you can be without your little digital lifeline for a bit. (I know. I get the shakes too, sometimes.)
iPhone 4S: Can I have mine now, please?
(Many of you already have Siri Assistant on your phones, because we put it there, starting about two years ago. As of today, that older version is defunct.)
I chose not to pre-order my iPhone 4S, because I remember the 3GS+MobileMe debacle two years ago. As eager as I can get for the latest-and-greatest, I don’t need it badly enough to justify downtime. But anyone ordering from now on will receive the phone long after iCloud is in full swing, thus enabling some very cool features, including photo sync between devices.
Lion: Hold Til Ready
OS X 10.7 “Lion” is lovely. A tasty chocolate coating around a very solid, nutritious walnut of a system that was 10.6 Snow Leopard.
They called me Coleridge in pre-school.
Most people will want to upgrade to Lion, and will be very happy with the new system. Installing is easy: If you have Snow Leopard, and you keep up with Software Updates, you can buy Lion for $29 from the Mac App Store in your Dock. It will install itself right in place, restarting when it needs to.
Many features in Lion are refreshing, especially the full-screen modes available in many apps. Schedule us at j2mac.com and we’ll show you how to use multi-touch gestures, recover auto-saved versions of your documents, and organize your workspaces!
Auto-resume of apps and documents after a reboot is easy to get used to. Scooting around your workspace with a trackpad instead of a mouse is the wave of the future. Apple has reduced visual clutter, and aimed at keeping their users productive. (Some of the prettiness in Lion I can do without. A lot of it I turn off, grateful there’s a switch.)
But Lion is still young, and a bit wobbly. We’ve found instabilities in iChat and elsewhere, and some things just don’t seem to work like they should. A second update, 10.7.2, just hit on October 12, and we are hoping it will clear up some of the inconsistencies.
Another issue affecting long-time Mac users is that programs written before 2006 won’t run on Lion. At all. This includes Microsoft Office 2004 and Internet Explorer. Good riddance and all, for sure; but a lot of you don’t have Office 2008 or 2011, and at least one office still needs IE for the Mac for time tracking.
We’ll look at iCloud in a sec. It’s very slick… and it requires Lion. I’ve upgraded my MobileMe to iCloud, so because I can’t live without Address Book syncing between all my computers, I am going to have to upgrade my second laptop this weekend. I just have to go through my applications and figure out what I need to export from those older programs. Most newer Mac users won’t have to deal with this process at all, but we are happy to help those who do.
Organizations with a bunch of Macs should hold off for now, until a hardware or software upgrade requires them to move forward. For businesses using a Mac server, I’m also officially recommending against upgrading to Lion Server until at least 10.7.3.
iCloud: The point is moot, the cloud is yours
iCloud is the very worthy successor to MobileMe. If you are using MobileMe, you will transition to iCloud services by June 2012. If you have a new iPhone or iPad, or you update to iOS 5, you’ll be living in the iCloud.
When it launched, iCloud had some trouble, and I couldn’t sign up until a day later. But everything seems clear now, and I am so far very pleased by iCloud’s function: Photo Stream syncs your photos from iPhone to iPad to iPhone. The Find My Mac feature could recover your computer from theft.
It does appear that all your MobileMe configurations will continue to work until next year, so if you are hanging onto older phones and computers for a bit, you don’t have to be rushed about making the move. Give us a call at 210-787-2709 or email our new Help Desk! at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure it all goes smoothly.
Steve Jobs is directly responsible for my livelihood, my passion for technology, and even many of my hobbies and pastimes. Even for this 1984-baptized Mac geek, computers were clunky, nearly pointless contraptions until Steve returned to Apple in 1997. (Perhaps the internet helped a little.) I may no longer be the Apple fanboy that I once was, but I’m awed to have witnessed this fundamental change in our civilization that this one guy helped usher in.
“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Your man in the cloud,
I’m out if town, and need to access my documents on my home iMac from the laptop I have with me. How can I do that?
1) File Sharing: You can easily get to files on the iMac when you are at home with your laptop. All you do is, on the iMac, make sure File Sharing is on: Apple menu > System Preferences > Sharing. Then, on the MacBook Pro, go to Finder > File menu > New Finder Window > left sidebar > Shared section. Click on the iMac, and to the right, click Connect As… Enter the user name and password you use on the iMac (it’s nice to standardize these on all computers). Here’s Apple’s more complete tutorial on File Sharing.
Also, you can turn on Screen Sharing in that same System Preferences pane, and then the button Share Screen… will appear next to Connect As…
2) Back to My Mac: You may have the Back to My Mac part of the MobileMe service set up in System Preferences > MobileMe > Back to My Mac. If that’s working, your iMac will appear on your laptop, in that same Shared section of the left sidebar of your Finder windows, even when you’re not in the house. Note: Back to My Mac is notoriously finicky about routers; unsurprisingly, it plays very smoothly with Apple Airport devices. See item (1) for getting to your stuff once you’ve found your Back-to-My-Mac-enabled Mac.
3) iCloud: This fall, Apple will evolve the MobileMe service into iCloud The cost will change to free, and syncing files and photos between your computers will be one of the flagship features. One can look online for some previews of how iCloud will work.
4) Dropbox: This to me is the winner. Until iCloud appears, and perhaps even after, my favorite way to see my files everywhere is called Dropbox. There are other services almost exactly like Dropbox, but they don’t have its simplicity, accessibility, and widespread adoption. I use Dropbox to synchronize not just my documents, but also my secure databases, shopping and task lists, and frequently used text snippets. Some of our clients share and sync their QuickBooks company files with their bookkeepers.
Dropbox’s pricing is either free for 2GB storage, $10/month for 50GB, or $20/month for 100GB. (That’s a referral link: you and I each get an extra 250MB of storage, up to a 10GB limit!) The iPhone/iPad app is free, and the iPhone word processor I’m typing this on now is $5, and syncs with Dropbox.
5) LogMeIn: Finally, the best free service for remote screen-sharing is LogMeIn. It has a good, albeit $30-pricey, iOS app, and I use it and the web app all the time to help clients. Until this year, LogMeIn Free only offered screen control of your remote computers, but recently they added the awesome feature of being able to access and download files from a remote machine, even to your iPad. This is not sync à la Dropbox, but very useful nonetheless.
Any of these solutions is easy and cheap to implement. I keep Dropbox and LogMeIn going all the time. Call me if you would like further guidance.
I gotta admit, until Apple made their big June presentation, this year had been ho-hum for this nerd. New iPad — yeah, cool, whatever, but wasn’t there supposed to be a whole mess of tablets, each cooler than the next? Meh. Even when they finally shipped, they failed to impress.
Then we got a faceful of geek downers: WikiLeaks persecuted, Sony’s networks disabled, and hacks and security breaches every day. Unfortunately, it’s time for me devote a whole ’nuther couple of newsletters to the darker side of the Internet. I am even gonna beg that everyone either read ’em, or otherwise educate themselves on keeping their data secure.
But I want to do the FUN STUFF FIRST!
<p>Nothing like a good Apple keynote to stir it all back up again. Last month, Jobs and Co. unveiled their next generation software, with good, solid material for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and even for this new-fangled internet the kids are on about all the time. </p>
For the phone and tablet, we’re getting a bunch of new features in the fall. You can read about all the goodness in iOS 5, but among my favorite bits are quicker camera access, wireless syncing and backups, notifications all grown up, and instantly legible articles in Safari. Bold & italics in email, too… Hey, anyone wanna know how I just did that on my iPad?
There are some hot ’n’ heavy rumors about built-in voice control and voice-to-text transcription. These goodies, as well as turn-by-turn navigation, already distinguish Android from the Apple devices. Perhaps these boons will be bestowed upon the iFaithful this year. Perhaps typing on the iPhone will no longer suck quite so bad.
Perhaps iPhone will come with a flying rainbow gumdrop pony.
One other credible guess is that a new iPhone will hit in time for the holidays. Nerds and analysts predict a refresh of the current phone, with faster “4G” Internet.
By the way, in case this whole “3G/4G” thing has you muddled, you’re not alone. The phone companies have deliberately confused you. Here’s the scoop:
<p>”G” does stand for “generation,” not of the iPhone, but of cell phones in general. It mostly refers to the internet on your phone. </p>
- 1G was the first consumer-affordable cell phone network. Remember the big bricks in the 80’s, with fat rubber antennae and batteries with lives shorter than a ballpark hot dog?
- 2G was the first digital cell network. Think your first cell phone: candybar-size, with a black-and-grey screen. Made phone calls, and we thought it good. This second generation eventually featured the mobile internet. The first iPhone was advanced 2G, featuring slow, but functional, web surfing.
- 3G is where most of us are now. Darn good internet, serving most people’s needs. The second, third, and fourth iPhones have all been 3G.
- The term “4G” is controversial. It actually refers to a specific standard for super-fast wireless internet… that doesn’t actually exist in the real world, at least not in a commercially available form. The cell phone companies, unwilling to wait for this tech to become viable, have instead rolled out networks that are indeed faster than 3G, and called them “4G.” The nerds have moaned and groused, but they don’t got the money, honey.
Make sense? All the other major cell phone manufacturers and carriers have successful 4G [sic] products. The main beef with the current lineup is real sad battery life. I want to guess that this issue prevented Apple from releasing an iPhone in June. If they can get a faster phone, with a faster connection, and uncompromised power supply, they’ll have the competition beat once again.
Credit to Engadget’s primer on the subject.
<p>To date, the iPhone models have been iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3G S (for “speed”), and iPhone 4. Most pundits are guessing at “iPhone 4G.” </p>
If you own an iPhone 4, and don’t find yourself thinking, “Gosh, I wish this was faster,” then perhaps you’d want to wait ’til next year for an upgrade. Owners of older phones might look to the autumn to renew their contract and get a spankin’ new subsidized jobby. And remember, you can always ditch your old phone on sites like Gazelle for a tidy sum.
(Another prediction calls for a 4G iPad this autumn, but I bet against it.)
<h3>The Mac</h3> <p><img src="http://www.downloadatoz.com/resources/201104/26/imgs/os-x-lion-150x150_128x128.jpg" alt="lion logo" title="" align="left" height=15%" hspace="12"/>The Mac operating system is getting a big makeover, too. Mac OS X 10.7 is nicknamed Lion, and I will spare you any feline puns now. You’re welcome. </p> <p>The big new features, coming to Macs in July as a <i>download in the Mac App Store (!)</i> are listed <a href="http://www.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/">here</a>. I am curious to see whether the average Mac user takes to things like full-screen apps and document grouping, but Auto Save, Versions, and Resume rank up with Time Machine and Spotlight as major moves forward: imagine never ever losing work again! Perhaps it won’t be fail-proof at first, but I like to imagine it’ll be close enough to save our collective butt consistently. </p> <p><a href="http://www.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/mission-control.html"><img src="http://images.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/images/gestures_missioncontrol_screen.jpg" alt="Mission Control" title="Mission Control in Lion" height="30%" align="right" style="padding:5px;" /></a>On the geekier hardware side: The latest refreshes of iMacs and Pro laptops feature the new, blazing-fast <a href="http://www.apple.com/thunderbolt/">Thunderbolt</a> data port, and this is big news for the near future of computing. We want to move stuff <em>quick</em> between computer and backup or other storage. Conventional hard drives feel slow, and so does USB, compared to the new solid-state drives (SSD) that started appearing in the first MacBook Air in 2008. SSDs are now common, though still comparatively expensive; Thunderbolt connections will increase demand for faster storage, which will bring prices down. </p>
What this could mean for you: getting hundreds of pictures and videos off your camera in seconds, copying high-def movies to your media jukebox in a snap, and backups happening so quickly you don’t even think about it.
Last I heard, inventory of Mac minis, MacBook Airs, and Mac Pros is dwindling, and I think we are getting ready to see at least new Mac minis with Lion Server and Thunderbolt. I have been holding out for a new media server and a new laptop. I’m saving up!
I also want to state here and now my own most ridiculous prediction: a slim rack-mountable server appliance to replace the Xserve (R.I.P. 2011). I want a solid-state drive to boot quickly, and two 500GB hard drives for data. And I want Windows guys to pee themselves when they see it.
<p>As to when I recommend you upgrade, it’s easiest for me to hold to my <a href="http://j2mac.com/2009/09/so-far-snow-good-10-6-in-brief/">recommendations for prior versions</a>: If you really need to, OK, but if you can hold off until Apple’s goes through a couple of revisions, you’ll increase your chance of a smooth transition. Server owners, especially, should wait at least until 10.7.2 or thereabouts. </p> <h3>The Maybe</h3> <p>The real curiosity in Apple’s presentation was <a href="http://www.apple.com/icloud/what-is.html">iCloud</a>, an online service to succeed MobileMe, and then some. It will cost exactly nothing.</p>
The things iCloud purports to do include:
- sync your contacts, calendar, and other data
- store documents for easy access on any device or computer
- automatically backup any photos taken on the mobile devices to the internet, making them instantly available on all your other devices and computers
- automatically sync anything you purchase in iTunes between devices.
In addition, for $25 a year, we’ll get iTunes Match, which will be a bit of magic I’ve craved for years — the ability to store music I already own so that you can play it anywhere. This will not be limited to stuff I’ve bought through iTunes. Any mp3 or AAC file I have on any computer will either be uploaded to Apple’s servers, or matched against a track already hosted by iTunes.
As I mentioned in this blog post, Apple’s history of online services has been at times spotty, ill-conceived, or poorly implemented. This time, they seem to be serious about learning from their mistakes, and their new giant data center in North Carolina speaks to a new dedication to keeping our stuff safe and accessible. ICloud sounds like a serious, considered utility aimed to solve some very real, very new problems.
That said, “cloud computing” means using all of the online services pertinent to one’s work and lifestyle. Apple mostly creates solutions for individual consumers, and just a few for businesses. Just as MobileMe never became “MobileUs,” iCloud is not intended to be “weCloud,” and the marketplace for online solutions for businesses large and small continues to grow and thrive. Besides the obvious lifestyle applications, I’m totally jazzed to see how businesses can use all this shiny new Apple tech to keep bringing in the bacon. We know we’ll have a good soundtrack while we fry it up.
In a couple of days, I’ll put out two security emails. Please stay tuned!
- On old phone, turn Airplane Mode on, so no new text messages come in.
- Plug old phone into your Mac.
- In iTunes, right-click on old phone, and choose Backup.
- Let the backup finish.
- Unplug old phone, and plug in new one.
- incidentally, good idea to charge new phone all the way before use.
- Ignore any stuff about MobileMe.
- If everything is not in place, you need to go through the various tabs in your iPhone’s settings in iTunes, and make sure that all the conduits are set to sync correctly, the right apps are chosen and placed on the right screens, etc.
- Because I’m just a little OCD about this stuff, I like to hit “Sync” one final time.
Yes, the phone is somewhat faster, though not blazingly so. Yes, I really really like iOS 4, and was pleased by the upgrade process on my 3GS. Yes, I’m real glad I could grandfather my $30 “unlimited” [sic] AT&T data plan. Yes, I think AT&T is missing the boat of the future with Mifis and other portable wireless hotspots. Yes, I think everyone should order the iPhone 4 right now.
I do some word processing on a laptop at home, and then need to do work on some of the same documents on my computer at work. So far, this has led to a jumble of back-and-forth emails and disorganized files. What’s the solution?
For what it’s worth, there are other services like Dropbox out there, including but not limited to SugarSync and Box.net, but through sheer simplicity and elegance, Dropbox has so far garnered most of the love. The iPad app is off. The. Hook.