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How to Create and Use Multiple iTunes Libraries on a Single Mac Login

How to Create and Use Multiple iTunes Libraries on a Single Mac Login

Sharing a Mac with others can be a headache, especially when it comes to things like separating each user’s iTunes, iPhoto, and other library-based content. Using multiple logins is one way to make short work of putting up some divisions – but that’s not always the ideal solution. Fortunately, there’s another way: You can create and switch between different iTunes libraries on a single Mac login! Here’s how it’s done!

There are a variety of reasons why someone might like to use multiple iTunes libraries. One example might be that you have multiple people with iOS devices that each want their own music and apps, but you don’t feel the need to have separate logins in OS X.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Make sure iTunes is closed.
  • Hold the option key, and keep holding it while launching iTunes.
  • Select a library you’d like to load, or create a new one.

Switching between various libraries is a simple matter of repeating the process. In my case, I have an 8GB iPod nano that I use to store my meditation music. Keeping the nano on its own library (with only those tracks) makes it easier to separate its special content from my main collection of content that I load onto my iPhone and iPads.

I hope you have found this as useful as I did! Let us know in the comments!

For more helpful tips, check out our full collection of tutorials by visiting our How-To category!

  1. The same trick works with iPhoto. The thing is that it is that even though this does work, I do not think that it was what Apple had in mind for both iPhoto and iTunes. This is more of an emergency procedure if you need to fix corrupted libraries or move them from computer to computer. Still, it is a cool thing to know about.

  2. John Lobert says:

    Why not do this with playlists in the same library? Not sure I understand the advantage of this method.

  3. Tony Criswell says:

    You can also use Libra by Sillybit. Although they announced the retirement of the program because of problems with iTunes 11, I have used it since iTunes 11 came out. I have 8 libraries on 3 or 4 different drives and have had no problems. I suspect it’s essencially a GUI that does what this article suggests.

  4. bob says:

    Didn’t work for me. When I select the old library it claims that there’s no library file there.

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