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How to stream content from your iTunes library to the Apple TV

Kirk McElhearn | Nov. 16, 2015
The secret lies in the Computers tile on the Apple TV home screen.

atv select library
If you have more than one library available, you can select one here. If not, you’ll go straight to the content type list, as in the screenshot below.

Select a library, and you’ll then see the types of content available:

atv browse library
Browse the different types of content in your shared library.

Drill down through your music and videos, and choose what to play. If you don’t have all of these media kinds in your iTunes library, the Apple TV will only display those available, though my MacBook’s library shows a listing for Home Videos, even though I don’t have any on that device.

One good thing about Home Sharing is its ability to access multiple devices. For example, you may have your music library on the computer you use regularly, but store your videos on a dedicated device, such as a Mac mini. If so, you can select either device from the Apple TV and access its content. In fact, if you’re running out of storage on your Mac and have another older Mac, it would be useful to convert it to a media server. Set up iTunes on the old Mac, perhaps add an external hard drive, and add, say, all your videos to that iTunes library. Since videos take up so much space, you could still have room on your main Mac for your music.

Home Sharing has not been without problems over the years. Sometimes the Apple TV can no longer see your iTunes library. I’ve had to do one or more of the following at different times to get Home Sharing to work again (though Apple may have improved Home Sharing for the new device):

  • Quit and relaunch iTunes on my Mac.
  • Restart my Apple TV.
  • Sign out of Home Sharing on my Mac or Apple TV, then sign in again.
  • Restart my router.

You may also need to tweak your computer’s security settings. Home Sharing uses TCP port 3689 and UDP port 5342, and if you have a firewall on your computer, you’ll need to make sure these ports are open. An Apple support document explains what you need to do.

While the Apple TV is great for getting content from Apple’s cloud, it also lets you use the music and videos in your iTunes library. Use Home Sharing to access all your stuff, and enjoy your movies, TV shows, and music on your TV set.

 

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