Home Sharing Lets You Access Media on Your Mac from Other Local Apple Devices – IT Support in Los Angeles

In the heyday of iTunes, Apple users stored their music, movies, and TV shows on their Macs and shared them with other Macs in their homes, as well as their iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. Of late, however, streaming has become Apple’s preferred media consumption approach, thanks to the rise of Apple Music and the way the Apple TV app aggregates video streaming services like Netflix.

Nevertheless, even though iTunes has been replaced by the Music and TV apps on the Mac, it’s still possible to maintain your libraries of music and videos on your Mac. When you do that, sharing that media with your other Apple devices over your local Wi-Fi network continues to work through Home Sharing, but how you manage that technology has changed. To be clear, we’re talking about content stored in the Media folders specified in the Music and TV apps’ preferences—they may still point to an old iTunes Media folder.

One note first. We’re focusing on network sharing here, not syncing media to an iPhone or iPad. That’s possible too, but is a separate topic—for more details, check out Take Control of macOS Media Apps, by Kirk McElhearn.

Set Up Home Sharing on Your Mac

With the demise of iTunes, Apple has moved the Home Sharing controls to the Sharing pane of System Preferences. Follow these steps to enable it:

  1. Open System Preferences > Sharing > Media Sharing.
  2. Give your library a recognizable name.
  3. Select the checkbox for Home Sharing.
  4. Enter your Apple ID credentials. You’ll need to use this same Apple ID for every computer or device on your Home Sharing network. (There is also a guest option that  others in your household can use; see below.)
  5. Click Turn On Home Sharing.

Home Sharing provides three options via checkboxes:

  • Devices update play counts: Select this option if you want each play from one of your devices to update the play count in your Home Sharing library.
  • Share photos with Apple TV: This option lets you share photos from your Photos library—either everything or just selected albums, with an option to include videos. You can also share photos from your Pictures folder, any folder inside it, or any folder at all.
  • Share media with guests: Normally, you can access media using Home Sharing only from devices signed in with your Apple ID. With this option, however, you can allow guests to access your songs, movies, and TV shows. If you live in an apartment or other situation where people unknown to you can see your Wi-Fi network, it’s a good idea to require a password, and regardless, you can share just selected playlists if you want. Guests access Home Sharing media just like you do.

Access Media from a Mac

The process of accessing media from another Mac using Home Sharing is the same for music and video—the only difference is that you use the Music app for music and the TV app for video. In either, click Library in the sidebar and choose your shared library under Public Sharing. Library changes to the name of your shared library, and all the items underneath display its contents. You’ll interact with them just like any local or streamed media.

Access Media from an iPhone or iPad

As on the Mac, the trick on the iPhone or iPad is simply to use the correct app. For instance, to access your videos, open the TV app, tap Library ➊ at the bottom, and tap the name of your Home Sharing library ➋ above. You’ll then need to tap to select the type of content you want to view, and then you’ll see thumbnails for the actual videos. Tap one to play it.

Access Media and Photos from an Apple TV

Finding Home Sharing media is a little different on the Apple TV. Open the Computers app, select your library, and then choose from music, photos, or videos at the top. A sidebar at the right lets you drill down into your content.

You can also have the Apple TV play a randomized slideshow of your photos as its screen saver. Go to Settings > General > Screen Saver > Type > Home Sharing > Photos, and select either Photos to show all available photos or Albums to limit the selection. In the Screen Saver preferences, you can also set a preferred transition.

We won’t pretend that Home Sharing is the latest and greatest technology from Apple—it’s definitely yesteryear’s solution—but if you have a lot of music and video on your Mac, it’s a good way to share it throughout your house and get a personalized screen saver on your Apple TV.

(Featured image based on an original by Erik Mclean from Pexels)


Pinch to Zoom in All Photos View in iOS 14 – IT Consultants in Los Angeles

Photos in iOS 14 provides four views of your library: Years, Months, Days, and All Photos. For the first three, Photos picks representative images that may not include particular shots you’re looking for. The All Photos view shows everything, but it can be overwhelming. What’s not apparent is that you can navigate All Photos more easily by pinching in to shrink the thumbnails and then pinching out to make them larger again. At the largest size, a single photo takes up the entire width of the screen.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Stop Snoops with Private Browsing and by Clearing Your Web Browsing History: IT Services in Los Angeles

With so many of us working at home these days, it’s worth remembering that spouses, children, and housemates may have easy physical access to your Mac. And, particularly if you share a Mac with them, you might want to consider how you protect your browsing privacy. Even if you wouldn’t be embarrassed if your spouse were to see what sites you visited, you might not want a nosy pre-teen or housemate’s snoopy friend scrolling through your browser history. Or you may just want to keep research into someone’s birthday present a secret.

All major Web browsers provide two features to help you protect your privacy from people who can access your Mac: private browsing and clearing your browsing history.

After you invoke private browsing, the browser doesn’t store the URLs of visited pages in your browsing history. This makes it so others can’t go back through to see where you’ve been. Private browsing also avoids recording your searches so they don’t pop up for future search suggestions, doesn’t store the names of downloaded files, and more—the specifics vary a little by browser. In short, if you ever anticipate visiting a website that you wouldn’t want someone else with access to your Mac to know you had visited or don’t want to be embarrassed by a search suggestion when someone is peering over your shoulder, use private browsing.

What if you forget, or realize only after you’re done that your browsing history might reveal something you’d prefer stayed private? In that case, you’ll want to clear your browsing history, a feature that all browsers provide.

You should keep two important facts in mind when using these features:

  • Both of these features are focused on reducing privacy worries related to someone accessing your Mac. They do not, for the most part, keep your activities private from your ISP, the organizations whose websites you access, or advertisers (through ad trackers).
  • Neither of these features is meant to protect state secrets, sensitive journalistic research, or important business plans. If you’re interested in that level of security, contact us for personalized advice about what apps and devices to use.

Invoke Private Browsing

The hardest part of invoking private browsing is merely remembering to do so. In Safari, Firefox, and Brave, simply choose File > New Private Window to get a new browser window with private browsing enabled. Slightly different are Google Chrome, where you choose File > New Incognito Window, and Microsoft Edge, where the command is File > New InPrivate Window.

In all cases, the browser alerts you that you’ve enabled private browsing, are in a private window, or have gone incognito. Safari is the most subtle (top left, below), whereas Firefox (bottom left, below), and Chrome (right, below) make it painfully obvious and provide links to additional information about precisely what is protected and what’s not.

Additional tabs you create in that private browsing window are also private, so you don’t have to keep making new windows as you browse, although there’s no problem with opening multiple private windows at once. The main annoyance of using private browsing is that websites won’t recognize you or know you’re logged in.

To leave private browsing, simply close that window.

Clear Browsing History

How you clear browsing history varies by browser. Although they all let you choose how far back to go, only some give you choices about what type of data to clear.

  • Safari: In Safari, choose History > Clear History. A pop-up menu lets you clear your history from the last hour, today, today and yesterday, or all time. Happily, Safari also clears your history from other devices signed into your iCloud account.
  • Firefox: In Firefox, choose History > Clear Recent History and select the information to remove. You can clear data from the last hour, two hours, four hours, within the last day, or everything.
  • Google Chrome: With Chrome, choose Chrome > Clear Browsing Data. You can switch between two modes: Basic and Advanced, the latter of which gives you more control over exactly what you’re removing. Chrome provides the most flexible time periods from which to remove data: the last hour, the last 24 hours, the last 7 days, the 4 weeks, or all time.

The history clearing interfaces in Brave and Microsoft Edge are similar to Chrome since those browsers are based on the same underpinnings. However, both add an On Exit mode that removes the specified types of data every time you quit. Firefox also offers the option to clear cookies and site data every time you quit, but remember that doing so will sign you out of all websites.

In the end, don’t get too caught up in a Spy vs. Spy scenario with your browsing history. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your birthday present research private or working to avoid an embarrassing situation with a search suggestion, but it’s better to have and build trusting relationships than to worry constantly about someone discovering what you’re doing.

(Featured image by Robinraj Premchand from Pixabay)