How to Share Media with Your iPhone

One of the best features on the iPhone has always been Home Sharing, which lets you use your iPhone to stream music, movies, TV shows, and other media content from the iTunes library on your Mac or PC.

iOS 8 introduces a new kind of sharing called Family Sharing, which lets you share purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store with up to six people in your family without having to share account information. Now you can pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending right from your iPhone or iPad. Here’s the scoop on both types of sharing: Home and Family.

Home Sharing feature

Turn on Home Sharing to stream music, movies, TV shows, and other media from your computer to your iPhone. The big gotcha here is that Home Sharing is available only if your iPhone and your computer are on the same Wi-Fi network and use the same Apple ID.

To make Home Sharing work for you, first enable it on your computer, and then enable it on your iPhone. To set up Home Sharing on your computer, launch iTunes and then Choose File→Home Sharing→Turn on Home Sharing. Type your Apple ID and password in the appropriate fields and click the Turn On Home Sharing button.

From now on, as long as iTunes is open, your iTunes library will be available for Home Sharing on your Wi-Fi network.

To enable Home Sharing on your iPhone, open the Settings app and tap Music (or Videos). Scroll down to the Home Sharing section and type the same Apple ID and password you used on the computer, and then tap Return.

Now, tap the ellipsis (. . .) icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen and then tap Shared. A list of libraries with Home Sharing enabled appears. Tap the library you want to enable. After a while (a large library may take a while to load), a check mark appears next to the library’s name and the list disappears.

Here’s something cool: Tap one of the icons at the bottom of the screen. Rather than seeing only the playlists, artists, and songs you’ve synced with your iPhone, you’ll now see the playlists, artists, songs, albums, and everything else in the iTunes library on the Home Sharing computer as well. And you’ll continue to see the shared content as long as your iPhone remains connected to the Wi-Fi network.

To switch back to seeing just the music synced to your iPhone, reverse the process and disable Home Sharing in Settings→Music (or Settings→Video).

Movies and TV shows shared via Home Sharing don’t appear in the Music app.

Home Sharing is simple, elegant, and free. If you’ve never used this feature, what are you waiting for?

Family Sharing feature

New in iOS 8, Family Sharing lets up to six members of the same family share everything they buy at the iTunes, iBooks, and App Stores. It also provides sharing of family photos and a family calendar, location sharing, and more.

To set up Family Sharing, one adult in the household (known as the family organizer) invites up to five family members to join and agrees to pay for all iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases those family members initiate while part of Family Sharing.

When any family member buys an app, a song, an album, a movie, or an iBook, it is billed directly to the family organizer’s account. The item is then added to the purchaser’s account and shared with the rest of the family.

The organizer can turn on Ask to Buy for any family member to require approval for any purchase. When a purchase is initiated, a notification is sent to the family organizer, who can review the item and approve or decline the request from his or her iPhone.

The fine print says: You can be part of only one family group at a time and may switch to a different family group only twice per year. The features of Family Sharing may vary based on country and content eligibility.

Family Sharing requires iCloud, and works with the following software and operating systems: iOS 8, OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Find My Friends 3.0, Find My iPhone 3.1, and iCloud for Windows 4.0.

To become the family organizer, open Settings, tap iCloud, and then tap Set Up Family Sharing.

After you enable Family Sharing, all family members have immediate access to each other’s music, movies, TV shows, books, and apps, so you can download whatever you want with a tap anytime you like without anyone having to share an Apple ID or password.