iTunes Home Sharing

With iTunes v10 Apple introduced a new feature called Home Sharing.  This allows iTunes users to share their library with other apple devices on the same local network, for example your network at home.  Sounds good?  It is when it works, but it can be a nightmare to troubleshoot when it doesn't.
I recently purchased an Apple TV specifically for the purpose of playing my iTunes library through my TV and AV receiver.  Apple TVs are great, as well as doing that they also connect to the Internet so you can use Internet radio, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, and rent a wide range of new release and older movies.  However, I had a very frustrating Issue where I could see my iTunes library briefly, but clicking on it would cause it to disappear.  Reading the Apple forums shows a lot of people with Home Sharing issues and many possible solutions.  I started with the most drastic first, replacing my router with a different make and model which fixed the issue for some - but not me.

What fixed the issue for me was opening TCP port  3689 And UDP port 5353 in Windows Firewall on my PC.  Even though iTunes was set as an allowed program in my firewall, only by explicitly opening these ports as well did the library stay permanently.   These ports are listed in the Apple support article on Home Sharing troubleshooting.

Once this was sorted out I had a second issue.  I could see all of my music library on the Apple TV and play any song individually, but all the song names were dark and I couldn't play an album in total or shuffle. It was like the Apple TV thought they weren't available even though they played when chosen individually.
This was sorted out within iTunes itself.  If you use the check box (also called List box)  in iTunes, and use the "only sync checked items" option,  It seems the Apple TV thinks that only checked music is "live".  The fix is to untick all music, then in preferences turn off "show checklist box".  It's really more of a workaround for a bug than a fix as now I have turned off the checklist feature I need to manually manage music on my iPad as it isn't big enough to hold my entire itunes library.  Hopefully Apple will fix the way this is managed in a future release.

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