Sync music and other files between Mac and PC

It’s been about a month or more now since I have owned my first Mac (Mac mini). I upgraded it with 2 Gigs of RAM which made it a lot faster. I also installed bootcamp with Windows XP and it works perfectly. The biggest problem for me was synchronizing my music library and pictures, so I can have them on the mac. I don’t really use my mac that much so I only wanted those files there so I can play around with iLife tools (iPhoto and iTunes)… <complain>Why does iTunes work so much better on the mac than on Vista?</complain> I have been using FolderShare for years now to sync my laptop, desktop and media center. I was ecstatic to learn that they have a mac version. I installed it and set it up and voila, my files started syncing. There is one limitation in FolderShare (10000 files per folder) that made me break my library into 2. My files were synced but I had another problem. About 70% of my music files were in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format which doesn’t play well with Apple software and strangely the iTunes for windows will convert WMA (DRM-free only) but mac’s version doesn’t. The other problem is about 20% of those files had DRM. To convert my WMA files to MP3, I:

  1. Searched and downloaded FairUse4WM which strips out DRM from WMA files; but only if you have the license for those files.
  2. Ran it and it was surprisingly fast and easy to use and it freed all my music files – I think only 5 or so files failed out of 1000+ files – not bad.
  3. Then used iTunes in windows to convert my files to MP3

That’s it. I synced the MP3 library between Mac and PC and that was it… Note, that I didn’t have to do that and I could have just used iTunes’ built-in network sharing to access my library over the network – which might be all you need if all you want to do is just listen to your music. Syncing pictures was simple, since JPEG is open format and works on both systems without any modifications. I like windows vista’s Photo Gallery better than iPhoto because it stores the tags in the files and not in some proprietary database. This way the tags travel with the file and show up on both systems. iPhoto looks better (as most mac software) but Vista’s Photo Gallery is more intuitive. Even better you should take a look at Google’s Picasa (windows only) – but tagging is still better in vista’s photo gallery.