Centralized administration of Live in a multi-user environment (without Sassafras)

  • Live Versions: Live 9.1 and above
  • Operating System: All

(Note: if you need help installing Live in a multi-user lab that uses Sassafras, please see this article.)

1. Installation Guide

1.1 Download

To get started with Live, it is recommended to download and install the latest available Live 9 update.

Log in to your User Account, then select the Live version and the operating system from the drop down menus.

Disclaimer: The latest version of Live 9 is not compatible with legacy systems like Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Mac OS X 10.6. The last version supported on those systems is Live 9.1.10. Installers of Live 9.1.10 can be donwloaded from the Download Archive.

1.2 Installation

1.2.1 Mac

When the download of the Live 9 dmg is complete, double-click on that file and a mounted disk named 'Ableton Live 9' will appear on your desktop and open automatically.


As shown, drag the application Ableton Live 9 in the Applications folder at the root of your Mac OS X drive. After this, you can unmount the dmg file by pressing the eject button in the Finder sidebar.


Once the disk image has been unmounted you can drag the dmg file to the trash.

To launch Live 9, open the Applications folder and click twice on the Ableton Live 9 application. You can also drag the application icon to your dock in order to add a shortcut for Live 9.

1.2.2 Windows

Please unpack the downloaded zip file by right-clicking on it.


Choose "Extract All..." from the drop down menu and launch the Setup.msi file by double clicking it once the file has been unpacked. The program will guide you through the steps necessary to install Live 9 on your Windows machine.

Once the installation has completed, click on the Windows Start menu where you'll find the Live 9 shortcut.

2. Authorization

2.1 Single User Authorization

To authorize Live for a single user, please follow the instructions in this general article about Authorizing Live 9.

2.2 Multi User Authorization

2.2.1 Per machine unlocking
  • First of all, please follow the instructions under 2.1 to authorize Live on an admin user account.
  • After quitting, Live's Unlock.cfg file needs to be copied from Live's Unlock folder to a specific shared location so all users on the machine have reading permission; Live will automatically look for unlock information there.
    • Live's Unlock file location:
      • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Users/[Username]/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live 9.x.x/Unlock/Unlock.cfg
      • Windows Vista and Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live 9.x.x\Unlock\Unlock.cfg
      • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\[Username]\Application Data\Ableton\Live 9.x.x\Unlock\Unlock.cfg
    • Note: The locations above might be hidden. This article explains how to access hidden folders on Windows and Mac OS X.
    • Note: The x's in the folder paths mentioned above, e.g. Live 9.x.x are placeholders. On your system, the name of the Live folder will reflect the installed Live version, e.g. Live 9.6.1.
    • Shared Unlock file location:
      • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live 9.x.x/Unlock/
      • Windows Vista and Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\ProgramData\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live 9.x.x\Unlock\
      • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live 9.x.x\Unlock\
    • Note: The shared Ableton folders don't exist by default. Please create them manually before copying Live's Unlock file or other setting files.
    • Note: Replace “Live 9.x.x” with the name of the version you're installing (e.g. Live 9.6.1).
  • Note: Users must not (re)authorize.
2.2.2 Master Unlock File

The fact that authorization information stored in the file “Unlock.cfg” is different for every client machine makes it difficult to routinely wipe client machines and restore from a central place (e.g. using a disk image).

Create one unlock file that will work on all clients: By copying the file “Unlock.cfg” from client to client prior to authorizing a new client, the authorization information will be added to the same file. After all clients have been authorized once always using the same “Unlock.cfg”, this single file will contain valid response codes for all machines. Consequently, the resulting “master” unlock file can be used on all clients, i.e. it can be distributed to the client machines from a central place.

If you keep a copy of this file, you can wipe and re-install client machines without having to request more unlocks or repeat the process of unlocking on every single machine.

2.2.3 Further Settings

In a single-user setup Live copies its unlock information automatically to the updated version, while in a multi-user setup, the copy process needs to be done manually. For this reason it's recommended to disable Live's auto-update feature in a multi-user setup. To do so, please create a plain text file. Next add the line "-_DisableAutoUpdates" without quotes to the file. Finally, save the file with the file name "Options.txt" and drop it into Live's shared Preferences folder.

  • Live's shared Preferences folder:
    • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD:/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live 9.x.x/
    • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\ProgramData\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live 9.x.x\Preferences\
    • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live 9.x.x\Preferences\
  • Note: The shared Ableton folders don't exist by default. They need to be created manually.
  • Note: Replace “Live 9.x.x” with the name of the version you're installing (e.g. Live 9.6.1).
2.2.4 Key-Server and floating linceses

Larger labs will benefit from the integration of the third party key-server solution Sassafras in Live, which allows an easier license management and floating licenses. Please refer to the following article on how to set up Live with Sassafras.

3. Content

Live's Library consists of the Core Library, Live Packs, and a User Library, located in separate locations.

Live Packs can often be large in filesize, and should exist only once on a single machine, and not be included in the roaming profile. The “Core Library” which is part of Live's installation, is installed in the same location as the program. All other factory packs can be installed in any location.

User content is stored in “User folders”, which can be configured by the user. There's one special user folder, the “User Library” which should always exist.

3.1 Adding Factory Packs:

•Install Live on the client machine (or, if you are creating an image, on the machine to be cloned) and start it. On machines with Rewire configurations, you may see a prompt to enter an admin password at this point.

•In Live's Preferences -> Library Tab, set the installation folder for Packs to a shared, non-roaming location. Then install your Factory Packs.

•If you want to use Max for Live, make sure to have the latest version of Max installed. To use Max for Live on Mac OS X, open any Max Instrument or Effect by double clicking it from the Live 9 browser. This will avoid users being asked for an admin password when they use Max for Live. 

•Quit Live and make the configured Factory Packs folder read-only, so users can't install or uninstall packs.

3.2 Adapt the User Library location to work for all users:

•Move the Library.cfg (found in the user preferences) to the shared preferences folder. This way, information about the packs you just installed will automatically be available to all users.

•Open Live, and define the user library folder in Live's preferences, Library.

•Open the Library.cfg in a plain text editor, look for the <UserLibrary> tag and add the placeholder “%%USERNAME%%” as shown below. The directory containing the user specific folders must be readable and writable for all users, other- wise no subfolders for non-admin users can be created.

3.3 Example:

<ProjectLocation />
<ProjectName Value=”User Library” />
<DisplayName Value=”C:\Users\admin\Documents\Ableton\User Library”/>
<ProjectPath Value=”C:\Users\%%USERNAME%%\Documents\Ableton\” />

If the specified folder doesn't exist yet, it will be created when a user runs Live for the first time. 

4. Cache / Database

Live keeps user specific information in default locations (see Appendix), e.g. the central Live database, caches and the temp folder for unsaved recordings. It is strongly recommended setting all of these to non-roaming/non-network locations.

The database especially should never be located in a network location, since this may influence performance drastically or even lead to database corruption.

Add the following lines to Options.txt in the shared preferences

-DefaultsBaseFolder=<folder for “Live recordings” and “Sample Cache”>
-DatabaseDirectory=<folder for Live's database “files.db”>

Note: These folders must be created per user. To achieve this, use the placeholder “%%USERNAME%%”. The directory containing the user specific folders must be readable and writable, otherwise no subfolders for non-admin users can be created.

4.1 Example:


5. Other

5.1 Live as ReWire slave

When you run Live, files are created so you can use it with ReWire. Live installs its ReWire files to the following locations:

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Propellerhead Software/ReWire/ and
    Macintosh HD/Users/[Username]/Library/Application Support/Propellerhead Software/ReWire/
  • Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Propellerhead Software\ReWire\

Both require admin rights.

Note: Only the last installed version of Live can be used as a ReWire slave. If you have several versions of Live installed on your system (e.g. Live 8 and 9, or Intro and Suite), the user will be prompted with a dialog requesting admin's password during startup whenever a different version is started. To disable this prompt, add “-DontAskForAdminRights” to the Options.txt in the shared preferences.

6. Appendix

6.1 Locations

Example of file locations for user “alex” and Live 9.6.1.

Mac OS X

Shared preferences location:

Macintosh HD:/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live 9.6.1/

User locations:

Macintosh HD:/Users/alex/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live 9.6.1/
(Library.cfg, Options.txt, Log. txt)

Macintosh HD:/Users/alex/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live 9.6.1/Database/
(files.db, files.db-wal, files.db-shm)

Macintosh HD:/Users/alex/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live Reports/
(location for event recordings and crash packs)

Macintosh HD:/Users/alex/Music/Ableton/Live Recordings/
(default location for ad hoc recordings)

Macintosh HD:/Users/alex/Library/Caches/Ableton/Cache/
(default location for the mp3 decoding cache)

Windows Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8 / Windows 10

Shared preferences location:

C:\ProgramData\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live 9.6.1\Preferences\
(Library.cfg, Options.txt)

User locations:

C:\Users\alex\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live 9.6.1\
... \Preferences\ (Library.cfg, Options.txt, Log.txt)
... \Database (files.db, files.db-wal, files.db-shm)

... \Live Reports\ (location for event recordings and crash packs)
... \Cache\ (default location for the mp3 decoding cache)

C:\Users\alex\My Documents\Ableton\
... \Live Recordings\ (default location for ad hoc recordings) 

Windows XP

Shared preferences location:

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live 9.6.1\Preferences\
(Preferences.cfg, Library.cfg, Log.txt)

User locations:

C:\Documents and Settings\alex\Application Data\Ableton\Live 9.6.1\
... \Preferences\ (Library.cfg, Options.txt)
... \Database\ (files.db)

C:\Documents and Settings\alex\Application Data\Ableton\
...\Live Reports\ (location for event recordings and crash packs)
...\Cache\ (default location for the mp3 decoding cache)

C:\Documents and Settings\alex\My Documents\Ableton\Live Recordings\
(default location for ad hoc recordings)

6.2 Example Options.txt


Learn more about the Options.txt file for Live.