Previous 1 2 Next 27 Replies Latest reply: Feb 4, 2014 6:08 PM by scadarick1
MasonB Level 1 (0 points)

Apple's FAQ does not seem to provide good guidance on using Apple IDs in a home with multiple people, particularly with the launch of iCloud today. 


Here are the users/devices I have:

1) Me - iPhone 4 and iPad 2

2) Wife - iPhone 4 and iPad 2

3) Child1 - iPad 2

4) Child2 - iPad 2


To date, we have primarily used a single Apple ID for all store purchases (it isn't reasonable to think we would buy each app 4 times for example, and Apple's terms allow this kind of sharing in a household so it has been a good solution).  Here are my goals:


1) Make syncing new content as painless as possible, whether it is apps, music, books, or other. 

2) Allow each user of iBooks to read the same book and sync between their devices without messing up the page on other users' devices. 

3) Allow each user to have their own iCloud email/calendar/contacts. 

4) Allow sharing when desired between calendars and contacts. 

5) Allow us all to share one Photo Stream using iCloud. 


It does not seem like I am going to be able to meet all of these goals easily, particularly the last two.  In my current setup, my wife uses a separate Apple ID for iBooks only.  This allows us to meet the first two goals.  The kids don't really use iBooks yet, but when they do creating separate Apple IDs for them would be a possibility. 


For iCloud, it seems that we can either choose between 3 and 4, meaning that we can either all have separate IDs and separate mail/calendars/contacts, or we can all share.  If iCloud would allow multiple accounts per device, then we could have one shared account and each also have a separate account.  This would allow us to all put things on a shared calendar, but unfortunately we could not view each others' calendars for items not explicitly shared (sometimes my wife would like to determine if I am in a work meeting, for example).  Perhaps the best solution is to have a separate provider for email/calendar/contacts, then to keep one Apple ID for iCloud which will act as the shared calendar/contacts (and basically would then be pretty useless for email).  This would also enable 5 (one shared photo stream).  It is unfortunate that I am forced to choose between either using the full features of iCloud myself (e.g., for personal email/calendar/contacts) or having robust sharing between family members.  I may have it wrong though and I'm hoping others have found a better solution. 


Any suggestions are most welcome! 

iPhone 4, Other OS, iOS 5, iCloud
  • Beagler69 Level 1 (0 points)

    Please let me know if you find a solution. I'm having the same problem.

  • mcin9 Level 1 (0 points)

    I second Beagler69's plea for help. This can't be that hard to fix. However, with the recent fiasco of an inability to delete apps from purchase history and having them show up in that history on all devices, Apple is not building a good track record. I think they may be losing the focus on their core market. That market has switched from niche users and artsy types to entire family units with different demands, privacy issues and priveleges within that nucleus. Apple, for better or worse, has been mainstreamed.




    Please allow a modicum of flexibility for parents and individuals to fence off their IOS territory. Just because my family shares bathrooms, doesn't mean we enjoy it. I don't want to share every notification, calendar event or application with everyone else in the house. If I am wrong on this, then by all means enlighten us all.

  • deborahg2003 Level 1 (0 points)

    Me too! You would think that this would have been thought of! Please anyone? Any answers?

  • Vpyc Level 1 (0 points)

    I am in more or less the same situation and this is teh setup I am testing and exploring right now:


    - Create a family icloud account.

    - On each iMac/Macbook add a family user

    - On your iPhone you can actually add that account as a second one. Go in settings-> Mail, contact...-> Add

    - Then you can choose which part (email, calendar, contacts,...) you want to sync

    - It seems to work perfectly fine for calendar and contacts for example.

    - Still need to test it for reminders, bookmarks , notes and the Photo stream

  • Vpyc Level 1 (0 points)

    I have just found a technical article from Apple support explaining the procedure:




    You can use iCloud Mail, Notes, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders with multiple iCloud accounts on iOS 5 and OS X Lion.

    iCloud Bookmarks, Photo Stream, Documents in the Cloud, Backup (iOS), Back to My Mac (OS X), and Find My iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac can only be used with one iCloud account at a time (the "primary" account).


  • Sheryl Kingstone Level 3 (635 points)

    I am also jumping in.....I am confused. I don't know how to share photos, while also maintaining separate accounts for calendar, contacts etc. I want to be able to photostream photos from two iphones to the appletv, 2 ipads and one macbook.



  • MasonB Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm posting an update to my own post after a few days of working with this.  The Apple ID is used in many, many places, and I start by listing them all here to define the scope of the problem.  At the end, I detail how we are currently set up and what is working well after a few days of use. 


    • iBooks - keys off what is set for Settings->Store.  This affects book synchronization and must be different for two people reading the same book that each has more than one device (e.g., an iPad and iPhone) that they want to stay in sync.  This is one of the biggest problems in my house because we want to stay configured on the same "Store" account so that all purchases go through one account and are available to everyone, but we often read the same books and don't want one's reading to flip pages for the other when a sync of bookmarks occurs.  We also don't want to turn off syncing because we both have multiple devices and we want syncing to happen between our individual iPhones and iPads. 


    • FaceTime - set in Settings->FaceTime.  Typically each user will want to get FaceTime calls at a separate "address".  You have two choices.  You can use the same Apple ID and configure FaceTime to respond at different email addresses, or you can use separate Apple IDs and there is no conflict at all.  For an iPhone you will already have separate phone numbers, but for an iPad people will use an email address to FaceTime with you, so the email addresses you use have to be different. 



    • iMessage - set in Settings->Messages.  This is almost identical to FaceTime.  You have to provide an Apple ID, but you can distinguish different users based on email addresses. 


    • App Store - set in Settings->Store.  The Apple ID used here is what is used for purchases.  This applies not just to purchases when you're in the App Store application, but also any in-app purchases, any bookstore purchases via the "Store" button in iBooks, any purchases in the iTunes app, and purchases from the "Store" button in Newsstand. 


    • iCloud - set in Settings->iCloud.  Defines one fixed set of storage, mailbox, calendar, contacts, and Find My iPhone.  I'm going to split this up and talk about each area separately below.  The main choice here is whether two people should share an iCloud account or should have individual ones.  In addition, some people have proposed creating a third "family" iCloud account for sharing some information.  Much of what could be done with a family account could be done by adding each person's individual iCloud account to all devices, so I don't treat that separately here.  In addition to the reasons below, one good reason for having separate iCloud IDs is that you each get 5GB of free storage. 


    1. Mail - I don't know anyone that wants to share mail in a household, so this probably isn't a big problem and using separate Apple IDs is probably acceptable here.  For someone that wants to share this much, they would probably just all use one Apple ID anyway. 
    2. Calendar - iCloud actually has calendar sharing, it's just only available on the web as far as I have found.  If you log in to your account at, go to the Calendar, and click one of the little icons on each calendar's name, you can share that calendar.  My wife and I have decided to make her calendar the "main" one, and she shares it to me for viewing and editing.  I can then view it on my iPhone and iPad even though I used my own Apple ID to configure iCloud.  When I go to the Calendar App and select the Calendars button in the upper left, her shared calendar is listed with "Shared by <wife's name>" under it.  Pretty slick. 
    3. Contacts - I wish iCloud allowed sharing contacts in the exact same way it shares calendars, but so far as I know it doesn't yet.  The best solution for now seems to be to add my wife's iCloud account as a secondary iCloud account on my devices, and turn off everything except Contacts.  There may be some downsides to this as secondary iCloud accounts on a device do not use push notifications.  This may mean that contacts only get updated when I open them individually or open the Contacts app, for example, this needs further verification.  We've just decided to not share contacts for the time being. 
    4. Find My iPhone/iPad - If two related people have separate accounts for this, then they cannot see all of their devices in one place in Find My Phone.  They can know both Apple IDs and passwords and log into Find My Phone with the appropriate set of credentials to see a particular device.  For example, if I want to find my iPhone or iPad I log in with my Apple ID, and if I want to find my wife's iPhone or iPad, I log in with her ID.  I have found the Find My Friends app to be a good replacement for this, but it is a different feature in that it follows a "person" and not a "device".  My wife configures whether her friends are following her iPhone or her iPad, and whereas Find My Phone can find her with either, Find My Friends requires that she be carrying the right device to be useful.  She almost always has her phone, so this is a satisfactory switch.  This may have other disadvantages though.  For example, if she ever hides her location in Find My Friends from her other friends (this is a switch you can turn on and off when you want privacy), she will also prevent me from finding her.  That may be her intent :), but Find My Phone wouldn't ever allow that.  We have found that Find My Phone avoids a lot of the "are you almost home" calls to each other.  Find My Friends looks like it will offer a lot more features and be better for that rather than misusing Find My Phone the way we were before. 
    5. Photo Stream - I currently have no good solution for photo stream.  From Apple's support documents it appears that the secondary iCloud account solution would not work, but I have not tried it.  For now I simply am not using it.  I sync all of our photos to a PC, then back out to each device once a week.  The PC also uses home sharing through iTunes to share with an Apple Tv.  I would still have to do this anyway as Photo Stream is only for storing your last 1,000 photos and as such isn't very useful to me (we have over 12,000 photos since my kids were born 4 years ago). 
    6. Other Cloud Data - iCloud is storing a lot of other data, like bookmarks, that two people may or may not want to share.  In my case, my wife and I visit pretty different websites, so we don't want to share bookmarks.  We also don't want to share Notes or Reminders, so this works out good.  If we did want to share these, then adding a secondary iCloud account would probably be the best solution. 


    Apple could do a few things that would almost completely alleviate my current problems.  First, allow specifying a separate ID in iBooks for the purpose of page/bookmark syncing.  I may want my wife and me to purchase books on the same account, but I want to separate our syncing of bookmarks.  Second, if iCloud Contacts had a sharing feature just like iCloud calendars do, we would be in good shape with contacts.  We have a very similar set of contacts, and we have no desire to maintain them separately.  Third, allow inviting others to a Photo Stream much like Find My Friends.  Then our whole family could share one Photo Stream. 


    So in the end this is how we have our devices configured:


    1) We each have a separate iCloud account (i.e., we use our individual Apple IDs for this), and only one iCloud account is configured for each device.  This means that we each get our own mail, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, and Find My Phone.  My wife shares her calendar to me so that shows up in my iCloud account (you can do this from the web on  The only downside I have noticed is that we do not currently share contacts in any way and we would like to, but we could do this by one of us adding the other's iCloud account as a secondary account on our devices.  For some reason I just don't like that solution and am avoiding the secondary account.  We also do not use Photo Stream yet. 


    2) We share one Apple ID for all purchases.  This is okay most of the time, but is a pain for iBooks as noted above.  What often happens is my wife signs out of my Apple ID and logs into her own if she will be using iBooks, but then she has to switch back again whenever she makes any purchases (including in-app purchases). 


    3) For FaceTime and iMessage we happen to use separate Apple IDs, but it is the email addresses that matter so this isn't significant as far as I can tell.  For a household sharing an email address, you might prefer separate Apple IDs for this. 


    4) My kids do not yet use email or any of the iCloud features other than Find My iPhone (which really I use on their behalf in case their devices get lost).  So for now iCloud for them uses my Apple ID just for Find My Phone, and the other services are disabled.  We have their restrictions (under Settings->General->Restrictions) locked down so they do not have access to Safari, the App Store, iTunes, or FaceTime.  Thus, they don't have any bookmarks to sync or other services to configure.  The biggest pain point for them will be when they start reading more (they are currently 2 and 4) if iBooks continues to leverage the App Store account for bookmark syncing.  Even then it will only be a problem if we all read the same book at the same time, which is less likely than it is between my wife and me.  Once they are old enough for their own email we should be able to repeat the above to give them their own iCloud accounts.  We will then all likely share mom's calendar for family events (perhaps in addition to individual calendars), and we will all add each other in Find My Friends. 

  • americaneon Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you for posting this! I have two kids , 10 &amp; 8, and want t o track them in find my friends and FaceTime, but, havent been able to do it, will try giving them an iCloud email, was currently trying w their gmail, and couldn't get it to work?! Hopefully this will help! Also my iphone 3GS is not restoring from the update, so currently working on that. I have the iPad 2 and my kids both have the iPod Touch, if that matters!

  • boysmom Level 1 (0 points)

    There's another related problem almost nobody seems to talk about.  Kids grow up.  And when they do, you want them to pay for their own iTunes, etc!  My younger son still uses my iTunes apple ID, but a couple years ago, my older one made a new one with a new ID as soon as he was able to have his own credit card.  That means he has TWO iTunes ID's, that together, with combined purchases, make up his music library.


    Pre-iOS5 it has not been an issue.  His computer is authorized to play songs from both accounts.  But what about when he goes to iOS5 and Lion and iCloud?  He will no longer be able to have his library all together in one place. This means burning thousands of songs, losing the name of the artist/song, in the process, or... I don't know what.


    Sooner or later, I want my younger son to have his own credit card and buy HIS own songs/apps.  But the only way his entire library can be together in the cloud is if I keep paying for them on MY account.


    Please make a fix for this, Apple. Let us have a family account and associated family member accounts that allow for kids growing up!

  • rebelspy72 Level 1 (0 points)

    Same issue here with iBooks bookmarks sync, they should be tied to the iCloud account and not to the iTunes account, that way each member of the family can be reading the same book with their own bookmarks.


    Right now is a real pain to do this as if somebody accidentally bookmark a page it will do it for the whole household, if bookmark sync was tied to the personal iCloud account like calendars, reminders, notes and regular bookmarks we never have to experience this issue.


    1) Me - iPhone 4s and iPad 2

    2) Wife - iPhone 4s and iPad 2

    3) Child - iPad - iPod touch



    Everything is working good for purchases with a shared iTunes account for music, movies, books,etc but there is no control on what people see and as other user mentioned above we should be able to have our boys with allowance cards where they can buy their own games and apps and the software should not be downloaded automatically on each device.


    I do not want my child to see apps not suitable for him or books.movies, etc and he can easily go to past purchases and see this or download from app store, I know there is a parental setting for ratings but we should have a master account that control all other family members accounts and set the permissions.

  • Level 1 (0 points)

    Sheryl - have you found a solution for two iPhones to send pics to the same photostream? I have synced calendars and contacts between my wife's iPhone 4 and my iPhone 3GS but can't seem to have the two phones (separate iCloud accounts) photostream to the same place.

  • Sheryl Kingstone Level 3 (635 points)

    Nope. The best solution will be if apple allows us to subscribe to photo streams. Eventually they will figure it out.

  • j.pak Level 1 (0 points)

    awesome mason,

    just doing research trying to figure this mess out.

    you've helped at in getting on the right foot.


    me. iphone

    wife. iphone

    son. ipod touch

    daughter. ipod touch

    family. ipad, imac (all with seperate user accounts)



  • tntoofore Level 1 (5 points)

    Appreciate your efforts! Will have to study your report further. Remaining questions include: How to place different apps on different devices; different pictures from Iphoto as well as keep same image sequence within albums as has been manually set up in Iphoto on Mac; different music, different Itunes U downloads, etc. I assume books through Kindle app will continue to work the same? Wife and I use Pod/Pad for different reasons, needs, etc, and don't want to lose the flexibilityof having the devices set up differently, yet be able to share items when we wish. Have delayed upgrading Itunes and Pod/Pad trying to figure out how this is all going to work.

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