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Question: Family Sharing Device Limit

I am desperate for a definitive answer on this topic. I've called Apple and I can't get a firm answer from the people on the other end, they are literally reading from the same support articles that are causing my confusion in the first place.


I had an Apple ID since they were first available. When iCloud ID's came along, I created a different iCloud ID instead of reusing my Apple ID. So, for some time, I have an iCloud ID that I use for services (messages, drive, FaceTime, backup, etc) and an Apple ID that I use for purchases.


As my family because Apple users, I gave them each their own iCloud ID so their services are kept separate but they use my Apple ID as the "store ID" so that we are sharing purchases. Nothing wrong here, Apple even explains how to do this in a s support article. Unfortunately, like many of you, we hit the 10 device limit for the store ID which causes all kinds of problems.


When Family Sharing came out, I assumed this would correct the problem by pushing the 10 device limit out to each user. So, for instance, right now my family of 4 has a limit of 10 devices across everyone, whereas I thought Family Sharing would push the limit out to 10 devices each, so theoretically, if we all maxed out our devices, 40 devices could be buying off of the same account organizer iCloud account.


So, we come to this statement in the Apple Support Article about Family Sharing:

"Family Sharing requires a personal Apple ID signed in to iCloud and iTunes 12. Music, movies, TV shows, and books can be downloaded on up to 10 devices per account, five of which can be computers."


I've been trying to clarify with Apple, and can't, what they mean by this. I read it as "per account" or "per user" since it says "10 devices per account." Two Apple people have said no, it's per family share. "Per account" and "per family share" are two extremely different things and the article should be updated and clarified if that is the case. And it's hard to even believe them since they sound like they are guessing at their answer and again, their only source of info seems to be this knowledge article and the statement highlighted above. They are literally guessing at the answer.


It makes no sense to me that Apple would allow a family of 6 to share purchases and limit the family to 10 devices. Heck, if each person had an iPhone and an iPad, they'd exceed the limit.


So, I'm looking for anyone who has actually set up FS and can confirm these limits. Not looking for more speculation please. Someone who has actually setup family sharing, has lots of devices, and can confirm if it's 10 per family share or 10 per user on the share.


Thanks!

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Jul 15, 2016 8:31 AM in response to Atlantax In response to Atlantax

Firstly, there is no such thing as an iCloud ID, iCloud is a service which you use in conjunction with your Apple ID.


Secondly nothing has changed, you can have 10 devices associated with an Apple ID, if you use 3 Apple ID's on one device it will count as one device against each of those 3 Apple ID's, I'm not sure why Apple couldn't explain this to you, it seems fairly straight forward to me.

Jul 15, 2016 8:31 AM

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Jul 15, 2016 8:56 AM in response to Winston Churchill In response to Winston Churchill

Thanks, simply using the terms iCloud ID vs Apple ID to help differentiate I'm using one solely for services and one for purchases. Second, I don't think you understood the situation. I never said I was using multiple (3 in your example) Apple ID's on one device. Each person has their own Apple ID and each person has their own devices. They each log into their personal iCloud account via THEIR Apple ID and they log into the iTunes/App Store with the Apple ID I use for purchases. This is how MANY people did this prior to family sharing being introduced and it's well documented by Apple on how to do this on their website. In this case however, Apple sees more than 10 devices purchasing off of one ID. If we go to family sharing, the setup would change. Each user would now enter their Apple ID into both the iCloud login and the store login on their devices, and Family Share would tell Apple to put their purchases against my Apple ID. By apple stating that you can have 10 devices per Apple ID, it's not clear if they are talking about the individual users Apple ID which would be on each of their devices, or the family share organizers Apple ID which would present the same challenge of exceeding 10 devices. It seems crazy that apple would limit a family to 10 devices especially since they allow 6 people on the family share.

Jul 15, 2016 8:56 AM

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Jul 15, 2016 9:17 AM in response to Atlantax In response to Atlantax

There is no such thing as any iCloud ID, so if you decide to use it what should I decide it means. Contacts and calendars etc are associated with iCloud, purchases of music and movies etc are associated with iTunes and purchase of books is associated with iBooks, you use your Apple ID to sign into each of these services (and others).


It's iTunes that is related to the 10 associated devices, if you enable Family sharing on any device its uses up an association for the iTunes account that uses the Apple ID used on that device, it doesn't use use up an association related to the iTunes accounts associated with the Apple ID's of the other family members.


it's all quite simple really.

Jul 15, 2016 9:17 AM

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Jul 8, 2017 7:34 AM in response to Winston Churchill In response to Winston Churchill

Your last sentence is funny. I still don't think you understand the OP's question. And you clearly don't understand what many of us long term Apple customers deal with in terms of iCloud IDs vs. iTunes ID. Yes, they are both Apple IDs. iTunes was launched BEFORE iCloud. Apple has never come up with a way to merge IDs.


The 10 device limit is silly. You are losing business over this whether your realize this or not. Example: my daughter wanted to rent a movie today on a brand new iPad mini. She couldn't because we are at our 10 device limit as a family. Half of the devices on the list of 10 we don't even own anymore (they have been replaced). No way to remove because of some other weird restriction. Anyway, no solution so my daughter rented a movie from Amazon video. Not the first time this has happened.


It is really a shame. I think your team there is overly obsessed with the .5% of customers who are trying to game the system somehow. Most of us just want to buy more apple devices and spend more money with you....


I would think Apple would want to support that.

Jul 8, 2017 7:34 AM

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Jul 10, 2017 8:18 PM in response to jlt0812 In response to jlt0812

You CAN disassociate a device from your Apple ID, on your computer, by going to "preferences", "iCloud", "Account Details", "Devices", the select the device and select "Remove from Account". You can get access to family purchases through "iTunes", "Account", "Family Purchases". If you get the "This computer must be authorized" error, even after having authorized the computer for the family member's Apple ID, then sign out ("iTunes", "Accounts", "Sign Out"), then Sign back in with your Apple ID.


EACH Apple ID can have 10 devices (5 computers) associated with the Apple ID, so if you have 6 family members, they could have up to 60 devices (theoretically), but only 10 devices each. You cannot specify which songs, movies, or apps are shared (it is "all or none").


Once a computer is associated with an Apple ID, then family sharing can download from that Apple ID. Each family member who is sharing must authorize the computer device on their Apple ID. Once on the computer, then you can download to any number of iPods, iPads, or iPhones from the computer (by syncing with the computer through iTunes), thus "sharing" purchases. If the device logs in directly to a single Apple "family" ID, then you could easily hit the 10 device limit, one way around this is have the mobile devices sync to the family computer (which is an "authorized" device) to share songs, not login directly to a single account for the family.


ITunes match also allows a family to share purchases, as any family member that has "share" enabled will also have their songs appear under the iTunes Match account. ITunes Match is also limited to 10 devices (for $25/year), but a family could theoretically have more than one iTunes Match account (associated with different Apple IDs) to increase the 10 device limit, see http://www.macworld.com/article/1163610/itunes_match_many_apple_ids_under_one_ic loud.html


Hope this helps!

Jul 10, 2017 8:18 PM

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Jul 15, 2017 5:31 AM in response to jlt0812 In response to jlt0812

Your last sentence is funny. I still don't think you understand the OP's question. And you clearly don't understand what many of us long term Apple customers deal with in terms of iCloud IDs vs. iTunes ID. Yes, they are both Apple IDs. iTunes was launched BEFORE iCloud. Apple has never come up with a way to merge IDs.

There is no iCloud ID or iTunes ID, there is no such thing nor has there ever been.


You have an Apple ID and password which is what you use to sign into iCloud and iTunes.


I can't misunderstand something that doesn't exist.

Jul 15, 2017 5:31 AM

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Jul 15, 2017 5:38 AM in response to srfbabydoc In response to srfbabydoc

You CAN disassociate a device from your Apple ID, on your computer, by going to "preferences", "iCloud", "Account Details", "Devices", the select the device and select "Remove from Account".

NO!!!


Devices aren't associated devices because they use your ID, they are associated devices because you use certain iTunes features. The list of associated devices that you can view in iTunes is not the same as the list of devices that you're currently signed in to with your Apple ID.


To remove associated devices...


  1. Open iTunes.
  2. If you’re not signed in, sign in with your Apple ID.
  3. From the menu bar at the top of your computer screen or at the top of the iTunes window, choose Account > View My Account.
    User uploaded file
  4. Enter your password, then press the Return or Enter key on your keyboard, or click View Account.
  5. Scroll to the iTunes in the Cloud section, then click Manage Devices. If none of your devices are associated with your Apple ID, you won't see this section.

Jul 15, 2017 5:38 AM

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Jul 16, 2017 9:18 AM in response to srfbabydoc In response to srfbabydoc

THANK YOU!


EACH Apple ID can have 10 devices (5 computers) associated with the Apple ID, so if you have 6 family members, they could have up to 60 devices (theoretically), but only 10 devices each. You cannot specify which songs, movies, or apps are shared (it is "all or none").


This is the first time I have seen a reasonably clear answer and I think I have finally figured this out. I know people at or close to Apple think this is straightforward but it is not. The most important thing that I think is missing in your support responses or clarifications is the following:


To use Family Sharing properly, each family member MUST sign into BOTH iTunes(App Store) and iCloud with the Apple ID they use for iCloud on every Apple device they own / use. For younger or newer Apple users, this may seem obvious. But for those that started back in 2007 or so, most of us have an Apple ID we have used for iTunes and App Store purchases and a Different Apple ID we use for iCloud an iCloud services.


I have a family of 4 (me, wife, 2 kids). Until now, with every family device, I would enter their iCloud ID for iCloud but use my original Apple ID for iTunes/App Store. That way, everyone had access to anything purchased with our original Apple ID. BUT, and this is the big hangup, every device that had my original Apple ID entered for iTunes/App Store counted as 1 of the 10 allowed devices. So, pretty quickly, a family of 4 reaches the 10 device limit if you have MacBooks, iPads, iPhones in some combination.


Family Sharing in this case is still helpful for things like sharing locations, shared calendars, etc. but has no impact on alleviating the 10 device limit.


My big AHA after all these years is for every single one of my family's Apple devices, I need to "LOG OUT" of iTunes and then log in WITH THE SAME Apple ID that is used for Family Sharing. You then enable sharing purchases for that family member (in the family owner iCloud preferences) and that family member should then be able to access my original iTunes / App Store purchases made with the master iTunes Apple ID for up to 10 devices of their own.


I am traveling while writing this (outside US) so I may need to wait until I am back to get it working but it does now make sense.


Hope this helps a few others gain some clarity as it has for me.

Jul 16, 2017 9:18 AM

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Jul 16, 2017 7:32 PM in response to jlt0812 In response to jlt0812

You are welcome. I have a family of 6, and we just hit our 10 device limit. We also use iTunes Match, which also has a 10 device limit. I plan to purchase a second iTunes Match (for $25/yr) for my oldest, who is a teenager, to allow her to start purchasing her own music (and I plan to let the other kids share her iTunes Match account, for now). Family sharing will still allow each family member to access purchases on any family member's iCloud account through iTunes, but the music I have from other sources (which were uploaded from my account to iTunes Match) will no longer be visible on her (new, personal) iTunes Match account. Each family member has a separate login on our iMac, so I suspect if I load our personal music (at least the music she is interested in...) onto her iTunes account on her account/login on the iMac, then they will also be uploaded to her separate iTunes Match account. Note that when I disassociate her from my iTunes Match account, then Apple will not allow her to associate with a new iTunes Match account for 90 days (if I'm reading this correctly):


http://www.macworld.com/article/1163658/web-apps/itunes-match-what-you-need-to-k now.html


While I haven't tried this yet, what I am expecting to happen is the family will have 2 different iTunes Match accounts (for a total of $50/year), with a total device limit of 20 devices--10 devices for my wife and I on my account, and 10 devices for my 4 children on my oldest child's account. All iTunes purchases will (hopefully) then be shared across the devices using family sharing.

Jul 16, 2017 7:32 PM

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Dec 8, 2017 5:49 PM in response to Winston Churchill In response to Winston Churchill

Perhaps you cannot understand something that doesn’t exist. Some people say God does not exist, while others say they understand him quite well. However, it doesn’t prevent you from being a complete *** on this forum.


Are you just some guy that chimes in here and there or do you actually work for Apple? Because I would be very disappointed to know Apple would allow a petulant ***** as yourself represent the house that Steve built.


Bewildering.


Apple user since 1984.

Dec 8, 2017 5:49 PM

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Dec 15, 2017 8:27 AM in response to jlt0812 In response to jlt0812

Did this work?

I have virtually the identical situation (2007 set-up)... family of 4... lots of devices all using the original "purchasing" iTunes/iCloud/AppleID account and have 4 individual Apple ID's for individual iMsg etc. This structuring/work-around was recommended by Apple for many years.

I literally had to draw out a map of devices, ID's, and iCloud back-up plans. Hard to change... but now as the kids are getting older I bought 2 MBA's for the kids and want them to begin managing their own iTunes library... and want to marry their iPads to these MBA's.

IF the above explanation is to sign them out of the "family purchasing" iTunes/iCloud/AppleID and sign back in to iTunes with their individual AppleID account (they are under the "Family Sharing" tree) and "share" the purchases... I hope that works...

Understanding Family Sharing is easy for those only now setting up family devices, but for those of us with a decade of Apple devices, content sharing plans, and years of preplanning... converting is not so simple.

Dec 15, 2017 8:27 AM

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Jan 29, 2018 6:42 AM in response to Atlantax In response to Atlantax

@Atlantax~ I understand what you are saying and I share the frustration. Today, I am surprised that Apple has not increased the limit to 20 or just remove the limit all together. I understand this topic has a lot to do with copyright stuff and protection.


I don't need anyone to explain the situation or the reason behind the computer/device limit. There has been many articles regarding this topic and has been talked about in other forums.


With that said, I speak with some frustration like Atlantax and I can relate to this person's point of view. In my situation, I have mostly Apple products in my house. I have a mix bag of ATVs, iPads, iPhones, Macbook, iMac, Mac Minis and not to mention my iMac at work. Also, I am using iTunes Match and I am using Family Sharing among my family members.


The Apple ID structure in my home goes like this.


Organizer- I primarily use this ID, someone@yahoo.com, as the main Apple ID and it is used in iTunes & App Stores and iCloud. I have paid for extra storage so I am on the 200gb plan.

Wife (Parent/Guardian)- She has her own Apple ID

Teen 1- She has her own Apple ID

Teen 2- She has her own Apple ID

Teen 3- He has his own Apple ID


Each family member has a separate Apple ID associated with a Gmail account.


The computer/device structure goes like this.


Organizer (dad)- I have iMac (home) and iMac (work), iPad Mini 2, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, Macbook Air, Apple Watch 3, Mac Mini Server (2) and a Mac Mini desktop computer.

Wife- iPhone 6, iPad Pro and iPad Mini 1

Teen 1- iPhone

Teen 2- iPhone and iPod Touch 5g

Teen 3- iPhone and iPod Touch 5g

Home- Apple TV (2) and iPad 2


Obviously, new devices will be added in future and devices will be taken out of circulation as things break or no longer needed.


As you can see my device structure is mostly iOS driven with some computers in the mix. Next, I will continue with the Apple ID arrangement and where I fall short with the "computer authorization" limit.

Jan 29, 2018 6:42 AM

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Jan 30, 2018 6:38 AM in response to Atlantax In response to Atlantax

So, I am going to continue with my "computer authorization" limit problem or frustration. If you are not familiar with my situation, please read my previous post.


In the previous post, I mentioned my Apple ID structure and my Device/Computer structure in my home. Now, I want to speak about how each family member uses their own Apple ID and how it ties into Family Sharing. Also, I had mentioned that I use this Apple ID, someone@yahoo.com, as the "master" ID for family members to purchase Apps and stream music through Apple Music, etc...


Before I proceed, lets talk about the explanation or in this case Apple's explanation of Family Sharing. Apple states: "Family Sharing makes it easy for up to six family members to share iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases, an Apple Music Family Membership, and an iCloud storage plan. Your family can also share a photo album, calendar, and reminders, and even help locate each others’ missing devices".

With that said, I am already using iTunes, iBooks, App purchases, Apple Music and iCloud storage. All of these services, except iBooks, are being shared with my family members, hence, Family Sharing.


Now, I want to give an over view of each family's ID and their device.


Organizer (ME)- I use this ID, someone@yahoo.com on ALL of my devices including computers. I use this ID in iCloud, iTunes & App Store on my devices. Right there, I am using this ID on at least 5 computers not to mention my iOS devices.


Wife (MOM)- She is using this ID, someone@yahoo.com, ONLY on iTunes & App Store. She uses her own Apple ID on iCloud.


Teen 1- Same setting as the Wife.


Teen 2- Same setting as the Wife.


Teen 3- Same setting as the Wife.


Home- Apple TVs using the "master" Apple ID as well.


As you can see, I am using the "master" Apple ID, someone@yahoo.com, to sign in on EACH family member's device under iTunes and App Store. Then, each member uses their own Apple ID to sign in to iCloud. This is how I am using Family Sharing. For the most part it works but there are some burps.


Where's the problem? Well, the problem is this, since I am using the "master" Apple ID on 5 computers, I am getting the "computer authorization" limit message for that reason and that reason alone. I think this affects the rest of the family even though they are all using iOS devices. I know the simple answer is to "deauthorize" a computer or two. In my opinion, I don't feel that I should "deauthorize" any computer.


I guess Apple's vision to is reduce the number of computers in the home and uses mostly iOS devices. I would like Apple to increase the NUMBER of computers allowed or remove the the "computer authorization" limit entirely. If iOS devices are not affected by the "computer authorization" limit then remove the ridiculous limit.

Jan 30, 2018 6:38 AM

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Jan 30, 2018 6:48 AM in response to pfisher112 In response to pfisher112

If iOS devices are not affected by the "computer authorization" limit

They aren't, computer authorisations only applies to computers, iOS devices cannot be authorised / deauthorised.


I would like Apple to increase the NUMBER of computers allowed or remove the the "computer authorization" limit entirely.

Apple are not here, we are just fellow user, if you want to leave feedback to Apple about the five computer limit (but it's unlikely to be removed for significantly changed for obvious reasons) : http://www.apple.com/feedback/

As you can see, I am using the "master" Apple ID, someone@yahoo.com, to sign in on EACH family member's device under iTunes and App Store. Then, each member uses their own Apple ID to sign in to iCloud. This is how I am using Family Sharing.

That isn't how Family Sharing is designed to be used, each member has their own iTunes account and that is the account that they use to sign in everywhere.

Jan 30, 2018 6:48 AM

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Jan 30, 2018 8:32 AM in response to King_Penguin In response to King_Penguin

@King Penguin~ I am well aware that Apple doesn't come on this forum or read anything on here. I was clearly just talking out loud and I was commenting on what I would like Apple change.


As I had previously stated, each of my family members has there own Apple ID and iTunes account. So, if EACH family member is using their own Apple ID then how does EACH member "SHARE" services with each other such as Apps, iBooks, Calendar, iCloud storage, etc...?


I must have misunderstood Apple's explanation of Family Sharing. I don't see any problems with my Family Sharing configuration and how I am using it.


Obviously, I have Family Sharing all wrong, YOU must have Family Sharing setup the correct way. Please share the details?

Jan 30, 2018 8:32 AM

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User profile for user: Atlantax

Question: Family Sharing Device Limit