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Apple ID Guide for Families

Level 21: Regular
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It's becoming more and more common for families to have a number of Apple devices and if you don't set up your Apple IDs correctly this can cause major problems such as messages and facetime calls routing to everyone's device or running out of iCloud storage fast due to everyone backing up to the same account. This guide is to hopfully explain how an Apple ID affects different services and the best settings for a family with multiple devices


On iOS devices, there are four places in the settings where you can be signed into an Apple ID




iCloud provides users with an email address, a 5GB storage where devices can back up to and keeps your photos, contacts, calendars, reminders, internet settings, passwords, documents and notes in sync across all devices in which you are signed into iCloud.


As many of these things will be personal for each family member it is recommended that the person who uses each device the most signs into iCloud with their own AppleID. This will stop everyone having each others calendar events, contacts and other data. It will also give each user their own 5GB of cloud storage for device backups which is better than having a large number of devices backup to the same cloud storage and can save having to pay Apple for larger cloud storage


iMessage and Facetime


These services operate in a similar way and their settings are very similar which is why I have grouped them together. AppleID with these services allow you to sign into multiple devices and send and receive iMessages or Facetime calls from any of these devices with these services being synced with each device. Read an iMessage on one device and the alert will disappear on all devices. I for example am signed into iMessage and Facetime on my iMac, my iPad and my iPhone allowing me to receive messages or Facetime calls regardless of the device I am using.


For this reason, again it is best that each family member signs into these services on the device(s) that they use the most or in the case of Macs they should have separate user accounts and sign into iMessage and Facetime on their own user accounts. This will make sure each user only receives messages and calls that were intended for them


iTunes and App Store


This one is more of a judgement call. There are definite advantages and disadvantages of having a unified or a separate store account. You will have to assess the pros and the cons yourself and work out what will be best for you


Unified Single Store Account


+ Only need to purchase apps and other content once to use on all devices

+ iTunes Match will allow matched content to be accessed on all devices

- You may have to turn automatic downloads off on all devices to prevent content not relevant to you from being downloaded to your device

- There is the potential for family members to charge your card for content without your permission but only if you tell them your password. This risk can also be reduced through the use of the restriction settings


Individual Store Account


+ Each users purchased content is kept separate

+ Makes it easier if a family member gets an iTunes Gift Card as a present

+ No risk of content being bought without permission

- Have to purchase the same content multiple times if required by more than one family member

-  iTunes match will only work on the account it was purchased on. Other users will not be able to access iTunes in the cloud without purchasing it for their own accounts


I personally have the store accounts set up to share the same one across all devices. For us the benefits of not having to pay more than once for the same content and of being able to share the iTunes Match subscription vastly outweighs any risks and we also use the restrictions feature on our children's iPod Touches to prevent unwanted purchases and in app purchases.


Hope the above proves useful in explaining how best to set up multiple iOS and Apple devices in a family situation

Message 1 of 12

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Although this info is split across the forum it's good to have it it one place too.

Great post.
Message 2 of 12

Level 94: Supreme
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Another good guide Dave, well done slight_smile
I have no affiliation whatsoever with O2 or any subsidiary companies. Comments posted are entirely of my own opinion. This is not Customer Service so we are unable to help with account specific issues.

Currently using:
OnePlus 6 (O2 & Sfr), Z3 Tablet (Three UK), iPhone 8+ (EE)
Message 3 of 12

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Lovely guide Dave slight_smile

Still working on utilizing all the great guides you've written guys. The re-design takes some time though. By all means ask me about it via here or by PM and I'll try and be as open as I can.
Fancy writing a great device review or O2 forum guide? Send me a message!

Get involved:
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Message 4 of 12

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I manage 3 iTunes, App Store libraries.


I set up a separate iTunes libraries for each.


I find for me, that this is the easiest way to keep all the content etc on all the device totally separate.


Incase people aren't aware. To set up a separate iTunes library in iTunes you do the following:



1: If you're using Windows, hold down the Shift key and then load iTunes. If you're using a Mac, hold down the Option key and then load iTunes.

You should see one of these screens:










2: To create a new library click on the CREATE LIBRARY tab.


2a: You will then have this window shown:





3: This will now create a new iTunes library in the iTunes folder on your computer. Any Apps downloaded or music that you put on your iPhone through iTunes whether this is in the form of music added on off of CD’s or MP3 files, will then be added to this iTunes library. To create another library, repeat this process.



4: Now when you want to choose a different library (from the selection of libraries that you have created). Hold the SHIFT key (with Windows) (or with Mac hold down the OPTION key). Load up iTunes, then on the window that appears (it will be the same window that I have shown above) click on the CHOOSE LIBRARY tab.


4: Next you will have a window appear. You will need to navigate to the iTunes folder. This is located in your Music folder. So this will be Music/iTunes, then you will see a folder with the same name as the one you created in the earlier steps. Click on this folder and inside this folder will be a file called "iTunes Library.itl". This file is the iTunes library file and contains all the details for the content stored on it. Here's what I see on my computer:






5: After you have clicked on OPEN. iTunes will load up with that particular iTunes library and will show all the Apps, Music etc for that particular iTunes library.








Message 5 of 12

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Yet another fantastic walk through @fatboy.

This and Dave's addition will go to further complete the other write ups / walk throughs.

Message 6 of 12

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@Anonymous wrote:
@Yet another fantastic walk through @Anonymous.

This and Dave's addition will go to further complete the other write ups / walk throughs.


Thank you bandofbrothers.


I'm waiting on a new set of earphones/mic to arrive. Once I have these I'm going to make a video guide, talking through and showing some good tips and things I've found out with Touch ID.

Message 7 of 12

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Have you seen the set up of Jeff's workplace from downloadblog.

Pretty neat.

Looking forward to your video guides.

Message 8 of 12

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@Anonymous wrote:
Have you seen the set up of Jeff's workplace from downloadblog.

Pretty neat.

No, I haven't seen this.


I'm struggling to find downloadblog on the forum, could you provide me with a link to it bandofbrothers please slight_smile

Message 9 of 12

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Message 10 of 12