How to manage multiple iOS devices using one Apple ID

Many households have more than one Apple ID and it is common for family members to share the same Apple ID. This is a convenient solution that allows everyone to get access to all the content purchased on the App Store. Although sharing the same Apple ID allows family members to share the items purchase, it can also cause issues with sharing Contacts, Messages, FaceTime and Calendars. Furthermore, your iMessages will be available on the new devices. It is possible to understand things better when you consider that the data on your phone is divided into two different categories. On one hand, you have the data purchased/downloaded from Apple, including apps and music. Then you have the personal data, which includes Notes, Calendars, FaceTime and Messages.

The idea is to use a single Apple ID on all devices for content purchased and different Apple IDs to manage personal information. For this, it will be necessary to setup individual Apple IDs for every member in the family. Before we go through the steps needed to manage multiple iOS devices while sharing the same Apple ID, it is important to point out that you need to have all the Apple IDs setup and know the passwords. It is possible to register new Apple IDs from iTunes on your computer or straight into your iOS device. Another option is to go to https://appleid.apple.com in order to create an Apple ID. If there are existing Apple IDs, you will need to decide which Apple ID you want to use as the shared ID. This depends on the purchases made on each ID. Apple doesn’t allow you to merge Apple IDs, which means that things can get complicated if there are many purchases made on different Apple IDs.

How to share one Apple ID for iTunes and App Store Purchases

  1. To make sure that all the family members can share the content purchased on the App Store and iTunes, it is necessary to log in to iTunes using the shared Apple ID. You need to open the Settings app on each device, select iTunes and App Stores.
  2. Enter the shared Apple ID and password. If you notice that a different Apple is being used at the moment, you have to sign out of the existing Apple ID before you can enter the new one.
  3. To prevent that all the downloads go to all your devices, disable Automatic Downloads. Once it is enabled, all the items are automatically downloaded to the device when apps, books, music, or games are purchases from any device using the shared Apple ID.

How to keep personal data separate

In order to keep personal data separate for each family member, you need to setup Messages, iCloud and FaceTime on each device using the individual Apple ID for that family member.

To be able to setup iCloud on each device, open the Settings app and select iCloud. If iCloud was not previously setup on the device, you can sign in to it using the individual Apple ID. When the family Apple ID appears in the iCloud Settings, you will have to sign out of the family Apple ID and sign in using the individual Apple ID. Then you need to scroll to the bottom of the iCloud settings and choose Sign Out.

Once you sign out of the existing Apple ID, you will be asked if you wish to keep the iCloud data on the device, or remove it. To transfer the existing iCloud data, including Contacts and Calendars from the device to the new Apple ID iCloud account, you need to select the option to ensure that the data remains on the device when you sign out of iCloud. Once you sign in with the new Apple ID, you have to choose the option to merge the data to iCloud. All the iCloud data will be copied from the device to the new Apple ID iCloud account.

FaceTime and Messages

In the Settings app, you will have to ensure that FaceTime and Messages are setup to use the individual Apple ID. The default is for iMessage and FaceTime to use the Apple ID that was entered when setting up the device. You will need to change it to prevent that messages go to all devices.

  1. Under the Send & Receive settings, you need to change the Apple ID for Messages.
  2. After tapping the Apple ID, select Sign Out in the window that is displayed. Then you can sign in using a new Apple ID.
  3. To change the Apple ID for FaceTime, you can tap the Apple ID in the FaceTime settings and select Sign Out in the window that appears. Then you can sign in using a new Apple ID.
  4. The devices will have to be setup to share purchased items and to ensure that your personal information from other people in your household.
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