Solve a Great iCloud Mystery – Dealing with Multiple Apple IDs across Apple Devices

Note: There is a lot to learn about the iCloud that isn’t shared in this tutorial. To learn how to use the iCloud quickly check out my book, “The Real Life Guide to the iCloud“.

This tutorial is written from the perspective of those using all Apple products.

Apple’s launch of the iCloud has caused users a whole lot of iConfusion. There are several different causes for confusion, but today I am going to cover one of the trickier parts of the iCloud.

How do you share music, movies and apps across your family without sharing an individual’s iMessages, Contacts, and Calendar?

Before the iCloud everything seemed to work in perfect harmony…


Then iCloud came along. It was supposed to be really cool, useful and easy.  Instead it sort of rained on everyone’s parade…


A lot of families went to turn on their iCloud with their Apple ID and found it made a big mess. iMessages showed up on each other’s phones, contacts synched to their spouses phone and all their toddler’s photos downloaded to their Photostream.

So here is the key. Every device is going to have its own iCloud ID (which really is another Apple ID), and your iTunes Store is going to be attached to the one family Apple ID. You will still be able to download any iTunes music, movies, apps, etc across all your devices. I realize this may all be a bit confusing and probably creates new questions like, “What about my Photostream”?


This does require a little planning before you jump in to do this.

1. Determine which email is going to be associated with your iTunes account. This is your iTunes Apple ID.

2. The best practice is to have an iTunes and an Apple ID and then each person should have an iCloud Apple ID for his or her own computers or devices. Keep in mind a computer (laptop or desktop) can only manage one iCloud account. So you may want to layout which devices connect via iCloud with which computer.

NOTE: You can sync more than one device to a computer manually if you just want to bring some photos in or something like that.


Now let’s get down to the steps you need to take to accomplish this. Any device you create a new iCloud ID for will need to get disconnected from the current Apple ID. To do this:

1. Go to SETTINGS on your iPhone or iPad.
2. Go to iCLOUD.
3. Scroll to the very bottom, press DELETE ACCOUNT. Before you panic, this is not going to Delete your iCloud account. It is simply going to delete the bridge that connects your device to the iCloud.
4. Choose to KEEP ITEMS ON YOUR DEVICE if asked.

After we have done this we create a new Apple ID for each person that wants to have their own separate iCloud account.

1. Go to:
3. Use an existing email address.
4. Follow all the instructions to create the ID.

NOTE: If you want to maintain a family iTunes account, you do not want to sign into iTunes using this AppleID. IF you do this any songs or videos you purchase will belong to that AppleID. If you want to buy everything separate from the family then sign in with this new ID.

Now we need to link your device to the new account you just created.

1. Go to SETTINGS on your device.
2. Choose iCLOUD.
4. Put in the Apple ID you just created for your iCloud. NOT the family iTunes Apple ID.
5. Turn on all the elements of iCloud you want to use.
6. You can turn on the Photostream, but be sure to read more information about that in the next section.

Great! Now you are set up with your own iCloud Apple ID for your device (say your iPhone).

Let’s double check that your iTunes store is still connected to the correct iTunes Apple ID.

1. Go to SETTINGS.
2. Go to iTUNES and APP STORE
3. Look at the Apple ID listed on the top. Be sure it is the one the family is using to purchase music, movies, apps etc..
4. You can even set whether you want those purchases to automatically download to your device.

Let’s also make sure the laptop/desktop you want to link iCloud with is setup as well. Now this will vary from family to family. If each person has his or her own computer to sync to just connect those iCloud accounts. If you share a single computer you will need to determine which iCloud account you want to link to.

To link an iCloud account you need to:

2. Go to iCLOUD.
3. Sign Out if you need to. Then sign in with your iCloud Apple ID.

Now all your Calendar, iMessages, Contacts etc… should sync between device and computer without interference.

NOTE: There are many great advantages to having a separate iCloud Apple ID, but one notable one is it gives your device its own 5GB of backup. If you share an Apple ID for your iCloud you will be forced to share this 5 GB with which ever device is also attached.

The last piece to this puzzle is the Photostream. First I want to make sure you clearly understand how Photostream functions. When your Photostream is on, the last 1000 images from your device go into your iCloud’s Photostream. But keep in mind it is only saving the last 1000, so the oldest images get pushed out. Now those pictures are also kept in your devices’ Camera Roll. However, if you want them kept permanently on your computer you have two options:

1. You can set up iPhoto on a laptop/desktop to receive your Photostream. But at this point iPhoto can only be attached to one Photostream account at a time. If you are a family with one laptop/desktop choose which device you want to attach to iPhoto.

2. If you do not want your device to be the main Photostream for iPhoto you can still bring those photos into your computer manually.

NOTE: There are some other options with iPhoto, Photostream and the newly added Shared Photostream. If you need more information, check out my book, “The Real Life Guide to the iCloud“.

Congrats! You are now set up with one family iTunes Apple ID and iCloud Apple IDs for your devices. Let me know what questions you have, as this is a bit of a confusing process.



  1. Awesome info. As the hubs and I were setting up our new iMac, this is the one issue we were having trouble with. Appreciate you walking us through this.

  2. Rachel says:

    This has helped a lot. Thank you so much! But I am still a little confused. We are a family of 7 with 5 devices (Rob-Iphone, Me-Iphone, Emi-Itouch, Abby-Itouch, Youngest three share -Ipad) and only one computer (i know, that is dumb, but it is the reality currently). Question: How will this set up work with Apps, the same as purchasing music? Is it possible to keep all Apps downloaded to a device from downloading to all devices yet still downloading to the computer? And which device should we tie to ICloud on the PC?

    Sorry I am such an idiot! It is just so overwhelming! And I consider myself pretty decent at keeping up with technology!

  3. GREAT help! If only the genuises at Apple had been smart enough to avoid all the confusion they created for us users. They must have had their heads in the cloud. :-) I’d like to be paid their hourly rate for the time I’ve wasted dealing with various Apple IDs because of an email address change, setting myself up on icloud, and having multiple “Apple IDs” from previous generations of Apple’s lost art of intuitiveness and upward compatibility. — Amen! P.S. I wish I were confident that my trials and tribulations concerning Apple IDs and iCloud, etc. etc. etc. are over. I’m not! But this article gives me some hope. Thanks again! – BJB

  4. This is one of the best explantions I have come across. Very easy to follow and implement. Thank you for taking time to do this article.

  5. Sabrina says:

    Looks like you’ve got this all figured out for families but what can I do to share one icloud account with 40 salespeople. All I want to do is to be able to upload presentations and have them appear on everyone’s ipad in their keynote app. The problem is many of the sales people also store their personal apps, contacts, photos, and calendars under their own IDs and download personal music using their own iTunes account. Can you please help me with a solution?

    • Sabrina
      I wish I could give you an answer, but I think the bottom line is iCloud just isn’t cut out to do this yet. They seem far more focused on the individual person than a business setup.

      • Just got to apples’s App Store and down and download Google Drive. It’s designed to do exactly what you are asking about and it will even let you all collberate on the same document. It’s free and it’s wonderful and it’s easy to use. of coursework will now Have to use google docs and speadsheets etc nstead of Apple’s pages and Numbers etc., but that is a good thing because google docs and spreadsheets etc is now industry standard and pages certainly is not. Also, google docs will effortlessly convert it’s format into the Microsoft word format if you want it to.

    • iTunes was not created for professional use, it’s more of a consumer thing.
      Use a professional app such as DropBox. Done.

    • Apple can’t be faulted for not being able to accommodate every possible scenario; sharing presentations with a salesforce is not what iCloud was meant to do. At all. Its purpose is to help individuals keep their personal info in sync among their devices.

      You should be looking for solutions that are made for this – like Dropbox. Or Box. They offer free storage, and you can create an account to give out to all the salespeople. An AppleID is a personal account, and should be treated as such.

  6. Great “How To”. Who says Apple is easy!? This is one of the most confusing and convoluted systems I have seen to date, but it’s been working great since probably 90%+ of the “iCloud” users are 20 somethings who horde everything. Sharing devices with family members can be a REAL pain and this sums it up really well.

    Thanks for this!

  7. A good temp. fix, I suppose. What happens when Sally moves out and starts her own family? She’s got to leave her music collection and video purchases behind with the family account.

    You cannot transfer purchases from the family account to the individual. The long-term solution is to stick it out, one user ID account per person and wait out Apple to simplify their execution.

    • Hi Joel

      You could try setting it up like I describe below so that each family member uses their own AppleID; as long as everyone is authorized to use each others’ purchases, there are no issues and they have the benefit of enjoying the large combined library. When Sally moves out and starts her own family, she takes her purchases with her. She loses the apps and music that her family purchased independently, but it’s a fair system and reasonable solution.

  8. I’m not sure why everyone has had such a difficult time with their iCloud setup. For personal use, it’s idiot-proof and beautifully syncs all devices in a very Apple-like user-friendly way. Granted, setting up a family “share this, but not that…and make it different for every member of the family” account requires more thought, but I don’t think this was Apple’s plan when they started iCloud.
    The method described here is interesting – but I think it’s more complicated than it needs to be (or maybe I misinterpreted something…or have the goals wrong). I think it’s confusing to refer to AppleIDs, iCloud IDs, and iTunes IDs. This is not correct; there is only the AppleID, and iTunes and iCloud both use an AppleID to identify a user.

    My solution with my family was as follows: I created a family AppleID which would serve as the “umbrella” account under which our personal ones would sit. Then I created an AppleID for each member of the family. On everyone’s device there are two AppleIDs: the family account, and the personal account. My desktop Mac is shared by us all; my wife and I each have our own user accounts, as do each of the kids – and their accounts are managed by parental controls from my admin account. Each of us has, just like on our iOS devices, both the family AppleID active and our personal AppleID active. My admin account has all of the accounts active, which gives me the advantage of fixing something in my kids’ accounts without having to sign out and in again.

    The reason for my setup is for the flexibility it offers. We can share some things, and keep others private. For example, the shared account enables us to have a common addressbook with shared contacts AS WELL AS private contacts, side by side. I can keep the family contacts up-to-date so that we all get them, and the kids can also have their friends’ contacts without me having to have them. Same goes for iCal; we have calendars that we share, like family events, medical appointments, holidays, etc., and calendars that we don’t share with the others. My wife and I share the photo stream, and the kids each have their own (I don’t need photos of their dolls having tea popping into my AppleTV’s screensaver during a dinner party). Reminders are the same – we have our separate lists that the others can’t see, and the common ones (while I’m shopping and using a grocery list, my wife keeps adding items to the list from her own Reminders app). Using Find my iPhone, I can see where each device is (very cool!). And with iTunes, my wife and I use the common account to purchase apps and music, whereas the kids each use their own for purchases (they were set up using gift cards). I don’t particularly want them having download ability with my credit card. :) This is nice also, because the kids learn to use their own money (from redeemed gift cards) responsibly, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

    With iTunes, one could set things up so that everyone has a separate music library. In our case, we wanted to have one big shared library. I have authorized the computer for each account, so that we can all have our individually purchased music living together in peace and harmony. It would be a shame for one of my kids to buy a song, only to discover that her sister had bought the same song (or app, etc). This takes care of that issue.

    Sorry for the long post, and I hope I didn’t step on any toes here. I thought everyone might like to know that there are other ways to set things up that may more closely suit their needs, or give them greater control or flexibility. I’m also hoping people will see what an incredible job Apple really did do with iCloud, and how powerful it can be. Sometimes it takes a bit of reading (the Help menu, the online Apple help, etc.), but it’s worth it to get this level of convenience and finesse.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to make that long post. It was a great explanation of how to do the seperate but shared.

    • So in your case, the umbrella account is not your personal account? You have a personal account as well as the family account on your personal device?

      My other question is about the shared iTunes library – so each user account on the mac is able to access the same iTunes library? If that’s the case, then when they sync new purchases does it update the shared library so that anyone can access the content at that point (wouldn’t they have to be logged in with the shared library Apple ID)?

      • Ryan
        You are correct, the umbrella account (I assume you are referring to the iTunes account) is not the personal account. In reference to your second question, each user is able to access the same iTunes library because you sign into the iTunes STORE on your device with the umbrella account. Then anyone can pull from that shared iTunes account. They could have things automatically download just depending on their settings. So just to review: sign into iCloud with your own personal account, then sign into iTunes with the umbrella account.

        Thanks for stopping by the site.

        • Supergirl says:

          Hi Lauren, quick question: your response to Ryan seems to be in regard to YOUR setup, not Crow’s. Is that correct? It looks to me like Crow has it setup so that everyone uses their personal accounts to purchase (he references his kids using gift cards.) So in that case, how does one setup the shared Itunes library? I posted the same question to Crow directly btw. TIA!

    • Crow, thanks for adding your method as well! I do understand all IDs are AppleIDs, I just tried to help people through the tutorial by renaming them. It just makes more sense to a lot of people that way. I believe the main difference in our set ups is the iTunes Apple ID and sharing vs. all downloading separately and authorizing. Both make sense, just depends on your goals.

    • Thank you Crow for your excellent explanation, now if I only have the courage. I am a shattered sharer with quadruple copies of all my photos courtesy of Photostream , IPhoto, Picassa and my own rash actions….. :)

    • mac/pc house says:

      This is great! I just want to clarify/confirm for my situation.
      Currently, I am the only “mac” person in my house. I have an iphone4 that I am planning on giving to my son to use and upgrade myself to the 5.
      I am currently the only one with an itunes account and apple ID
      We will also be adding two ipads for our biz (one for myself and one for my husband).
      Should I simply continue to use my current itunes account and ID for my phone and ipad, and then set up separate ones for all new devices (short of my soon to be ipad?)
      Seems like I would, for cost sake, set up the current (mine) itunes account on the new devices, and then give new apple IDs to my son’s iphone and my husband’s new ipad??
      This would allow app sharing, correct??

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Crow – Thanks so much for posting. This is exactly the setup I had hoped was possible but have never found details on. I’m about to set up my kids devices, so I wonder if you could please answer some questions so I do it right first time. I want them to be able to take their purchases with them when they leave home, but share as a family for now.

      1. Can you please advise specifically where these 2 AppleIDs are entered on each device? i.e. is it just under each category, e.g. iTunes > personal AppleID; iCloud > personal AppleID; Find my iPhone > family AppleID ??? So which for iCal, Contacts etc. ?

      2. iMac – the two kids share my iMac, so I will set them up their own user account on that (and be Administrator). I assume I then load iTunes for each user account under their personal AppleID? How do I make my family AppleID active as well?

      3. How do I set up the one shared music library as you have?

      4. My AppleID (which would be the family umbrella ID) is in the US store. We are living in NZ – would the kids need to be US also to work in this way or can I set them up with NZ? (as easier for family to buy them local gift cards then).

      5. Photos – when kids sync to their iMac user account, will their photos go to their own iPhoto folder? or merge with mine?

      Frankly, I’ll be keen for any details re this whole set up you have as all info I find advises to set up all family members with one AppleID for iTunes purchases which obviously can’t be split up later.
      Sorry this comment is so long lol – happy for you to email me directly if you’d rather. Cheers.

      • HI Suzanne
        I am going to answer your questions in the method I would go about, however Crow may have some different ideas too. There is more than one way to skin a cat with iCloud setup :)
        1. You are correct the IDs are entered in Settings > iTunes or Settings > iCloud. iCal, Contacts will automatically be attached to the Apple ID you enter as the iCloud ID.
        2 & 3. If I understand your question clearly you will sign onto their individual account and use their apple ID to purchase music. This way they own it. But then you want to use Home Sharing to access everyone’s music and therefore create one big music library. You need to pick one Apple ID that is you use to sign in everyone to home sharing. I think it would make the most sense for this to be yours. Anyone that is signed into Home Sharing this way will allow their library to be accessed and will be able to access yours. I hope that makes sense, it is a little confusing but the key is Home Sharing which is under the iTunes “File” category.
        4. Yikes I wish I had a solid answer for this. I am not sure! I tend to think the safer bet is to set up a US store, but I can’t speak to that for sure.
        5. When the kids are signed onto their account on your iMac the photos they import will go into their own iPhoto library. iPhoto libraries can also be shared (or you can chose to not share them) this is all found in iPhoto > Preferences > Sharing.

        I hope this helps you out some. Kids and all this technology is exhausting sometimes!

        • Hi Lauren
          Thanks heaps for replying :) Yes, it does all get a bit tricky with kids devices (hard enough managing all of our own lol). It’s getting it right at start up, to be the best mix of allowing them to continue when older, parental control and safety now, and not creating a rather large mess haha.
          That all sounds good, will set my AppleID up as HomeSharing account on everything. Will use childs AppleID for everything else on their iMac account and device (iTunes and iCloud).
          I can’t find anything decisive re US Homeshare account and NZ purchase account, so will just give it a try. Will use a low giftcard – and if all fails will start again with US store based.
          Actually, just thinking here – to have some shared contacts and iCal info between us, would I actually need to put my AppleID as their iCloud ID? If I did that, would we then also end up with mixed up iMessages?
          Thanks Lauren, appreciate your help.

    • Supergirl says:

      ” In our case, we wanted to have one big shared library. I have authorized the computer for each account, so that we can all have our individually purchased music living together in peace and harmony.”

      How exactly does one set this up? I’m not sure exactly what you mean by authorizing the computer for each account. This setup is exactly what I want, and this is the last missing piece. Please help! TIA :)

    • Crow, this sounds like what Lauren said: an AppleID shared with the family for music and apps (i.e. an iTunes AppleID, aka the “umbrella account”), and then each family member has his own AppleID as well for his own iCloud. I know you posted this a year ago, but I’d like to know how you manage the other accounts from your admin account. Do you need a Mac for that? This sounds like a great family setup. The kids can download what they want (with parental controls), can keep what they bought if they leave for college and take their devices with them, but can share any apps and music with family members in case siblings want to use the same apps.

    • Crow, thank you for taking the time yo do this. It’s exactly how id like to set up my family. How do you do it? I already have my email linked to my AppleID. It seems so complicated, and I’m not sure how to do it. If I change my AppleID email, that will mean my apps go with it. But I don’t think the family account would work with my email?? Please help! Thank you very much.

  9. Hi Lauren,
    I have two i phones, one for business and one for social, ie two simcards, can I link them to the one i cloud account so I dont have to keep checking each phone for my messages?

  10. I’m still a little confused about AppleID vs iTuneID vs iCloudID.
    @Lauren can you explain a little more what’s the difference between your approach and Crow’s approach?
    Not sure what’s the purpose for an AppleID AND iTuneID.

    • Hi Eth
      There really is very little difference in our setup. I may have made more confusing by calling it iTunesID or iCloudID those are both AppleIDs, I just renamed them for the purpose of the tutorial. In my set up the family all shares music and movies from ONE iTunes account name under one AppleID, while Crow has each person still work under their own ID and then authorize other family members to use their music/movies. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  11. Jelger Kingma says:

    I also use the one family account for all my purchases. and each family member has a personal account.
    For getting all the photos of the different divices on my mac I use now the shared photo stream. On each device I have one shared photostream which is linked to the family account. When you want a photo saved to aperture you just post it in the shared photo stream. Within aperture I can then download the sharded photos and I give them a like to notify that the photos are saved in Aperture. So one can decide which photos needs to be saved and which ones not. Saves a lot of crap photos filling up the photo stream if you use it directly. (facebook saves, what app bull&*ˆ%$ and so on)
    Best regards, Jelger

  12. january jones says:

    hi. before i implement your idea above, i want to check a couple of things out with you so as not to create further complications….its a mess…i have multiple apple id’s but i cant remember all of them. there must be one or more out there, because there are purchases in itunes and music on my various devices i can’t access…(gotta love that!) … anyhow, i tried to get itunes match but just got my money back…that’s the extent of the problems i am having. my music is somewhere (??)…i backed up my iphone after my ipad synched automatically with my new mac pro and lost all of its music. so i quickly changed the itunes synching mechanism for my iphone to synch manually since it still had all the music on it. so i did a backup, synched, revisited that backup….no music. this was literally 40 years of music gone. i got an app for music recovery but… couldn’t do it…and i lost $6.99 in that adventure….ok, so when i go to play the kibbles and bits of music still remaining, 90% of them just play thru. i assume that has something to do with not knowing which apple i.d. to put in, but i could be wrong (say it ain’t so!!). I have tried to download music to fill up my music files again, but that’s not good either. because i can download it to my mac, but when i go to put it on my iios devices, it says that it is associated with another apple i.d. and that i have a (whatever) days left before i can do that. i have no idea what apple i.d. that is and i have tried to plug in the ones i know, but to no avail.

    do you get any of what i am saying? gosh i hope so. anyhow, that is where i get hung up and have visited the apple i.d. website and haven’t been able to find out the names of any other possible i.d.s to plug in….damn it….losing all my music really was a bummer and my head is reeling because, of course, last night i decided just to keep plugging along and g and try to find it. also i have basically synched all my icloud and itunes store and settings for anything i could think of all to one apple i.d. (the first one i created) and that doesn’t work either. i tried a “me” account one, but that isn’t it. so there must be one outlier giving me all this trouble, but that doesn’t make sense because my devices at distinctly different times years apart and doubt they would all be the same. i keep thinking to myself “what was apple thinking”….if they had confined it to one apple i.d. and allowed you to change your password, none of this would have occurred, although i doubt when it was implemented, there were so many things that could foul up the process. any advice your tips you have for me would be so greatly appreciated. i miss my music. a lot of it i can’t find and a lot of it (particularly classical music and operas) i can’t find the recordings (some of which were quite rare) i had chosen to purchase.
    technology is great, but it is also one of my greatest nemesis

  13. Q=How do I delete an iCloud account?
    A=Go toiCloud. Select user id & go to the bottom of page and Delete.
    Problem= I have NO Delete on the page. I see login account password.. I don’t remember this so I am told an email will be sent..the email will be sent to the defunct address that I wish to delete. CATCH 22 I think..Can anybody help me please?

    • Hi Ed
      In an effort to save you a lot of work. If you ever discover your password you will still not be able to delete you iCloud account. Your account pretty much always exists. When you press delete as you are trying to do you are actually just deleting the connection to your iCloud account from your device, not the actual iCloud account. Hope that helps.

  14. Margaret says:

    My husband and I wanted to share apps and our calendar. We have iPhones and iPads. I just got the mini. But when I tried to change my apple id on my phone so our apps would sync, nothing changed. And I changed our iCloud accounts so they’d match too, just in case that was the problem… Still nothing has changed.
    What am I doing wrong?

  15. Okay..this will keep “future” things in order ( thank you for the great tutorial) Now, how do I clean up the current mess, all the double songs, which some are grayed out?..I fired up iCloud for the first time , created a playlist once I downloaded my music only to have most of it not want to play on my ipod touch (gen3) even though they were linked to the same Apple ID at the time.. Songs I’ve deleted years ago reappeared like a pesky rash….I’ve recently upgraded the OS to 5. so it did a complete restore and that too puked every sound bite on my computer onto the Touch…even the sound of my aunt snoring…
    Any suggestions? …………..(not for stopping the snoring ;) )


  16. This is a great summary, Laura. Do you (or any followers out there) have any suggestions for, in addition to giving family members separate iCloud accounts, somehow sharing JUST an address book between JUST two of those family members?

    • There is a way, but it is not a great set up (or at least in my opinion it is not). On your computer go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES. The go to MAIL, CONTACTS, CALENDARS. In the bottom left-hand corner you will see a plus sign. There you can add another person’s iCloud account. This is a secondary account. Once you do that you have the option to check the Contacts box under their account. When you do this go into your address book. You should see both your addresses and the other person’s addresses as well. This will all sync with your iCloud. Hope that helps you out.

      • Very clever! That won’t quite take care of my situation (my partner and I use the same mac, sync to the same iTunes account, use the same address book, but she and I use different calendars, email, notes, etc.) but this may come in handy. Thanks for the quick and insightful reply!

        • Other than the issue of sharing the same contacts, you can accomplish everything else you need, by having different logins on your mac for you and your partner. This way, one of your icoulds is linked to one login name, and the other icloud linked to the other login name.

  17. Lauren & Crow,

    My sons have iPod touches currently we share an apple Id for purchases but they have their own id for iMessage, FaceTime , iCloud. I just purchased them both a iPhone 4S. I’m thinking of the future mess of sharing an apple Id for purchases. In your opinion how should I set up their new iPhones? We have only 1 PC at the time to assess iTunes. I’ve read conflicting opinions on having multiple apple ids on one computer? Is it difficult to manage on one PC? Also, if they do have separate apple iD’s is there a way to still share music & apps?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I’m so confused.


    • have you set up your mac with different USERS? This way each person logs into their own user account on the mac, and then they can set up their user account to work with their icloud ID and the family itunes ID (or they can choose to use their own iTunesID if they so choose to).

  18. AMAZING!!! I called apple twice, and each time asked if something like this could be done, or if there was a way to work around the mess of not being able to share iTune purchases with my family. (Of course, I had no idea that this could actually be done, and I had not yet read your blog, i just reasoned that there had to be a way of creating multiple ID’s to make this all work, without mashing up all our contacts and photos.) Thanks to you, i now know how to do this!

    It’s so frustrating when you call the people who are supposed to know these things and they give you such a strong response stating that it can’t be done, when in fact it can! THANKS AGAIN!!! YOU’RE STELLAR!!!

  19. can you point to a guide that helps me create two iCloud accounts coming into the same mac email account.

    ie: K&J K&J and

  20. Apple IDs have been such a mess for two years now. They need to set up a way for us to merge all accounts into one. I’ve had an Apple ID since 2001, and it always worked great until iCloud. I just had to repurchase a $10 app because it was purchased under one Apple ID on my Mac, but wouldn’t download in-app content on my iPhone because I supposedly have a different Apple ID associated with my iPhone and iPad – it’s bullish*t.

    • Peter Park says:

      If a tree falls in a forest, and no one was there to hear it, did the tree make a sound? No.

      If there are three different kind of IDs associated with one Apple ID, but because they’re all tied to a same ID and a user uses the same ID/Password everywhere, are there 3 different accounts? No.

      This was me, before adding 3 more iPhones to the family. Now, everything’s mess.

      What I’m trying to do is essentially separate my iTunes ID from iCloud ID so I can let the others use iTunes ID to access my purchases, as well as purchase more stuff using that ID, without exposing all my personal things to them. But as far as I know, there is no way of separating iCloud ID and iTunes ID if they were created under one Apple ID (even tho everyone says they’re actually two separate IDs). So, I’m forced to turn my existing account into shared account, and create a new iCloud ID for personal use.

      Problem solved(?).

  21. Sri Sankaran says:

    You should be aware that there is a problem with using multiple iCloud accounts.

    The gist of the issue is as folows. You can share photos across multiple iDevices using a shared (family) iCloud account. However, the minute you add a second iCloud account to your iDevice the photostream is wiped clean! This is in spite of the fact that one can only share photos using the primary iCloud account. This has been acknowledged as a bug by our local Apple Genius.

    I have described the problem in detail at

  22. I have 2 iMacs and a Laptop in addition to 4 iPods and 2 iPhones. My question is with the computers. Can I set up multiple computers using the same umbrella Apple ID? then I have to add all of the users to each computer…. I think I may have just answered my question? please confirm. thanks

  23. Great stuff, thanks. We are a family with NO desktop Mac-we have 4 iPads, two iPhones, some PCs, and still some legacy Blackberries. We have a master iTunes account, and two of my kids have their own iCloud ID (one of the iPhones, one of the iPads). I am getting the gist of all the sharing issues-my question relates to the Find My iPhone App. Since this app is iCloud based, when I move my kids’ iPhones/iPads onto their own iCloud ID, I lose access to those devices from Find My iPhone. We have three teenagers, and I like to use this app to keep track of them when they are out (not to mention when they misplace their devices). Is there any way to have them keep their own iCloud ID on their device, yet still be able to view their location using my iPad and the Find My iPhone app (or other, similar app)? Thank you

  24. This is really helpful…unless your kids are under 13. What a nightmare! Anyone know how you can bypass Apple not allowing under 13 to create a cloud account? Seems ridiculous to create multiple accounts for myself with phony emails – doesn’t it?

  25. My partner and I just purchased an iMac and we want to maintain separate messages, calendar, mail, contacts on our previous personal devices, but have the ability to share current music libraries and future music and app purchases. . Matt has an iPad and an iPhone that share an Apple ID and iCloud, Meg has an iPhone, iPad and Macbook that all share the same Apple ID (I know, we are iCrazy). We are wondering if we create an umbrella account and enter that on our personal devices do we lose access to all the apps we have previously purchased on our personal IDs? Also, when setting up a brand new Mac it asks for an Apple ID, should we be using a new umbrella ID for this?

  26. Went to Apple store for help and ended up screwing everything up! Ugh! Here was my wish list:

    We have 2 iPads (one for business), and 4 iPhones(one for business) on one Apple Id. Everything was fine except we kept going past “back up quota”. Didn’t realize-nor did i get told at Apple, that if we just synch to comp. it would solve issue . All I wanted was to put the (non-business) 3 iPhones on one iCloud acct-(young kids under 12). So now we have one big mess of contacts and pics!

    So if I only want to back up pics, contacts, and calendars for those 3 iphones, I can just go to settings<iCloud and turn on those items only. Correct? But then that means that we won't be able to have Individual camera rolls and contact lists? Correct? Or is there some way to make that work without making it more complicated? Or easiest to just have individual iCloud accts for each phone and keep one Apple Id for apps/music/videos??

    Thanks for any help!!

  27. My husband and I are sharing an itunes account. I have it set up so I can access our music using icloud, but can’t figure out how to download the music to my phone. I’d like to be able to access it when I don’t have a strong internet connection or cellular connection. Can you help me?

  28. iCloud Confused - Multi-Device Human says:

    I have two iPhones, one personal iPhone 4s and just got a new iPhone 5 for work.
    I currently have one Apple ID and no iCloud. I’m reluctant to setup any iCloud until I understand how it will work, especially in relation to mixing work/personal via two iClouds, using a single computer and with a single user of both devices (most documentaiton is for sharing within families/households).

    Am I better off to keep one Apple ID and have two iCloud accounts, one for me, one for work?
    I want to be able to share my app/music purchases across my two devices (with myself) as I am a single human.
    I don’t want to mix my work & personal iCloud data, I want to keep them segregated so I can wipe/kill my work one if required, with no impact to my personal data.
    I have a single Windows computer (mine) that I want to plug both devices into (one at a time) to synchronise, but I have another computer in the home (husband’s) I could use for another Apple ID if that would enable any other features only available via computer sharing (he doesn’t use iTunes – so I’ve never used this function).

    For all the documentation Apple appear to have on Apple IDs and iCloud Accounts, there is no information for people like me with two phones for a single human.

    Any tips, warnings or features that would be useful for me?

    • If I fully understand your situation you should be able to keep a work iCloud account and personal iCloud account. You will just have to use two different Apple IDs (emails) to do this. You can then sign in using your Apple ID that belongs to your iTunes to both phones no matter which iCloud is running. Hope that give you a little more direction.

  29. I appreciate your article, but it doesn’t solve the most important problem–how do I backup all of my devices to iCloud? The free 5gb account isn’t enough, and purchasing several iCloud storage plans is—ridiculously expensive.

  30. King eDward says:

    I was so in love with my Apple IIe. I waited years and years, and along came the Intel Mac Pro. iLife, dotMac, and a really cool experience worth every part of every Apple commercial. Then along came MobileMe (sic) and iCloud (sic-er) and confusion. Today, I’m unable to setup a Mail account to my Intel Mac Pro. Sitting here on the phone for 1.5 hours with Mac support. Unbelievable. What is strange is that between the time of the Apple IIe and 2006, I was using Microsoft products. I think I called Microsoft 3 times and realized I was on my own. I became a computer fixer (not user). Today I see myself becoming an Apple fixer, not user. Steve Jobs – where have all the Apples fallen? Cooked.

  31. I have 3 Windows user names. On each user name I have an Itunes account associated with a Ipod. I have 32GB old ones. Every One is completely FULL. My computer is bogged down to less than 10% memory. I have all 3 “Libraries” backed up on an external hard drive. Now i want to delete “Steve1″ and all its music content but still keep “Steve2 & Steve3″ and the music associated with them. I need to clean up some space. Without losing 2 & 3. HELP!!!

  32. In addition to the post earlier, I forgot to say this:

    We have
    2 iPads (one mine and one is my husband’s)
    2 iPhones (one mine and one is my husband’s)
    1 MacBook Pro

    We would like to share apps and music. We would like to have a joint calendar and a separate one and we would like to share some contacts. I’d like to share our photos. At the moment we have different AppleIDs.

    Is this possible? If so, how do we do it?

    I have lots of bought apps and music, my husband doesn’t because he’s just starting out.

    Thank you very much in advance for your help!

  33. On my iphone i cant login to icloud it says error 403

  34. Tried your advise and,it’s weird, everything is check to update to the cloud i my system preferences in my phone but only the calendar is being updated to the cloud, no notes and no contacts (yes, I tried the contacts refresh in the groups) .


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