Share me­dia with Google Play Fam­ily Li­brary

Google Play Fam­ily Li­brary lets you share items you’ve bought with your fam­ily, ex­plains Jim Martin

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If you buy a book or CD, you don’t think twice about how to lend it to some­one else. But when you’ve bought an app, TV show or an ebook from Google Play, there’s no way to share it: only you can read, lis­ten to or watch it. How­ever, the sit­u­a­tion has changed, so here we show you how to set up and use Google Play Fam­ily Li­brary. Don’t for­get you can also get Google Play on an iOS de­vice.


Go to and sign up. It’s here that you will be­come the Fam­ily man­ager. Pick or en­ter a credit- or debit card’s de­tails. You can in­vite up to five fam­ily mem­bers. New pur­chases can be au­to­mat­i­cally added to Fam­ily Li­brary.


There are quite a few lim­i­ta­tions with Fam­ily Li­brary. First, only chil­dren over 13 can be in­vited to join. This may mean you’re forced to lie about their date of birth in their ac­count if they’re un­der 13, or you have to sign into their de­vice with your Google ac­count – ren­der­ing Fam­ily Li­brary a bit use­less for young chil­dren. Also, not all con­tent can be shared. For ex­am­ple, mu­sic and news­stand pur­chases can’t be added to Fam­ily Li­brary, nor can TV shows, films or books which you’ve rented (as op­posed to bought).

The re­stric­tions con­tinue: you can’t share in-app pur­chases, and apps or games bought be­fore 2 July 2016 can be added only if the de­vel­oper has ‘made past pur­chases avail­able’. Google says you can see if it has by tap­ping ‘Read More’ on the apps page in the store.

It’s sim­i­lar for books: you can share them only if the pub­lisher al­lows it. That’s why it will pay to check for the Fam­ily Li­brary icon next to apps, games, TV shows, movies and books you’re think­ing of buy­ing to see if they’re el­i­gi­ble. It looks like grey house with a white heart in­side it.

Also, if you sub­scribe to Google Mu­sic, you can add Fam­ily Li­brary to your Google Play Mu­sic fam­ily plan – you still need to sub­scribe to the Mu­sic fam­ily plan to do this, of course.

Set up Google Play Fam­ily Li­brary

Open the Play Store on your An­droid de­vice, or go to in a web browser. Sign in if prompted.

By click­ing Get Started, you’ll be­come the man­ager, just as the next screen ex­plains. Click Con­tinue and the next screen ex­plains that one credit or debit card will be used for all pur­chases from mem­bers of the Fam­ily Plan, and that you can only in­vite fam­ily mem­bers aged 13 or older in the same coun­try to join it.

On the next screen, se­lect a card or, if it has ex­pired, en­ter the de­tails of a cur­rent one.

Next, type the email ad­dress or en­ter the phone num­ber of some­one you want to in­vite and hit Send. You can in­vite more peo­ple later by tap­ping the menu icon in Google Play, then Ac­count > Fam­ily > Man­age fam­ily mem­bers > In­vite fam­ily mem­bers. When some­one joins, you’ll get an email con­firm­ing it.

Any con­tent you pur­chased prior to set­ting up Fam­ily Li­brary can be added so that every­one can ac­cess it, but af­ter sign­ing up only items pur­chased us­ing the fam­ily pay­ment method (or a promo code or Google Play voucher).

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