Essential Guide to Family Sharing
Share iTunes purchases, calendars, and photos with family.
Up until recently, sharing your digital purchases with family was a huge inconvenience. In order to share an app or movie with a family member, you had to share your Apple ID, meaning you not only shared all your purchases but all of the app's data as well. So if you downloaded games you didn't want your kids playing with, tough luck! Thankfully, Apple's new Family Sharing feature allows everyone in your family to share their iTunes purchases and coordinate schedules while still maintaining individual accounts. It allows up to 6 people—children or adults—to share their content with one another across 10 devices. Aside from gaining access to each other's music, apps, books, and movies, once you're set up, you can even create family calendars and reminders so everyone's on the same page.
And don't think that Family Sharing is just for the kids. It's just as useful for adults, allowing you to share books with your sister, your favorite apps with your husband, or music with your best friend (who's basically family anyway).
If you have purchases that you don't want to share with your family, that's okay—you can easily hide them. And if down the road you would rather not use Family Sharing at all, that's fine too. You can leave your iCloud “family” without any heartbreak. You can easily transfer children to different family groups.
To use Family Sharing, each family member must have his or her own Apple ID. Yes, even the kids. While it's not necessarily a bad thing to share an Apple ID with your little ones, there will come a time when your children want and need their own accounts. Sharing an Apple ID also makes it impossible to use features such as FaceTime, iMessage, and Game Center with them. Have you heard your friends complain about their kids' apps and music automatically syncing onto their phones? That happens because their families share one Apple ID. Your kids will eventually grow up and move out, want to pay for their own content, and perhaps be part of a family of their own!
Setting Up Family Sharing
But how, exactly, do you use Family Sharing? You'll be happy to know it's a lot easier than you might think. All you'll need is your Apple ID and an iDevice running iOS 8 or later.
To start, go to Settings > iCloud > Set Up Family Sharing > Get Started. Here, you'll confirm that you're the Family Organizer, which is a fancy title for the person who will be
You'll be prompted to click through a few screens that tell you a little more about Family Sharing and what it offers, and then you'll see a screen that says “Share purchases” at the top. Though you're agreeing to share your purchased content with family members, remember that you can actually pick and choose the content that you share and download.
After confirming your payment method, you get to decide whether you'd like to enable the Ask to Buy option,
which alerts you, the Family Organizer, when someone in your family wants to make a purchase from the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks. You'll only have this option for the kids—not for other family members such as your spouse.
Adding Family Members
You can easily have up to six family members in your Family Group by going to Settings > iCloud > Add Family Member. Remember, everyone must have an Apple ID to use Family Sharing.
Once you send an invitation, the recipient will receive a notification with the option to accept or decline the offer. It's probably best to tell your family members about Family Sharing before inviting them, so they'll be expecting the notification.
Create an Apple ID for a Child
To invite your children under the age of 13 to Family Sharing, you're required to create an Apple ID for them. To prove parental consent, you'll be asked to enter the CVV code from the credit card associated with your Apple ID (debit cards are not allowed). Though you must update the Family Organizer's payment method to a credit card in order to register your child's Apple ID, you may switch back to your previous card as soon as your child is transferred.
Note: Add your credit card as your payment method before attempting to create your child's Apple ID by going to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > View Apple ID > Payment Information.
Family Sharing may seem like an all-or-nothing deal, but remember that you have the option to
hide purchases you'd like to keep private.
You can add a family member by using your stored contacts or by entering the email address
associated with the contact’s Apple ID.
The Family Organizer pays for and approves all
The Ask to Buy feature puts you in charge of
your children’s purchases.
Creating an Apple ID account for a child is easy,
and requires only a credit card.
Your child’s username must end in