A major new feature of iOS is Family Sharing. This feature allows families to share purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store without sharing their personal account logins and passwords. With Family Sharing if Dad buys an app, Mom and Little Brother can immediately download and use the app on their iOS device. The same goes with books, movies, music, and TV shows.
Family Sharing is Apple’s recognition that increasingly our mobile devices and their content are being used across multiple people in the same household, so thankful the company has now enabled them to share their content on each device without requiring the head of the household to manually log in with his or her iCloud ID on every family member’s device to download and use purchased content.
In this guide, we walk you through the steps required to set up Family Sharing and share your content across your household.
iPhone Family Sharing: Requirements
Before you get started you’ll need to decide on who the Family Organizer is. The Family Organizer is essentially the person who controls the payment method linked to the iCloud account and who chooses what family members can be part of the Family Sharing plan they are setting up. Needless to say, the Family Organizer is typically the mom or dad in the household. This Family Organizer will need to make sure they have an iCloud account with valid payment information associated with it. If you have an Apple ID, you have an iCloud account. Forgot your Apple ID password? Here’s how to reset it.
Besides that, every member of the Family Sharing plan must also have an iCloud account. All devices on the Family Sharing plan (iPod touches, iPhones, and iPads) should be running the latest iOS for the best experience.
Finally, know that Family Sharing is limited to 6 people. That includes the one Family Organizer plus five additional family members. Have a bigger family? Time to sell one of the kids.
iPhone Family Sharing: How To Enable Family Sharing
- Once you’ve decided who the Family Organizer is, on his or her iOS device open the Settings app, then tap the Apple ID at the top of the screen.
- Tap “Set Up Family Sharing”.
- Tap “Get Started”.
- On the Get Started screen choose what you want to share. In this case, choose iTunes & App Store Purchases.
- On the next screen, you’ll see the Apple ID of the iCloud member that is the designated Family Organizer. Tap “Continue”.
- If you’re asked to verify your payment information, do so.
- Now tap “Invite Family Members.”
- A Messages popup will appear. Type in the names or emails of the family member you want to add. An iMessage will be sent to them with instructions on how to accept the invite.
When the above steps are completed, you’re done setting up your Family Sharing group.
iPhone Family Sharing: Share Purchased Content
Once the above steps are complete then your Family Sharing group is fully set up. Here’s how anyone in the group can get the content and apps other family members have downloaded:
Each Family Member can go to the Purchased tab in the iTunes, iBooks and the App Store apps on their iOS devices. In this Purchased tab all the content the family members have purchased individually will show up.
To download (ie: share) any of this content to their device the family member simply needs to tap on the download button and it will be installed on their iOS device.
iPhone Family Sharing: Restrictions
Keep in mind that not everything in the iTunes, iBooks and the App Store can be shared in a Family Sharing plan. In-app purchases are not sharable, nor are any items no longer available in the iTunes, iBooks and the App Store. And if you’ve asked for a refund for something bought in the iTunes or App Store, those items are no longer eligible to be shared. Additionally, app developers and content creators can specifically mark their content as “not sharable” which means that these items are excluded from the Family Sharing features of iOS.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.