Getting control of Apple IDs

Each person should have one Apple ID and use it for all services on all their devices. Unfortunately, sometimes reality falls short of the ideal. Contacts, calendars, photos, documents, texts and even FaceTime calls go to the wrong person or data fails to sync correctly on all devices.

Identifying Apple IDs and confirming access

The first step is taking an inventory of Mac user accounts, devices, Apple IDs & passwords.

  1. Check each computer & device for every person in the group. List which Apple IDs are used for iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, iTunes & App Stores on each device.
  2. Gather all passwords for each user account, device & Apple ID. It helps to have everyone on-hand or reachable by phone for this process.
  3. Verify access for each Apple ID. Log into each at https:/ See Apple ID tips for cases where an Apple ID password fails.
  4. You can confirm which devices are signed into an iCloud account at
  5. If an Apple ID has been used for purchases, check the purchase history and note Apple IDs that have associated credit cards.
  6. Map out which Apple ID each person will use. Remember each user should have one Apple ID for all their devices & services, usually the one with the most app & video sales.
  7. If you plan to use Family Sharing, a tech-savvy user can become the organizer of the group. You’ll need that person’s credit card info.

Setting up proper Apple IDs & Family Sharing

Now we’ll update Apple ID info, set up Messages, FaceTime, iCloud, and Family Sharing.

  1. Change Apple IDs at to match the user’s primary email address & manage alternate email addresses. Update passwords & security questions.
  2. Document everything for each user, especially the Apple ID they will use along with password,  security questions & answers.
  3. Set new user account passwords & device passcodes, especially if they had been shared among the group.
  4. Sign into Messages & FaceTime accounts on Mac and iOS devices. The Start messages from setting should be same on each a user’s devices. If an iOS device will be shared by several people, sign out of Messages & FaceTime unless you want the kids to answer Mom & Dad’s work correspondence.
  5. Switch iCloud accounts on devices. Be careful which iCloud services you enable on a shared iPad or other device.
  6. Set up Family Sharing. As long as they all bill to the same credit card, up to 6 people (with their own Apple IDs) can share app, music, TV & other purchases, and share some photos & calendars… while keeping all other data separate and private.
  7. Consider consolidating an entire music library under one Apple ID [Evernote].

Learn more about migrating data between accounts.

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