Is It A Good Idea To Share An Apple ID?

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 01/20/20 •  9 min read

Given that every person who owns an Apple computer or device is given the opportunity to create their own unique Apple ID, you might question weather or not it is a good idea to share an Apple ID with one or more family members or not. Should you have your own unique Apple ID, or should you share one?

Every person who uses any Apple product should, without question, use their own unique Apple ID on their Apple devices, (including children). Your Apple ID should not be shared with other people to use on their Apple devices, as it will cause numerous problems for all parties involved.

In this article, we will look at at the advantages and disadvantages of sharing an Apple ID amongst family members and friends, and show the importance of creating an Apple ID for each person who uses an Apple product.

What is an Apple ID and Why Do I Need It?

According to Apple, “An Apple ID is the personal account you use to access Apple services like the App Store, iTunes Store, iCloud, iMessage, the Apple Online Store, FaceTime, and more. It includes the information you use to sign in, as well as all the contact, payment, and security details that you’ll use across Apple services.

Any time you purchase a new Apple product, be it an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac, or an Apple Watch, you will need to register that product using an Apple ID. Registering your Apple device will allow you to back up the data on that device to the cloud via iCloud.

You need your own Apple ID so that the information on your Apple devices can be shared amongst your Apple devices. You don’t want your information shared with someone else, otherwise they would be able to read all of your mail, text messages and other private information that is unique to you.

When we speak of sharing an Apple ID, we are talking about people using the SAME Apple ID for two or more personal devices that belong to different people. For example, if Mom purchases an iPhone for herself and for her son, and sets up her iPhone with an Apple ID and then uses that same Apple ID to set up her son’s new iPhone, that is sharing an Apple ID.

Technically speaking, one Apple ID could be set up on multiple devices for several different people, all sharing the same Apple ID, but the Apple ID was designed for ONE person to use on all of their personal devices.

An Apple ID could be compared to a Social Security number, in that it is unique only to you. It is simply an e-mail address, your personal account you use to access Apple services like the App Store, iTunes Store, iCloud, iMessage, the Apple Online Store, FaceTime.

An Apple ID for My Child?

Yes, you should create an Apple ID for your child.  As a parent, you are in complete control via Screen Time. If your child has their own Apple ID, as their parent, using Screen Time, you will be able control what applications they can use, when they can use them, and who has access to your kids. 

People tend to think that if they share an Apple ID between devices, they have more control over their devices, but that simply is not true. In fact, if shared, you don’t have control over what information is or is not shared. All of it is shared.

You may think that is a good thing, until you realize that your child is getting private text messages you have sent to your spouse, or you find that your playlist is full of music from another family member.

The only way to utilize Screen Time with your children, is if each child has their own Apple ID. You can read more on this in an article I recently wrote entitled, “How To Setup Screen Time For My Family“.

7 Reasons NOT to Share Your Apple ID

There are multiple reasons why it is not a good idea to share an Apple ID. Below, are several scenarios that demonstrate the problems that can occur when sharing an Apple ID with another user on one or more devices.

1) Your Playlists are not your Playlists

If you share your Apple ID with someone else who uses your Apple ID on their Apple device, your playlists become theirs, and their playlists become yours. This does not just affect your music playlists, but the suggested music offered by Apple Music in the “For You” section of Apple Music. Additionally, the songs that they “favorite”, become your favorite songs.Personally, I can’t stand rap music. If I found that Apple Music was recommending the latest from “Kanye West” or “Kendrick“, it would drive me nuts. Likewise, if “Bon Jovi” or “Yes” showed up in my son’s playlist, it would drive him bonkers.

2) Your Text Messages Are Not Private

Generally speaking, text messages from one person to another person are considered private correspondence. As already mentioned, this is not the case when sharing an Apple ID.I heard the story of one adult woman who was receiving sexually charged text messages from her mother’s boyfriend. When she brought it to her elderly mother’s attention, the mother said that she thought that her Apple ID had been hacked. The daughter had to explain that it was because she had used her (the daughter’s), Apple ID when setting up her new iPhone. Had she just created her own Apple ID, this would not have happened.

3) You May Receive FaceTime Calls from People You Don’t Know

That’s right. If you share your Apple ID with someone else who uses your Apple ID on their Apple device, your contacts are not really your contacts. The contacts found on your device are a combination of all who use that same Apple ID. You just may get a FaceTime call from someone you don’t know. The FaceTime call may come from someone in the contact list of the person that you shared your Apple ID with.

4) Your Call Logs Will be Shared

If you share your Apple ID with someone else who uses your Apple ID on their Apple device, your call logs will be shared. You will see who they have called, and who has called them. Likewise, they will see who you have called, and who has called you.

5) Did You Really Intend for a Family Photo Album?

If you share your Apple ID with someone else who uses your Apple ID on their Apple device, any photos that they take will appear on your device, and any photo that you take will appear on their device(s).Throw privacy out the window. ANY picture (or video) you take, will be shared with whoever uses your Apple ID. Likewise, ANY picture (or video) they take, will be shared with you.

6) What Happens if You and Your Significant Other Split Up?

Unfortunately, divorce happens. Relationships can break apart, and when they do, you have to ask yourself who gets to keep the Apple ID? There is no way to take content from one Apple ID and merge it with another Apple ID.  Be wise and create your own Apple ID.  It literally only takes a few minutes to create one, and it will prevent you from having to deal with all the headaches that it will cause, and perhaps even heartache.

7) You Can’t Prevent Your Shared Apple ID Password From Being Reset

Now, let’s think about this for a moment.  Let’s say that you share an Apple ID with your best friend, and for some reason that relationship is severed. In spite, the other person could change the Apple ID password which would prevent you from being able to access Apple services like the App Store, iTunes Store, iCloud, iMessage, the Apple Online Store, FaceTime, and more. For that matter, this scenario could even happen amongst family members who share the same Apple ID.

What is the Difference Between ‘Family Sharing’ and Sharing an Apple ID?

To begin, and Apple ID was never intended to be shared with anyone. Family Sharing, however was designed with family sharing in mind.  With Family Sharing, you and up to five other family members, can share services like Apple Books, an Apple Music family plan, App Store purchases, and even an iCloud storage plan where each family member get’s their own cloud storage space. 

Every family member can share and contribute to a shared photo album and a family calendar so everyone is informed of any upcoming family events.  After Family Sharing is set up, you can even help locate another family member’s missing devices, like an iPhone or a pair of AirPods.

As if these things were not enough, Apple introduced Screen Time, which allows parents to set limits on what applications and websites their kids have access to, and who has access to them.  You can read more on this subject in an article I wrote entitled, “How to Setup Screen Time for my Family”.

Sharing an Apple ID is so limiting, whereas being part of Family Sharing, allows you to share purchases and services across all of your devices.

Closing Thoughts

As you can guess by now, there really is not a good reason to share an Apple ID.  Setting up Family Sharing is simple and an incredibly powerful tool, while sharing an Apple ID is very limiting, and will definitely lead to regret down the road.  There are just too many down-sides to sharing an Apple ID, especially when Family Sharing does all that sharing an Apple ID does, and a whole lot more, all without the inescapable headache that it will eventually cause.

As such, I would highly encourage you to create an Apple ID for each family member and set up Family Sharing.  It’s a win-win for every family member. 

Tim Chesonis

Tim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.