Do you share your apple ID with other people in your family – kids, spouse, parents? You should be able to share music and apps within one family, but you don’t want everyone’s contacts, photos, and calendar notifications showing up on your phone – or worse, your text messages appearing on their devices. So here’s how you can still share media, but separate iCloud sharing for privacy.
The Problem – and Two Solutions
Sharing an Apple ID with family members across different devices is great for sharing music and apps, but you run the risk of unintentionally also sharing photos and text messages. But there are two ways to prevent this.
Solution For The Most Privacy
The crucial concept here is that you can use one central Apple ID to share music and apps with the whole family via iTunes, but a separate iCloud account on each device for your other data. Here’s what to do:
First, back up the device by syncing it with your computer. This way, all of your photos, contacts, and calendar settings can be reconstituted if they are lost in the shuffle. After the sync, disconnect the device from your computer.
Next, on each mobile device belonging to your family members, open Settings, then iTunes, then check that the Apple ID is the central one that you all want to share.
Then, still in settings, open iCloud and delete the account. This will only stop iCloud from syncing data. It won’t delete the apps and music shared via iTunes. It will, however, ask you a couple of questions that may sound scary:
- “If you delete your account, all Photostream photos and documents stored in iCloud will be deleted from this iPhone.” This is saying that any photos you have saved in the cloud will no longer be available on this phone. Yes, that’s exactly what you are trying to do. So, click delete. And FYI, you can always go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID to access those documents. And by following these directions for your Mac or your PC, you can access all your Photostream pictures even after they are removed from the device.
- “What would you like to do with the iCloud Safari Data on your iPhone when the account is deleted?” Click “Keep on my iPhone.” Browser data is not the problem; all the messages, calendar notifications and photos are the problem.
Now that the scary warnings are done and the iCloud account is deleted, you can either leave the device off iCloud or create a separate iCloud account. The benefit of the latter is that you can still use the Find My iPhone feature if the device is ever lost. And if it someday becomes a primary device for a child or grandparent, they can back the device up to their own account and keep their data separate.
If you only want to pare down the amount of device cross-contamination, you can enact a simpler solution, which doesn’t require creating a new iCloud account. Note that this solution is not password protected, so your family members could change the settings back and see your messages, calendars, contacts, and photos. But if privacy isn’t a big issue, this solution will stop the unintentional sharing of messages:
Again in Settings, open iCloud and you will see a list of all the data iCloud can sync. Turn off all the items except for Find my iPhone. Then go to Messages and either turn off iMessages or scroll down in Messages and unclick the central Apple ID that’s causing all the confusion. Also go to Facetime and sign out of the Apple ID. Either use another Apple ID or it will use your phone number as your ID.
[Related: How to Find a Lost Cell Phone]