Family Sharing lets up to six family members with separate Apple IDs share apps and media, as well as iCloud storage, photos, a calendar, and locations. It‘s also required for Apple Music family plans. In this article, I will show you How to set up and use Family Sharing with family members on iOS.￼
Organize Your Family
The family organizer sets up and manages Family Sharing and is responsible for all charges incurred. The organizer can specify who is a parent or guardian,
who is just a regular adult, and who is a child.
Warning! A given Apple ID can start or join a family group only once per year.
The organizer can also require that all purchases made by a family member under age 18 must be approved by a parent or guardian (the specific age may vary
by your location).
Family Sharing Requirements
To set up or join Family Sharing, you must use a device running at least iOS 8, 10.10 Yosemite, or iCloud for Windows 4.0.
Apple TV software 7.0 or later (which eliminates the 1st- and 2nd-generation Apple TV models) is necessary to access shared movies.
You also need a credit or debit card on file with Apple ID.
Set Up Family Sharing
To set up Family Sharing:
- Go to Settings > Your Name > Set Up Family Sharing.
- Follow the simple prompts and read the informational tips until the setup process is complete.
You can manage the group in Settings > Your Name > Family Sharing. To add additional family members from this screen:
- Tap Add Family Member and then tap Invite via iMessage, Invite in Person, or Create a Child Account. Follow the onscreen prompts.
- When your family member receives the notification (in iOS or macOS), they must open it and follow the prompts to be added to your family group.
About Child Accounts
In the United States, children under 13 aren’t legally allowed to create online accounts (the law varies by country). You can create an Apple ID for a
child, but it’s important to note that once a child is in a family group, they can’t be removed until they turn 13 (the exact age varies by country); however,
they can transfer to another group, if they are invited to it.
Control Child Purchases
Family Sharing lets you control what purchases are made on a child account:
- Appoint a parent or guardian: The organizer can specify any group member age 18 or over as a parent or guardian who can approve purchase requests. Go
to Settings > Your Name > Family Sharing, tap that person’s name, and enable Parent/Guardian. An adult who isn’t a Parent/Guardian doesn’t need permission
to make purchases, but can’t authorize child purchases.
- Enable Ask to Buy: If a group member is under age 18, the organizer, parent, or guardian can restrict purchases (even free ones) for that person by going
to Settings > Your Name > Family Sharing, tapping that person’s name, and enabling Ask to Buy.
How Ask to Buy Works
Here’s how Ask to Buy works for both parents and children:
- The child attempts to make a purchase or in-app purchase in the App Store, iTunes Store, or Apple Books Store.
- In the Ask Permission alert, the child taps Ask.
- A notification appears on all parent/guardian devices. A parent opens the notification and taps either Decline or Approve. If the parent approves the
purchase, they authenticate with Touch ID, Face ID, or their Apple ID password to complete the purchase.
- The child receives a notification of the decision. If the parent approved the request, the purchase downloads automatically to the child’s device.
If an Ask to Buy request isn’t acted upon within 24 hours, it’s deleted and must be submitted again.
If your child receives an error like “This iTunes account is not set up to use Family Sharing,” try disabling and re-enabling Ask to Buy.
Remove a Family Member
You can remove a family member age 13 or older at any time:
- Go to Settings > Your Name > Family Sharing.
- Tap the family member you want to remove.
- Tap Remove Name .
The removed person immediately loses access to shared purchases, the Family photo album, Family calendar, and everything else Family Sharing entails.
What’s Shared and Not Shared
Family Sharing can be a bit confusing. Here’s a clear list of what’s shared, which you can turn off in Settings > Your Name > Family Sharing:
- Apple media purchases: Accounts linked via Family Sharing share most purchases from the App Store, Apple Books Store, and iTunes Store, including apps,
books, TV shows, movies, and music.
Note: Purchases for Adults and Parents/Guardians work the same they always have, except that the organizer absorbs all charges.
- Apple Music family plans: If you subscribe to an Apple Music family plan, it is shared with your group.
- Apple News+ subscriptions: Subscribers to
can share their subscription.
- Apple TV Channels: If you subscribe to any channels through the TV app, you can also share those with family members.
- Calendar: All Family Sharing members can access a shared Family calendar, which is automatically added to the Calendar app. To show or hide it, open
Calendar, tap Calendars, and either check or uncheck it.
While creating a new event, add it to the Family calendar by tapping Calendar and selecting Family. To move an existing event to the Family calendar, open
the event, tap Calendar, and select the Family calendar.
Tip: Set the default calendar for new events in Settings > Calendar.
- iCloud storage plans: You can share iCloud storage plan space with your family. To do so, go to Settings > Your Name > Family Sharing > iCloud Storage
and tap Let Your Family Know. You’re then prompted to send a message to your Family Sharing members, who then are given the option to join your plan or
to retain their existing plans.
- Locations: By default, group members can see each other and the locations of their devices in the Find My app (see
Use Find My
). Any member can stop sharing their location by going to Settings > Your Name > Find My, and then turning off the Share My Location switch.
- Photo album: Devices in the same Family Sharing group all get access to a shared Family photo album in the Photos app. To view the family’s shared photos,
open the Photos app, switch to the Albums view and tap the Family photo album under Shared Albums.
- Reminders: Group members also get a shared Family reminders list in the Reminders app. Open the Reminders app to add and view reminders on the shared
Not all content sold in Apple’s online stores can be shared with a family.
Items that aren’t shared
- Songs in iTunes Match that weren’t purchased in the iTunes Store
- In-app purchases
hidden by a group member
- Some apps from the App Store—this is left up to each developer
Apple Music Family Plans
, Apple’s streaming music service, syncs your music library and gives you access to millions of songs. But the $9.99 individual membership allows you
to listen on only one device at a time. (Apple also offers an individual student plan for $4.99 per month.) The $14.99 family membership offers unlimited
access from your devices, and lets up to six people share the membership. The catch is that all six people must be in the same Family Sharing group.
To upgrade an individual membership to a family membership:
- Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store.
- Tap your Apple ID, tap View Apple ID, and enter your password or scan your fingerprint when prompted.
- Tap Subscriptions and then Apple Music Membership.
- Select Family.
To change your subscription later, return to the Apple Music Membership screen. Or, to unsubscribe, tap Cancel Subscription here.