Best ways to share Notes, Calendar, and Contacts

At this time, I’m interested in sharing Notes, Calendar, and Contacts with one other person, and in having either person be able to edit information in Notes, Calendar, or Contacts and have the updated information go to the other.

Can Contacts be shared using Family Sharing? The article specifically mentions a calendar and reminders, but doesn’t capitalize them, so I wonder if it means the events associated with Calendar. It doesn’t mention Contacts or Notes at all, upper or lower case.

Much less important but of some interest would be to share music libraries, neither of which contains any material purchased from Apple and each of which probably contains about a thousand songs with 90% overlap. Is this possible?

Thanks for pointers and advice.

I share contacts with my wife by setting up a separate iCloud/apple id that we both log into and then establish the contacts on that. All other contacts are turned off so that we only see the contacts from the 2nd iCloud account and only make changes to that one so it stays up to date. You can’t share contacts with family sharing.

With calendar, I’m not sure if I’m family sharing or just sharing. I tried to set up family sharing but I’m not sure I did it correctly. You are supposed to be able to set up calendars on family sharing. At any rate, set up a calendar on your iCloud account and then click on the broadcast symbol next to the calendar to share it with the person you want to share it with. That is working for us.


Sharing notes for collaboration is very easy, and I cover it in Take Control of Notes. You tap the Share icon in a note and tap Add People.

That works great on iOS Notes, but there appears to be no equivalent on macOS Notes, at least not on Catalina. :confused:

On Catalina, the icon for sharing is the circled person.

On Catalina, Add People has its own icon (a shadowy bust with a plus sign).

Thanks, Gentlemen. I only had a share button (and menu). Had to open up toolbar config to get to that share people icon. Now it works. Thanks. :slight_smile:

OP here. Thank you, all. I failed to state the situation and my desires clearly.

This is motivated by iPhones. We just bought our second iPhone ever. Originally, the thought had been that both phones would connect to the same Apple ID, but that seemed to prevent setting up emergency contacts. (The phone that would list me as an emergency contact would not allow selection of me as a contact, presumably because the phone thought I would be carrying it.) Now we are looking at using two Apple IDs, and that prompted the question about sharing Notes, Calendar, and Contacts.

I hope that is clearer. The question is how to allow each of us to list the other as an emergency contact and still share Notes, Calendar, and Contacts. Failing that, what is the easiest way to duplicate all the Contacts into a second account? Thanks for any help.

I think you can have each phone subscribe to two accounts.

Each phone’s primary account (the one at the root of the Settings app) should be the account for the primary user - the one whose phone number will ring that phone.

For the other account add it to the Passwords & Accounts section as a new account. Enable it for whatever from that account you want to see (Notes, Calendar, Contacts, etc.)

In the respective apps, you’ll see each one as a source:

  • In Notes, the folder list will show you a set of folders for each account
  • In Calendar, you will have access to all the calendars from each account
  • In Contacts, you will see a combined contacts list. You can use the “Groups” button (in the upper-left corner) to choose to show only contacts from one source or the other. You can also use the Contacts settings to choose which will be your “Default Account”, where contacts you create will be stored.

I do this in order to get a combined view of stuff from iCloud, GMail and two other mailboxes. I see no reason why it shouldn’t work with multiple iCloud accounts as well.

Ever since we escaped from “” one of my clients has been repeatedly advised by Apple support that multiple accounts on an iDevice will not work. I point of fact, multiple accounts on an iDevice work fine – assuming the user does not try to “optimize” according to Apple Advice. And, multiple accounts are not limited to just iCloud accounts. I have decades of experience with other email provider accounts co-existing with iCloud accounts.

The first rule Shamino provided is critical. Each primary user of an iPhone or iPad (or macOS) should have a personal iCloud account associated with that device. In the case of an iPhone that includes the appropriate phone number. This all provides correct routing for calls and texts, as well as proper “Find My” device location.

For sharing a common Contacts list, as may be done by a couple, one user must “own” the primary Contacts list. The other user must use a secondary iCloud login with “Contacts” checked and preferably with the primary iCloud “Contacts” unchecked to avoid inadvertent entries in the unused Contact list.

Apple Notes sharing requires all desired sharing users to have their own iCloud account. Any user may create a Note and share it with any other iCloud user.

Mail accounts should be primarily used from the “owned” device. There is no defined limit on the number of additional internet accounts that may be added to each device. But, unless you want to confuse users, for the most part only email should be enabled for the additional accounts.

For some items like Contacts and Calendars, one could choose Exchange or gmail. In most cases it reduces confusion and probability of “lost” data if only one vendor is chosen for these functions. For mostly Apple-centric usage, iCloud should be the choice.

Thank you! That sounds like just what I want.

Thank you for the added detail. Would you explain a bit more what “‘optimize’ according to Apple Advice” means?

It is a mildly sarcastic reference to front line support that may read scripts well but not have any real understanding how macOS and the like actually function. Users with complex problems often receive simplistic solutions based on assumptions about usage requirements of a theoretical customer instance, usually entirely Apple-centric. For example, the stock answer to “How do I share …” is “Family Sharing” which brings a different set of problems.

This behavioral pattern is not peculiar to Apple.

Yes and yes. Thanks again.

Thanks for all the help that has been offered. I have made some progress, but please assume I am completely ignorant and need everything spelled out.

Does this mean the secondary user is logged into iCloud twice, once into the secondary user’s own account and once into the account of the person who owns the Contacts list?

Some help topic had an intriguing suggestion that entire folders of Notes could be shared if the user is running iOS 13. The help topic was silent on the requirement on the Mac side, but (running Mojave) I was unable to take the steps that the help topic implied I would take. My speculation is that Catalina is required to share folders of Notes. Can someone confirm or deny this? I will not install Catalina, but I hope that I can share a folder, because sharing notes one by one is tedious.

And I’m sorry I wasn’t keeping better notes as I flailed and failed while trying to share things, but something (probably Notes) failed silently in every attempt, until I turned on 2FA for the new user. I was pretty disgusted that no help topic I found, in the step-by-step instructions, had hinted that 2FA was required, but after I turned it on, then sharing succeeded. Bad Apple!

Does this mean the secondary user is logged into iCloud twice, once into the secondary user’s own account and once into the account of the person who owns the Contacts list?

Yes. My iCloud account is the one where we keep contacts and calendar events for the household. I am logged into my personal iCloud only. My wife is logged into her personal iCloud as her primary, but is logged into my iCloud as her secondary, and is set up to use iCloud contacts and calendar events only from her secondary (my account).

You can only have one primary iCloud account that’s the one used for things like Find My…, but you can have multiple secondary accounts where you can enable Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders.


Dave describes closely our personal situation as well as that of my clients. His description is a correct exposition.

Thanks, @dave6 and @james.cutler.

It sounds like this work work for Notes and Calendar as well, and then I wouldn’t need to set up sharing for each note and each calendar. Is that right?

My experience is that Notes is a special case. I recommend sharing only one calendar from the owner account shared to partners and a minimum number of notes shared to other iCloud Notes enabled users.

I have laid out plans for client partnerships, but, in every case, the plan was carefully tailored to use case and client personal abilities as computer users.

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OP here, with another requirement that had somehow escaped me. We want to share documents that are in iCloud. As far as I can tell, that’s impossible in the Apple ecosystem. Please (please!) correct me, with details on how to share iCloud files in one Apple ID account with a user logged into another Apple ID account.

If my understanding is correct and files cannot be shared, what do you use to share files? Does it allow either user to edit a file and then make that file available to the other user? Thanks.

For Calendar and Contacts, this works. For Notes, it doesn’t. As far as I can tell, each note must be shared individually. It a huge nuisance, but it appears that the sharing only needs to be done once, so we’ll work through the accumulations of notes. (It’s actually slightly worse, because a shared note appears at the top level on Notes. But the secondary user can move it to a folder, so it’s manageable.) Does someone have a better solution? Thanks.

That’s surprising. Admittedly, I’ve never tried to share two iCloud accounts this way, but I have three e-mail services (Google, and Yahoo) connected to my phone, and Notes is configured to use all three. It sees each one as a separate top-level folder and lets me create/edit notes in each one: