Switching to Family Sharing. Downsides?

Why now? Family Plan seems to allow tracking multiple devices with [FindMy](What is Family Sharing? - Apple Support), We both temporarily lost our iPhones at a different time in the last month which was the wake up to make me consider this. And we’re going overseas in a month.

Current status:

We use a shared AppleID for purchases. Music and Apps. I did this (ten?) years ago and IIRC that was the only way to do share purchases. That ID is linked to a personal domain email.

Both have AppleIDs and each have several devices (iPhone, MBP, iMac). My ID is a me.com email, but my email is mainly on personal domain. Her ID uses her email on our personal domain.

We have an AppleTV and two HomePods. AppleTV uses shared ID. HomePods respond to both of us (more or less).

Although we can share apps this way (most allow a few users anyway), we probably don’t really use each others apps enough to matter. In other words if app sharing depends on that common ID we could give it up. 1Password is a family subscription, so I assume it doesn’t depend on this shared ID. The two other subscriptions are not used by my wife.

But we do share music. We buy some music, but we have a pretty eclectic collection and much of it from DVDs which we access using iTunes Match. We listen on the HomePods and iPhones in the car.

She uses Photos, but downloads iPhone photos manually to Albums. My iPhone photos are downloaded to my computer via Mylio. I also download photos manually on my computer to Mylio. So I don’t care about what happens to my Photos’ photos

I use iCloud 200GB account that I’ve been using for my Documents folder.

Plan to add some AirTags to the mix.

What will the downsides or gotchas of adding a Family Plan? A challenge may be to move our current shared iCloud account purchases to one of our iCloud accounts.

(I now also see Apple One, but that’s essentially a package of services which at present doesn’t impact us. We’re only using iCloud+. Might use Music in the future. Apple TV+ maybe. I only put this in here since it’s part of the Apple service possibilities and it’s hard to keep track of all of them.)

1 Like

As I understand it (and people should feel free to correct me if something here is wrong):

  • When family sharing is turned on, purchases still belong to the individual accounts that made them.
  • Content purchased by any family member can be downloaded/installed by any other family member.
  • There must be a single shared credit card associated with the family’s main account, which will be billed when any account in the family makes a purchase.
  • Moving purchases between accounts might be possible for Apple support to do, but you definitely can’t do it yourself. You’d probably be better off to simply let someone in your family claim that account as his/her own and let everybody else work with other family accounts. It would certainly be easier.
1 Like

With the shared purchases option turned on, yes, but with the exception of in-app purchases and subscriptions. Those may be shared among the family, but it’s up to the developer. Lots of apps are free to download and add functionality with in-app purchases. Among my subscriptions, Hello Weather and Tweetbot can be shared with all family members.

There must be a single shared credit card associated with the family’s main account, which will be billed when any account in the family makes a purchase.

I’m not 100% sure about this one. That is definitely true if you have shared purchases on (again, that’s an option), but I think if you turn that off, then each account can have its own payment method. In our family sharing group of four, I do have shared purchases on, as I mentioned above, but I don’t want to turn it off to test what happens, so I can’t say for sure.

One other thing that can/probably will be shared is the 200 GB iCloud storage plan. Each person in the family could have their iCloud storage moved to your shared 200 GB bucket, though, again, sharing iCloud+ is an option you could turn off if you wanted to.

Thank you for the comments. No problem for us with single credit card. Moving the purchases from our current purchases ID to the one we’ll use for Family Sharing will be the problem I think. I’ll have to risk it with Apple support. I say risk because something unexpected may happen.

I won’t be able to report on the outcome soon, because we’re taking a long overseas trip soon and I’m not about to make changes now.

OT: I’m busy enough with a new iPhone (my X was having issues) signing into newspaper and magazine subscriptions and accepting or rejecting notifications. I did a clean install in case the old phone problem was software related. Three days in, appears to be hardware since the non-responsive touch screen issue hasn’t happened.

PS: On reflection Apple One makes no sense for us now.

I do not believe even Apple Support can or will do this. If you have an ID that you use for purchases, you’ll have to make that ID a member of your family. (My family now has four “members” – myself, my spouse, my older kid, and the AppleID I’ve used for many purchases over the years.)

I think this goes back to legal issues. Apple’s contracts with the labels dictate that digital purchases must be non-transferable. If you could transfer purchases, even within a family group, you could work around this limitation that Apple is legally obligated to enforce.

(I would be delighted to be wrong about this – I’d love to be able to move everything so I could consolidate my two Apple IDs – but I’m almost certain that it’s not possible.)


@dave6 Wonderful solution. Tidbits followers to the rescue. I realized my question was narrow and complicated and wasn’t too optimistic about finding such an elegant solution. I would have tried Family Sharing before if I was smart enough to come up with this solution.

Do you pay attention to which user makes the purchases? Or everyone does there own and can share as needed?

We don’t pay particular attention to who makes which purchases, no. I’m actually split across both of my Apple IDs. The old one I use for iTunes media and iOS application purchases (since it was what iTunes was set to when all this started), and the new one I use for my relatively rare MacOS app store purchases (since when the MacOS app store was created, I was hoping to be able to standardize on just the new AppleID). Sharing has generally worked well for the stuff we want to share.


So it just works. Thank you.

I may go ahead since this doesn’t have any of the complications of trying to merge purchases or accounts.

Update: Added FindMy from my AppleID. Invites crashed the Macs when tried to accept. What worked was to use in person option (means they are sitting with you) and you fill in their ID and password. As usual the Apple syncing is slow (hours) so changes may not be reflected on all devices quickly. But FindMy works—can see other devices and play a sound on them (except if ringing is off). Haven’t checked out shared purchases yet but no app has quit working.

We are all-in on family sharing, as in App Store purchases and each person having a separate Apple ID.

My downsides:

  • some in app purchases/subscriptions don’t share
  • some in app purchases/subscriptions are pricier for families
  • AirTags don’t work with family sharing
  • only the organiser gets invoices. Sometimes it is unclear from invoices, what a charge is for, and who bought that item.

Other things:

  • everyone has their own music library
  • everyone has their own photo library
  • everyone “needs” their own AirPods
  • after switching to family sharing, some people’s devices may still have apps linked to the previous shared Apple ID. So sometimes the App Store app updates are interrupted because the device wants the password of a different account. Especially notable after restoring a device. Sometimes the password dialog box is unclear which account it wants. Solution is to delete that app and redownload using the users own Apple ID.

Chik. Thank you. Appreciate the details.

Without Family Sharing we share subscriptions to several newspapers; I hope that doesn’t change. Edit: LATimes seems to share. Update: that was not a subscription through Apple.

AirTags is a bummer—if a suitcase goes missing on a trip, one doesn’t need more barriers to finding out where it is. They should work just like devices. But maybe Apple is still hesitant because of the privacy/tracking issues.

We’re used to unclear invoices. (Amazon invoices tell you little, and they know everything we buy and probably what we were thinking about when we bought it!)

You may be confusing their invoice with their e-mail confirmation.

Amazon’s e-mail confirmations don’t say much more than an order number and a price (and a link to bring you to the order). And if circumstances change (shipment delayed, price change on a pre-order, order split into multiple shipments, etc), they don’t always send e-mail updates.

But that e-mail is not the invoice. If you visit your order page (either from the web site or via the link in the e-mail), there’s a link in the upper-right corner labeled “View or Print Invoice”. If you click that, you will see the full invoice (preliminary before the order ships, finalized after it ships and payments clear).

The invoice lists every item ordered, including the price, seller name and condition. It groups them by shipment (if they didn’t all ship at once), shows the shipping date for each, and the ship-to address for each (very useful for gift orders). The payment section of the invoice includes the merchandise total, shipping charges, taxes, and a date-stamped list of charges billed to you card (very important if different items are billed at different times).

I wish every business had invoices this detailed.

1 Like

I misspoke (miswrote?). It’s the credit card statement tied to the Amazon account that is uninformative.

The purchase record is thorough at Amazon. As I said, they know too much.

I agree completely about that. We buy a lot of stuff through Amazon, and everything is listed as “amazon.com”, “amzn mktp us” or “amzn digital”. Each of these is followed by a “*” and a string of characters that appears to be a unique identifier, but that identifier isn’t anything I can use to look up a purchase.

So every month, I need to manually reconcile my invoices (by date and price) against the credit statement, which can sometimes be pretty tricky, especially with:

  • Pre-orders. They don’t always ship when originally planned, and the price sometimes changes between the order-date and the ship-date (their price-protection policy means that you pay the lowest price between the order date and the ship date).
  • Combining orders. Sometimes two or more orders (that ship from the same depot on the same date) may be combined into a single invoice and therefore a single charge.
  • Split orders. Sometimes, an order containing multiple items may be split into multiple orders. Or the items may ship on different days, and be billed separately, despite being on the same invoice.
1 Like