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MacMost Now 653: Setting Up Multiple iOS Devices For Messages and FaceTime

If you own multiple iOS devices you may want each one to be able to receive its own messages and FaceTime video calls. This is handy if you have kids with their own iPods or iPads, but they are too young to have their own Apple ID. You need to specify special email accounts to be used by the Messages and FaceTime apps so you can contact that specific iOS device without all of your devices getting the message.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's talk about how to set up Messages and FaceTime if you have multiple iOS devices, each belonging to a different person in your household. So let's say now, after the holidays many members of your family have iPod Touches, iPads or even iPhones and you find that you have one AppleID shared between all of them. For instance kids under 13 can't have an AppleID so they have to share yours. So what happens when they get a Message or a FaceTime video call? Well, since everybody's using the same AppleID all the devices show the incoming Message. But there's a way you could set it up so that each device has its own address, phone number really, where Messages and video calls can go to. The way they do this is to set up individual email addresses. Now the other family members may already have their own email address and if they don't you should be able to get a free one very easily setting it up, say a Gmail or some other free service. Once everybody has their own email address you can then go into the settings on the iOS device and set up Messages and FaceTime so they receive Messages at that specific email address. Let me show you. Now, I'm going to demonstrate using my iPad and let's say this iPad is being set up for another family member, say, a child in your family and you want to be able to reach them via FaceTime for this iPad but they don't have their own iCloud account. So we're going to go into settings and then click on FaceTime. And you can see I already have FaceTime set up with an AppleID so let's suppose that's your AppleID and you can see it automatically added "You can be reached for video calls at:" and that email address there. So this may be the same email address used on all your devices, thus being the problem that video call will then go to all those. But you can add another email and this is where you would add a unique email address that's only for this one device. So, say, you might wanna, if you have your own domain name, call it ipadnumber2@YourDomainName or set up a special email account or if this is for, say, a child and they already have an email address maybe just use their email address even though it's not an iCloud ID. So I've got some demo email addresses set up and I'll use one of those. And when I hit return it's going to say "Verifying" and then I have to go to my email account. It could be on this device, it could be on a computer, it doesn't really matter. You have to check that email address and you will get an email that says "Please verify the contact address with Apple" and it basically has a link. Click on that link and that verifies it. So I've done that in my email client on my computer and it'll ask to verify the email address; "Please sign in with your AppleID and password". So I want to use that same AppleID, in this case the "ipadexample" AppleID. And once I sign in with that it'll show me on my computer that it's verified. And then I'll see it suddenly appear there, you can see it changed "Verify" to "Email". So now when I try to FaceTime somebody who's tutorial1@MacMost.com, this iPad will suddenly come on and show there's a FaceTime call but not any of my other iOS devices. Now the same, exact thing can be done for Messages here. So, for Messages here, I haven't even signed in with my AppleID so I'll do that... and now you can see, this is the same thing with FaceTime, it will actually ask you "People will Message you using your email address. Which one would you like to use?". So I can actually, instead of saying, don't even use this one, instead use that same email address I verified already. And since I already verified that, I won't need to do that again. Now you can see it looks a little different here, under Messages. It shows that I'm only going to receive at that one. So you can go either way here. I like the idea of having your iCloud email address basically ring or Message all of your devices that you own and having each device have its own individual second email address. That way if you need to reach somebody on any of the devices you can use that one and if you need to just reach somebody at a specific device with a Message or video chat you can use the email address associated specifically with that device. Now this method isn't without its quirks. For instance, I've heard that sometimes you need to sign out of your AppleID on the Messages or FaceTime apps and then sign back in again for it all to work. So keep playing around with it if it doesn't work for you right away. And remember to check for those verification emails. If you don't get those and don't click on the link in them, then this entire thing won't work; it has to be a verified email address of that AppleID in order for it to be used in Messages or FaceTime. So, I hope you found this useful, until next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

53 Responses to “MacMost Now 653: Setting Up Multiple iOS Devices For Messages and FaceTime”

  1. Vlad Sinayuk says:

    Thanks for sharing this method. I have an alternative method for setting Up multiple iOS Devices for Messages and FaceTime: Create a new Apple ID for the person in your household who will be using that device. Then, use that Apple ID just for Message and FaceTime on that device. You can still use your Apple ID for everything else on that device, including iCloud and iTunes Store. With this method, you don’t have to worry about the other person’s device “ringing” when you have a message/call coming in and you’re in different locations. Yet, you are still enjoying the benefits of the single Apple ID for all iTunes purchases. I also like seeing all my iOS devices in a single iCloud account. However, if you are short of space on iCloud, or wish to sync content from the other person’s device that is different from yours, you can use the new Apple ID for iCloud as well. It is no problem to use the old Apple ID for iTunes Store and the new one for iCloud. I do believe that my method is best for operating FaceTime and iCloud on two different Macs as well, but I haven’t thought this one through all the way. If you have, I think that it’s worthy of a separate video podcast. I wish that Apple would provide documentation on this. It is critical for operating a multiple iOS device household such as ours.

    • The problem with this method is that you need to be 13 or older to have an Apple ID. So this won’t work for anyone trying to set up iOS devices for their kids. And that seems to be the main need for this technique.
      With this technique you don’t need to worry about other devices ringing either. Just all use different email addresses for Messages and FaceTime, and no one uses the shared Apple ID for that.

    • JMcElroy says:

      Thank you this is exactly the answer I was looking for; I’m currently operating my children’s iPod Touches under my AppleID as I want full control of what is coming in & going out on these devices. My oldest child has an email address, but I’m not crazy about flashing it around to anyone who isn’t family, even Apple (I monitor all of that as well. I hear cyberspace can be dangerous ;-) ). I was having a hard time confirming if I could do what you described. And now I can make a better choice knowing all my options.

  2. Vlad Sinayuk says:

    Thanks Gary! Since our kids are too small to “own” their own iPods/iPads, I mainly wanted to differentiate those used by my wife and those that I used. What do you think about my question regarding using Facetime on different Macs. Would your approach still be the best?

  3. Tim T says:

    Thanks, this worked great on my iPad 2 and Mac Book Pro. I now have separate addreses on each platform.

    However, there was no Facetime icon on my iPhone 4, and a Search did not produce the app on either the iPhone or iTunes. I’d used it in the past, and my wife’s iPhone 4 has the icon. Any ideas on the absent app?

    • Are you using the most recent version of iOS?

      • Tim T says:

        Thanks for your prompt reply. I learned from an Apple Genius that the iPhone doesn’t have a separate icon on the desktop. Rather it’s a button in Contacts, on each contact’s page, as opposed to the icons on the iPad and Mac Book Pro. Consistency would have been nice.

  4. nazeema aslam says:

    i got an problem on my ipone4 i got apple care support assistant and they sent me a new phone but now my sim is telling bloccked please enter pin number but ther no any way to type the pin code what to do plese help me

  5. Donna Dattilo says:

    How do I stop the same email from going to multiple divides, iPhone, iPad and laptop. Once I read it I want it deleted from all.

    Thank you

  6. Foo Chee Hoe says:

    thanks Gary – so far you’re the one who provided the vital clue – We need to resign back in with the Apple ID to make this work. Thanks. I love your excellent work with Apple gadgets

  7. Clarke says:

    Thanks for the advise, however! I am now able to FaceTime with my wife’s iPod touch, but it will not allow me to iMessage. When I try to set up the account at iMessage using the same e-mail it tells me that the address is already in use. Please help!

    • A message like that would only come up if you were trying to create a new account to use with Messages. So proceed through the setup carefully and don’t create a new account, but just set it to use an existing email address.

      • Clarke says:

        Thanks for the reply but it still won’t work! FaceTime is still good but not messages.

        • Nothing you can do but check and re-check your settings again. Check carefully Try removing that email address from it, and adding it back again. If you still can’t get it to work, maybe a visit to the Genius Bar where you can have an expert check too.

  8. Ken says:

    I tried to set up a new apple Id and use this to log into FaceTime but when trying to use the new apple id the ipad keeps telling me that I have been logged out of FaceTime as I changed my password. FaceTime works fine when I use the previous apple id but won’t let me switch to a new id………….completed all the verification and settings steps and even have iCloud on the new id but FaceTime won’t switch…….any tips?

    • Having a second Apple ID is not a good idea. It can lead to complications. Just use your main Apple ID. You can set FaceTime to use any email address you want. The email address you use for incoming calls doesn’t have to be the one used as your Apple ID account email.

  9. Jason says:

    How do I change the number associate with my iMessage? My wife and I somehow are sharing each others phone number on iMessage

  10. melanie day says:

    My kids are getting ios devices for Christmas and I want to make sure I set them up properly. I listened to your video tutorial on setting up multiple devices. I just have a couple of questions. Is using my Apple ID for their devices the best thing to do or should I go ahead and set them up with their own Apple ID? I will set up an e-mail address for them just as you said to do but, should it be an iCloud address or any e-mail will serve the purpose? What would be the advantage of setting up an iCloud e-mail address and does each iCloud e-mail address have its own Apple ID associated with it? Thank you!!!

    • If they are under 13, then they are not eligible for an Apple ID/iTunes/iCloud account. You’ll have to set them up as your devices. Maybe get them an email address of Gmail or some other service you like.
      If they are over 13, then you should get them their own accounts. Each account comes with its own email address (you can have aliases, but they are the same account).

  11. Kristen says:

    My son operates his 4th gen iPod Touch on an AppleID I created for him so I could monitor his account and set parental controls. My mother in-law just bought an iPhone; not sure what model. My son logged into his apple account from her phone to load a song from his iTunes account. Now when his friends Facetime him their messages are appearing on my mother in-law’s phone. Is it because the email setting on her phone is the same as my sons? Can you give me some possible scenarios and ways to fix this?

    • Go into the Settings, Messages. Remove his email address from there. You may also want to check everywhere else to see where else he may have added his email: iCloud, Mail, FaceTime, iTunes & App Stores, Music, Videos, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

      • Greg Dryer says:

        I have a simlar problem. My messages are appearing on all associated devices. Is there a way to prevent them from signing in with my itunes account and seeing all my messages? Do I have to get in to each of their devices to turn messaging off? Can they just turn it back on again?

  12. Kristen says:

    Thank you Gary! I appreciate your response.

  13. Menthia says:

    OMG I have been looking for this for over a month now. I could not find an answer so clear and one that works. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

  14. Teresa says:

    When I go to verify the new address I tried to add it says unable to verify email because its already in use. I’m not sure why it says that. I just set the account up and I verified it.

  15. Michele says:

    This helped alot! My son just got an iTouch today and I was getting all his Facetime on my iphone. He now has his own user name under my email so I was able to fix his settings with his new email. Now we can facetime each other if needed. Thanks!!

  16. Diana says:

    When the I-Pod was turned on for the first time, it instructs you to put in the Apple ID. I put my mac account id and should have put my childs individual account. Because of this the 1Cloud is mine instead of our childs own account.

    Second problem is that our child is also having trouble connecting to anything Apple, as in the store or the Cloud for the my account. This problem might be fixed if we can resolve problem #1.

    • Not exactly sure what the problem is. You entered the wrong Apple ID? So, change it. The Apple ID is used in many places, so go into the place where you want to change it (App Store app, iTunes app, Settings > iCloud, etc) and change it.

  17. Samantha DiMaggio says:

    My daughter got an ipod touch for christmas. We share my apple account so I can control what she buys, etc. The problem is last night when I synced my daughters ipod to our home computer all of my apps from my iphone went on to her ipod touch. How do I stop this from happening? I use to be able to put only the apps I wanted on the devices I wanted. Is that still possible? thanks!!!

    • You probably have the “sync new apps” setting turned on. Sync again, go to the Apps screen for that device, and look for the checkbox.

  18. Britany says:

    What if you have multiple iPhones on one Apple ID? I recently purchased an iPad, but the phone # associated with my iPad in iMessage and FaceTime is another family member’s rather than mine.

  19. Betty says:

    My photos are appearing on another family member’s I-Phone. How can I delete the photo stream from that phone and keep this from happening everytime we sync that phone?

    • Is your problem Photo Stream? You’ve go to go into Settings on that iPhone and log out of iCloud.
      But you also mention syncing, which is something else. Does that phone sync to your computer?

  20. Lara says:

    A year ago I established a personal Apple ID (ID#1) which I associated to my primary email. Since then, my family agreed to share a single ID (ID#2) to manage purchases, etc. When I try to add to/verify my primary email to iMessage for ID#2, I receive an alert “unable to verify. email already in use”. Is this because it is tied to ID#1? Do I need to delete ID#1 or dis-associate the primary email from it? If so, how would I take either action?

    • Right. If you associate an email address with one ID, you cannot then associate it with another. Having multiple Apple IDs for you is a problem. You’ll probably need to talk to someone at Apple to sort it out. The best way to use Apple IDs is to have one for each adult. One and only one.

  21. Brent says:

    So my iPad list my wife’s phone number and my email under the “where you can be reached at” area. I want to add my phone number, how do I do this? I see where you can “add an email address” but there isn’t an “add a phone number” option. Where do I go to do this.

    • You can’t. The phone number there is the phone number of the iPhone. You can’t add a phone number that doesn’t belong to the phone.

  22. beth says:

    We have a shared .mac (now iCloud) account for our iPhones/ipad which we like because we like all of our family photos to be in the same photo stream. The issue is that our phones call us the same name! Creating a second icloud acct with their own contact card doesn’t seem to solve this. Any ideas? Photo stream only works with the “main” account…

    • Sharing an iCloud account will give you all sorts of problems. This is just one of them. You should have separate ones, but if you have been using a single account for a while then there will be trouble in the conversion too.

  23. Kjell says:

    This works, but only one way. I can make a call from my iPad to the phone, but when I try the other way it rings once and then busy signal. Suggestions?

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