MacMost Now 729: Sharing iOS Apps With Family

If you have several people in your household and want to share iOS apps between them, you can do it with iTunes Home Sharing. But turning on Home Sharing on each computer, and then authorizing each other to use purchased items from each others' accounts, you can drag and drop apps in iTunes. Then sync with your iOS devices to put those apps on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode I want to show you how to share IOS apps between two users using different Apple IDs.

So say you have two people in your household each has a different Apple ID and you each have your own iPhone or iPad or different IOS device. One of you buys an App at the store and you want to share that with the other person. Now the other person could simply buy that App as well and I'm sure the developer would also appreciate that. But there is also a way to share that App between people in the same household even if they are using different IDs.

So what you are going to do is that you are going to use Home Sharing. This is the same system you would use if you were going to share music between different people in the same household. So this is done on iTunes on your Mac or PC. It is not done directly on the IOS device.

In there you can actually see what Apps you have there. If you have been syncing your iPhone on your desktop you know that you have all of your Apps there as well.

So say I have one of these that I have purchased and I want to share that with one of the other people in my household. There are a couple of steps you need to do.

The first thing you need to do is to turn on Home Sharing. You need to do this for both computers. We go to Advanced and we go to Home Sharing. We are going to enter an Apple ID and password. The idea here is that you are going to use only one Apple ID. It will be kind of an identifier that identifies the Home Sharing network. So, if you have person A and person B in your house you will want to choose say person A and that is the Apple ID you want to use for Home Sharing. You want to enter that Apple ID and password in BOTH computers. So even though person B has their own Apple ID they are using person A's ID for the identifier for Home Sharing. So the two computers now match up and have the same Home Sharing ID.

Now that you have turned on Home Sharing for both computers using the same exact Apple ID I can go to the second computer, say this is person B here, and I can look in their iTunes, I have turned on Home Sharing, and I can see person A's iTunes collection there. It has a little shared house icon there. The house tells you it is Home Sharing rather than regular sharing. I can look in all the different categories by opening this up and click on the app. I can see all the different Apps this person has available including purchased Apps. So let's say that I want to take an App that they have purchased and I want to now put it in my collection. Like here is Pages. I am going to drag Pages over to the library here and that is going to copy Pages. So it is copying it from one computer or one user account on the same machine to the library here. Now if I go over to Apps I can see that Pages now exists in this collection as well.

But you are not quite done yet. What you need to do is your need to authorize this user to use this App purchased by the first.

If you go to the Store Menu you can see "Authorize this computer." Here I can actually enter an Apple ID and password and what I want to do is to enter in the first persons Apple ID and password. So I can actually have my iTunes collection authorized for two Apple IDs, mine and the person I am sharing with.

So for a complete solution you would have Home Sharing for one Apple ID for both people and then authorize each collection for person A and B and for the other one for person A and B as well.

So once you do this you can now copy Apps one by one over to your collection and you can share Apps between two people. They have to be, of course, on the same network since it is Home Share, and you have to have the same Home Sharing ID and authorize each other on each other's iTunes so that you can use Apps that were purchased by one account or the other.

So one important note is that you have to have iTunes running on the first machine in order to see it on the second. Also, it works if you are on the same computer. You have two user accounts. You use fast user switching to go to the second one. Make sure that the first one has iTunes running and the second account will be able to see all the stuff there. This is exactly what I was doing in this tutorial. It is pretty easy to get it going after you do it the first time. You can always see the stuff there. You can bring over apps. Once you have the apps in your own collection you would do the normal thing where you would select to have those synced to your iPhone or iPod Touch or iPad, and that's how you would get them on to the device.

I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 22 Responses to “MacMost Now 729: Sharing iOS Apps With Family”

    7/2/12 @ 11:26 am


    How does this tip work regarding updates? Will the person-1 apps that have been brought over to person-2’s iTunes be updated for person-2 the same way they will for person-1? Or, when things update for person-1, will person-2 then have to re-copy the updated app from person-1’s share?

      7/2/12 @ 12:05 pm

      Not sure. I think it will update normally. But often updates are done directly on the iOS device now anyway.

        Storm Garelli
        7/3/12 @ 12:23 am

        Hi Gary. My related question is… When an App gets updated, and Persons 1 & 2 try to install the updates on their iDevices, will they each be able to use their own passwords? Or will they both have to use Person 1’s password?


          7/3/12 @ 2:49 pm

          Not 100% sure. But it is easy enough to find out when the time comes.

          7/18/12 @ 12:24 pm

          Hey Storm,

          You need to put the password of that account which owns that App, I’m doing this since long and if i update the apps on iPhones then i put that ID’s Password and same if you are downloading the updates on your iTunes.

    7/3/12 @ 6:23 pm

    Each person can update shared apps but the username and password must come from the person that originally purchased the app.

      Storm Garelli
      7/4/12 @ 9:29 am

      Wayne said: “Each person can update shared apps but the username and password must come from the person that originally purchased the app.”

      Yes, I feared that would be the case. In which case, there’s no real advantage in this home sharing tip over & above the even easier method of Person 2 signing into their own iPhone using Person1’s credentials and then looking at the “Purchased” / “Not on this iPhone” list in the App Store app and downloading any of Person 1’s purchased Apps that way.

      (unless I’ve missed something)

        7/4/12 @ 11:27 am

        Signing out and in and out and in can have consequences, as I have heard of a 90-day lockout when you do so. But don’t confuse signing out and in with “authorizing.” You can be signed in as YOU all the time, and then have your Mac authorized as you and your spouse both at the same time and share content. Home sharing allows this and you would only need to download the app once to one account and then it copies from one Mac to the other over your network, not the Internet.

    7/4/12 @ 5:37 am

    Hi Gary, when activating the home sharing feature you are requested to enter Person1’s AppleID and password when launching iTunes in Person2’s computer in order to authorize the latter to use the same contents. Does this mean that a computer can be authorized for two separate AppleID simultaneously? Entering Person1’s AppleID in computer 2 doesn’t prevent you to change the AppleID for the next 90 days?

      7/4/12 @ 5:47 am

      You can have two or more IDs authorized, yes, certainly. That’s how this works, and that’s how Home Sharing works too. It is very common to do it.

        7/4/12 @ 6:32 am

        Thanks for your reply. My question about the 90 days block was referring to the option in iTunes store to keep all your devices (Mac and iOS) synchronized. This seems working only for one AppleID at the same time.

          7/4/12 @ 7:43 am

          That 90 days thing is if you log out of your iTunes account, then log into another to download something. Authorizing is not that — you aren’t logging out and logging back in again.

    7/5/12 @ 8:49 am

    Geat information. Will this work to share iDVD with another Mac in my home?

    James M. Gross
    7/5/12 @ 9:13 am

    Maybe I missed something.
    When I went into my wife’s account on our shared Mac, I put in my credentials under “Authorize . . . .” Apple said it was already authorized. Next to my name there is only a “Music” icon, not a “Home” for sharing and apps do not show up.

    “Home Sharing” is on in my user ID.

    It appears Apple considers the whole computer “Authorized” and not individual users.

    Being it works for others, I must be doing something wrong. But have not figured it out yet. Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance. BTW your video was very timely.

      7/5/12 @ 9:18 am

      No. iDVD is a Mac app. This is about iOS apps. Totally different.

      James M. Gross
      7/5/12 @ 6:48 pm

      Does anyone have an idea of what I am missing or doing wrong?


    Don N
    7/6/12 @ 5:46 am

    Gary… wife and I both use the same Apple Store ID on different iPads. We both downloaded a free app, but she later paid to upgrade it to get rid of some bothersome advertising. Should we be able to use this technique to upgrade my iPad to the app without advertising?


      7/6/12 @ 6:59 am

      So you made an in-app purchase? In-app purchases should be recognized across all of “your” devices. But I’m not sure on that. Never tested it. Haven’t thought about it. It might depends on how the developer implements it. See if you still have ads. If not, then I guess that in-app purchase is for that device only.

    Ken Ostrander
    10/10/12 @ 12:27 am

    What if you no longer back up to a Mac and only use iCloud for 2 iPhones and an iPad?

      10/10/12 @ 6:44 am

      Backup and sync are two different things. You can backup to iCloud but still sync to your Mac.

    12/27/12 @ 11:02 am

    Will this work for a family of five? We have one laptop(MacPro, Mountain Lion), 3 iPhones, & 2 iPods.

Comments Closed.