522: iCloud Family Sharing

Whether or not you’re using iCloud Family Sharing, buying iTunes Gift Cards at a discounted price can save a lot of money in the long run.

I stock up on iTunes Gift Cards at Costco when they go on sale for 20% off (the normal price is 10% off). I always use my account credit when paying for iCloud storage, Apple Music, apps, movie rentals/purchases, and Apple News+, so I effectively get a 20% discount on everything.

Speaking of Apple News+, I’ve been subscribing since this service first launched. I’m not sure I would pay for a subscription if I were the only one using it, but being able to make it available to everyone in the family makes it a much more compelling purchase. And I appreciate being able to read articles that would otherwise be paywalled.


I have to argue that Apple Music recommendation is not good at all like it was argued as on the show.

I had used Spotify since it came to the states but my biggest issue was its library management especially since I had a decent sized local library and integrating the two never seemed really be a thing. That said especially in the past 3 or 4 years Spotify’s discovery playlists are amazing. I found so much interesting music that neither I nor my friends could find.

That said I always was enticed by Apple Music and its ability to integrate my actual local library with their streaming service along with better library management. I’ve been using iTunes since it came to Windows so was just used to how it worked. I made the switch and while I like that I’ve merged the local library with streaming library its discovery playlist it generates for me is truly horrible with very little being things I’d be interested in.

Sometimes I’ll open up Spotify for the discovery playlist and its much better at suggestion music that I’d even listen to without skipping.

My husband & I listened to this episode at lunchtime yesterday, then also happened to watch "Doctor Strange " with our son last night. So we caught this quote from the movie, too, which afforded my husband an opportunity to brag to our son about having played the flugelhorn performing this very piece, and then to expand on how flugelhorns tend to go sharp in the upper register, etc. Small world :blush::heart:

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About a year ago when my mother-in-law came to celebrate my son’s 13th birthday, my husband and I got them both their first iPhones, appleIDs, set up family sharing. Prior to that we had reconfigured our cellular plan to optimize for the family, so that we could invite grandma to join the family, explaining that it was no additional cost (or very little).

Family sharing has worked beautifully, not least from a family tech support perspective, with the iPhone performing as trojan horse. That is, now that grandma has had a year of enjoying face time and shared albums, we are (next week) going to enact phase II, which is to introduce a cellular iPad and then, “fade” the windows machine… I have read reports from others on this forum who have successfully switched their parents to iPads, and inspired by their example, enabled by the brilliance of family sharing, we aim to do the same!

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Having all app purchases in a family come from one card is a good option for those who want to do it that way.

It’s not good that it’s the only option.

Case in point: I’m in a family group with my parents; I’m the organizer. I can share my subscriptions: Apple TV+ (I bought a device this year), CBS All Access, BritBox, and Apple News+. That’s great.

But I can’t turn on purchase sharing, because if I do, my parents will have to ask me if they can buy an app.

I can see limiting a family group to two adults so that people don’t abuse the system. That’s fair.

But you’d think Apple could figure this out. Amazon figured out long so that families might have two adults who each want to pay their own bills — and be able to buy without asking permission.


Beware, while it has improved tremendously over time, if you have a really old AppleID it could pose a bit of a problem - especially if you are the one who is going to be the manager. My original AppleID, still in use with iTunes (shared for years with my now college-aged son) is NOT an email address.

Yes, way back in the early years of Apple’s online services your AppleID didn’t have to be an email address. There is no “@” in mine, no me, mac, or iCloud.com. It took an escalated service call to sort it out when we decided to go to Family just about a week ago. :slight_smile:

@MacSparky you and Stephen may not be old enough to have experienced this. :wink:


Looking at the settings I think you would make them Parent/Guardian AND they can have credit on their own accounts (it might need to be gift card balances even though individual accounts still want credit cards for verification purposes).

If their proper ages are in there for their own accounts and they are marked as Parent/Guardian they shouldn’t have requests go out to anyone when they want to buy. That’s how my husband is set up on mine and I don’t get requests from him.

I don’t know what OS versions this is true for. I’m on Catalina looking at this.

I do agree that it’s not great that it’s the only option. My husband had the storage and it immediately switched to me paying for it because he doesn’t have any credit in his account at the moment, just a credit card he had the expense going to.


Thanks — and that’s the catch: they’d have to use a gift card, rather than their credit card, and that’s a hassle. A credit card is just so much easier. (But yes, I’d forgotten that they wouldn’t actually have to ask permission, since I’m sure they entered their correct ages when setting up their IDs.)

Wanted to add on a point. I’ve had my parents on family sharing for a while. One other limitation of sharing is that because they live in another country they are unable to share purchases, while still being able to share storage. This was the case when I looked into it a year or two ago. Not sure if the limitation still exists, but I’d guess that it does. I hope they remove that limitation. I’m guessing that this will also affect any kids in family sharing that move out of the country.

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Wow, finally setup with myself and my daughter frustrating but mainly setup I think. Wrote something up on my experience.

I can see iTunes purchases now on the family member device but not within the TV app? I can only download from the iTunes app and can’t stream from there. Anything I’m not understanding here?

OneDrive is great for us! I pay for Office365 and my family uses OneDrive for all our storage needs. Works great!

I have similar Apple id and I refuse to enter an email address when iTunes asked for it. It still allow me to login but it does nag when I go to check my account details. I’m just being nostalgic about having a unique (or is it legacy?) Apple ID.

iCloud Family Sharing is such a wonderful suite of services these days…my pre-teen is not so keen on the Screen time controls, but hey? “None of my friends have Screen time control Dad!”

I’m actually surprised at how many other parents I talk to haven’t bothered to set this all up and either:

  • don’t share purchases, or they all use the same iCloud account and NONE of their personal contacts and preferences are separated!?!
  • don’t enjoy the peace of mind of visibility to everyone’s locations
  • don’t have the wonderful granularity of screen time for their kids – it’s truly relieved as of so many arguments over how much time has really been spent on devices.

What is still very cumbersome to me is In-App purchases. I’m all for paying for these and subscriptions myself for apps I heavily use, but if I just want the family to take advantage of many of these I can’t fathom paying for them another 1–4 times.

So I do the dance of:

  1. logging out of their iCloud account in the App store
  2. logging in as mine
  3. installing the app
  4. restoring purchases
  5. either leave it logged in for convenience or sometimes log back in to their personal account until the next time.
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I had the same thing with my Apple ID. I was able to keep it for a long time, but a couple of years ago Apple forced me to change it to an email address.

Maybe I missed it but was there a recommendation on which account to use as the primary if you have a three account setup? As an example you may have two personal account (contacts, calendar, photos, etc) and one account that the media was purchased under. Dos it matter if you use one of the personal accounts or the media account as the primary?

It depends on the kind of listener you are, at least that’s my experience. I’ve used both Apple & Spotify, and I find I much prefer Apple Music. Spotify certainly has better playlists and music discovery, so I liken it more to a radio station. You don’t really know what specific song is coming next, but if you’re on the right channel you’ll almost certainly like what’s coming.

If you have a big music collection or you know what you want to hear though, Apple Music wins. For starters, I can (easily) upload my own music. Then, once I’ve added my own music/Apple Music to my library, it stores it in a logical fashion, by artist and then by album. On Spotify, if I go to Led Zeppelin, it just shows me a list of every song by Led Zeppelin and seeing the albums individually isn’t as easy. Even more puzzling, if I add Led Zeppelin to my music library and go to “Artists” on the Spotify website, it doesn’t show me Led Zeppelin at all - instead it opts to only show me artists who I “follow” on their social media type-deal.

I’ve long said Spotify is for people who like playlists and listening to singles, while Apple Music is for people who are more interested in artist/album breakdown and who have many albums they want to add to the service that may not exist there already (odd singles, rare albums).

Too often the “Spotify is better” argument comes down to their playlists, but playlists are only a small fraction of what makes up a good music service. To me anyway.

The thing is I am someone with a huge personal music collection and generally know of a lot of music but as I’ve grown older my time spent going to shows has lessened as has my sources of what’s new and upcoming. The reason I ultimately settled on AM v Spotify is because I can do that integration.

That said the loss of Discovery Weekly is huge. Every week I’d spend an hour or two listening and marking songs I like in its own separate playlist to further listen to and ultimately check out their discography.

I can see if you’re someone who is only into old stuff, like Led Zeppelin, how discovery playlist is this thing you scoff at but as someone who still is interested in other stuff out there than what you liked as a teenager, using AM algorithm to discover that is a huge step back from Spotify.

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I have a question regarding iCloud Family sharing. My wife and I both have an individual iCloud storage of 200GB each. We have reached our limit, mostly consumed by Photos.

Now I plan to upgrade to 2TB and invite my wife into the family plan. My question is - how can I move her photos in iCloud into the family storage? Currently her iPhone contains “lower quality photo” due to the settings in the phone to keep smaller and lower quality photo while iCloud has the full resolution. If she leaves her individual iCloud storage and join mine, I suppose iPhone will upload those photos on the phone back into iCloud but those are of lower quality. What can we do?

I don’t think it works like that , her photos don’t move it’s just the storage available increases.

We share 200gb (at the moment) and when I swapped it the others accounts just carried on in the same way.

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