How Family Sharing Really Works: The Ultimate Guide

Family sharing is a handy new feature in iOS 8 that makes it particularly very easy and much convenient for families to share all kinds of content and data. One of the remarkable benefits of using Family Sharing is that everyone in your group can be able to access and exchange each other’s iTunes and App store purchases. This was more likely impossible in the dark days, but now every parent has the liberty to share purchases made in iTunes, the App store and iBooks, including exciting family photo libraries, calendars, purchases restrictions and more.

How Family Sharing Works

Everyone in the group can simply share the data and content purchased through their personal accounts, although each person retains all the authority over their account as an Organizer. Thus, as an Organizer a person is able to grant someone certain privileges and a kind of second-in-command status within their account, by acknowledging them either as a Parent/Guardian. A child’s account is ranked the lowest on the totem pole with little privileges. It can’t be directly linked with any credit card, and all purchases are made through the Organizer’s account. If anyone tries to purchase stuff with a child’s account, the group’s Organizer and anyone labelled as a Parent/Guardian receives an alert, every time a child tries to buy something. Permission to purchase stuff with a child’s account is determined by those in charge. They can either approve or disapprove the purchase at hand, before it goes through normally.

Getting Started

Family Sharing on either an iPhone, iPad or Mac is particularly very easy and requires iOS 8 to work. To set up an iOS device, simply go to Settings> iCloud> Set up Family Sharing. Afterword, you’ll get a brief overview of the feature; after you’re done going through the details, tap “Get Started”. Some series of screen shots will inform you, about your role as an Organizer, and you’ll also be asked to add a valid credit card to your Apple ID for your account to be verified. Although, if you happen to add a child to Family Sharing, please note a debit card won’t work because Apple requires all credit cards to prove, anyone willing to make a purchase from their account is actually an adult. Consequently, after adding a child to the group, you can in turn switch to a debit card as you wish.

More so, to set up Family Sharing using a Mac, first of all, make sure you’re using OS X Yosemite, afterward open System Preferences and click iCloud. Next, click the “Set Up Family” button located in the left column and follow the on-screen instructions carefully. Also worth knowing, the “Set Up Family” button will eventually change to “Manage Family” once you’ve finished with the initial process.

Adding Members

In iOS 8, the predefined list of members you wish to share can be easily managed in Settings> iCloud> Family. Similarly, a new member can be added by simply tapping “Add Family Member” and typing in their personal email address. In case you want to add any child, simply tap “Create an Apple ID for a child” and also set up an iCloud email account and password for the child. On a Mac, simply go to Settings> iCloud> Manage Family and click + button located in the lower-left corner.

That’s it! You’ve successfully set up a group for Family Sharing and good to go. Similarly as you make the most of this little handy feature, you might consider adding some restrictions on your child’s devices to restrict them from accessing any explicit or adult content. To do this simply go to Settings> General> Restrictions on child’s device – and you’d have successfully prevented your child from visiting, even the simplest adult’s content. Otherwise have some thrilling fun accessing all your family’s data and content, without simply having to buy anything more than once!


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9 Responses

  1. Jasmine2015 says:

    I love the idea of family sharing. As a parent, it is important that your child doesn’t accidentally, or purposefully, try to buy stuff on the phone without permission. This could make the phone bill expensive. I know lots of families would appreciate this feature as well.

  2. appdata says:

    I would love to use Family Sharing with my brother so that we can share our apps and purchases, but unfortunately, we can’t set it up. We need a parent with a device that can run iOS 8, but neither of them have one. We also only buy things with gift cards, and a credit card is required to sign up.

    You can still share your purchases without Family Sharing set up. You can simply go into settings, then app store, then sign into the account with the purchases you want. You can then download all the apps that you want. Even when you sign back into your own account, the apps you just downloaded will be there. Alternatively, if you’re just getting into the Apple ecosystem, you can share an account between multiple devices for purchases, and keep separate accounts for email, iCloud and things like that.

  3. jentyree says:

    I use this between my iPhone and my husbands iPad. It allows each of us to buy something, and know that the other won’t have to buy it for their own account. I personally love this. And when I buy my kids an iPad or an iPhone they’ll be able to get added to the account. I love this feature, and I’m glad Apple paid attention to families who needed something like this!

  4. Theonewhoknocks says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I was always intrigued with Family Sharing ever since I upgraded to iOS 8, but I just never got around to setting it up with my family. My only concern about this feature would be my privacy, since I don’t really want all of my purchases to be known by my family members. Maybe I’ll try playing around with Family Sharing to see if there is a way to not really share all of my info to my family members. Nonetheless, this would be a really great advantage for me to be able to connect with my family, especially since all of us have iPhones.

    • Vari says:

      This is my exact same concern! Although family sharing would generally improve my family’s iOS experience, there are some purchases that I don’t want my younger siblings to be able to access. For instance, if I downloaded an R-rated film on my iPad, how hard would it be for one of my little brother to download that same film on his iPad? I will have to look further into this.

  5. Diane Lane says:

    This is very informative. When I read the phrase ‘family sharing’, I thought the sharing would be related to those on a cellular family plan, but it appears that this could be used similarly to Facebook groups, with one or two people functioning as Administrators. If that’s true, this has larger repercussions for groups other than actual families, and could be useful for various purposes where sharing of apps, photos, etc. would be helpful.

  6. AshwinMahesh says:

    I am not a regular user of Family Sharing feature in iOS8 but I would like to know how this has been improved (if at all) in iOS9. I recently upgraded to iOS9 on my iPad so would like to hear more about the latest version. Thank you for posting this information.

  7. anjam says:

    I think that family sharing is very important if you like to keep in touch with other family members

  8. NickJonathan98 says:

    Thank ou very much for posting such a great tutorial. I have been using Apple devices for quite a while and never really bothered to use ‘Family Sharing’ feature that got introduced in iOS 8. I purchased an iPhone 5 for my brother a couple of months ago and he’s currently under 18 so he can’t really purchase anything from App Store without using my credit card. I guess this won’t be a problem now with Family Sharing. Great guide, once again.

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