Our Guide to Apple’s Family Sharing

What Is Family Sharing and Why You Should Set It Up

In order to take full advantage of Apple’s Screen Time functionality, parents must set up Family Sharing. The main benefits of Family Sharing include:

  • The ability to manage Screen Time from your phone
  • Paying just once for content purchased or downloaded through the iTunes or App Store (you can transfer it to other family members)
  • Knowing where your family members are (at least the location of their devices)
  • Requiring your approval before your child can download any app (this is the Ask to Buy feature)
  • Access to Apple Music’s Family Plan

Children are required to have their own Apple ID and for children under 13, an Apple ID can only be created once Family Sharing has been set up.

An Apple ID:

  • Creates a free email address which can be used to send and receive messages in iMessage, emails in Mail and calls in FaceTime 
  • Is required to set up iCloud (to store and back up data) and download from the iTunes and App Store
  • Keeps downloads and purchases made in the App and iTunes Store separate from other family members
  • Associates Photos, Messages, Notes, and Calendar with a specific user. Any device logged in under an Apple ID will display any of this data provided that the sync and backup to iCloud features have been enabled
  • Helps you find a device when it’s lost by using Find my iPhone (we will remind you to set this up in a later step) 

Requirements to Set Up Family Sharing

1) Make sure you’ve updated your and your child’s devices to access Screen Time features. To confirm:

    • Go to Settings and look for the Screen Time hourglass icon (listed below Do not Disturb).
    • If you don’t see it, scroll down, tap General, Software Update (Screen Time runs on iOS 12 or later)

2) Your child’s device must be logged in under their own Apple ID

    • To confirm the Apple ID:
      • Go to Settings on your child’s device, tap the Profile and confirm the email
    • To create an Apple ID:
      • For children over 13, you must create an Apple ID here.
      • For children under 13, you can only create an Apple ID after you set up Family Sharing (we show you how in a later step)

Note: If you’ve previously set up Apple IDs for your children, make sure you know their account logins and passwords.

3) Confirm that Family Sharing has not been previously set up

    • From your phone, tap Settings and then tap Your Account Profile
    • Under the iCloud section, look for Family Sharing
    • If it is not displayed, be sure to check with other family members

If you see Family Sharing under your profile, you must be the Organizer or designated as Parent/Guardian. Tap your name to check, and if neither of these is displayed:

    • Go to the Organizer’s phone, tap their Account Profile, tap Family Sharing, then tap Your Name and toggle on the Parent/Guardian setting.

                     Note: Only the Organizer can add family members (up to 6 Apple IDs per family).

4) Before activating Family Sharing, a payment method must have been added to pay for any purchases made within the family.

    • In Settings, under Your Profile, tap Payment and Shipping
    • Enter your payment information (it may take several few minutes for the card to update to your account)

Setting Up Family Sharing

After confirming the requirements above, initiate set up from your iPhone by going to:

  • Go to Settings > Your Profile (at top) 
  • Tap Set Up Family Sharing
  • Confirm you want to be the Organizer and sign in with your own Apple ID 
  • Follow the onscreen instructions (below we’ve focused on the most important ones)

1. Tap on iTunes & App Store Purchases:

If you want to share purchases between family members and/or require your children to ask permission before they can download content, begin by  clicking on Set Up Purchase Sharing. Confirm your account and click Continue twice.

2. Tap on Location Sharing 

Allow family members to see each other’s locations, or at least where devices are located whenever they’re online. Many families appreciate this feature as it helps them to keep track of devices through Find My. 

  • Tap Share My Location to activate

3. Screen Time

Manage Screen Time for your child by adding or creating an Apple ID

  • If your child already has an Apple ID, or is over 13 click Add Child


  • For a child under 13, create a Child Account

  • Choose your child’s birth date and click Next
  • Click Agree to the Parent Privacy Disclosure
  • Confirm your CVV for credit card and enter the name and last name for your child
  • Create a child’s iCloud email. Be mindful that:
    • There are millions of Apple users, so be creative if you want to successfully create an Apple ID on the first try
    • Apple requires that passwords must have at least 8 characters with upper and lower case letters as well as 1 number and 1 special character

As the Organizer, you can invite additional family members by selecting Add Family Member (found in Your Profile and tapping Family Sharing)


4. Enabling Ask to Buy

If you’re going to give your child the freedom to explore the App Store, but want to approve purchases before they are made from the convenience of your phone, you can turn on the Ask to Buy feature.

  • In the Family Members section, tap your child’s name (found under the Organizer’s profile and tapping Family Sharing)
  • Toggle on Ask to Buy

If you’d like another Parent or Guardian to have the ability to approve purchases (as well as manage Screen Time settings):

  • Tap the family member’s name
  • Toggle on Parent or Guardian


How Tos

How to Share Purchases between Family Members

For Apps

    • Click on the App Store from your home screen and tap the Apps tab on the bottom navigation
    • Next, click on the Profile Picture on the top right of the screen 









    • Click on Purchased to see purchases made by specific family members, and select which family member you want to see purchases for

    • You can select Not on this iPhone/Not on this iPad to easily zero in on everything not installed on your device


Note: All displays downloads associated with your child’s iCloud account; it does not show the downloads for other family members.

 HIFAF Recommendation

When Purchase Sharing is enabled, your child can transfer purchases and downloads from other family members without triggering the Ask to Buy permission feature. However, if you’ve set age-based Content Restrictions for apps/iTunes purchases, your child can only transfer downloads within the limits that you’ve set. For example, if you use Instagram and you’ve restricted your 11-year-old to apps up to age 12, then your child will not be able to transfer Instagram because it’s rated 12+.

It’s always a good idea to monitor which apps your child is using on the Screen Time dashboard.

For iTunes

    • Click on the iTunes Store from your home screen and to see Profile, you have to tap on the More tab 1st on the bottom nav
    • Click on the Purchase 
    • Select which family member you want to see purchases for


Here’s how Ask to Buy Works:
When your child tries to download content, the ASK Permission screen pops up on their device. You will then receive a request on your phone which you can approve or decline













 HIFAF Recommendation:
The Ask to Buy feature works best when Touch ID/Face ID is enabled on both the parent and child devices. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing way too much typing. We recommend setting this up now as it will also be easier to set up Screen Time for your child’s device

  • Go to Settings, and tap Touch ID & Passcode (or Face ID) and follow the instructions

Many families appreciate this Ask to Buy feature especially when there’s a need to approve purchases remotely. We do also recommend that parents check the App Store age-level rating, and if you want further information, text us!

How To Turn Off Purchase Sharing for specific family members

When you want to stop sharing purchases for a specific family member:

  • Go to Settings on that person’s phone
  • Click Family Sharing
  • Scroll Down and click on Purchase Sharing
  • Toggle off the Share My purchases

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