Our Complete Guide to Apple’s Family Sharing

What Is Family Sharing and Why You Should Set it Up

  • Take advantage of Apple’s parental controls from the convenience of your phone (Screen Time iOS 12 
  • Share any paid content downloaded through the iTunes or App Store with family members
  • Keep track of your child, or more specifically, your child’s device
  • Approve your child’s app downloads from your phone
  • Join Apple Music’s Family Plan
  • Create an Apple ID for a child under 13

Setting up an Apple ID allows your child to:

  • Download and make purchases from the App and iTunes Store; purchases are kept separate from other family members
  • Make and receive Facetime calls, send and receive messages in iMessage and send and receive emails in Mail
  • Find a device when it’s lost by signing into the associated iCloud account (Find my iPhone must first be enabled).

An Apple ID, iCloud account and iTunes account are essentially synonymous.

  • iCloud is essentially storage space for all data.
  • Photos, videos, notes, contacts, calendar, downloads etc. are all backed up to iCloud and can be accessed via your iCloud account  
  • If syncing is enabled, iCloud keeps your data updated across devices, so that changes made on one device appear on all others

In the process of creating an Apple ID, an iCloud email will be generated for you. Select a password. Be sure to save this somewhere safe. These log-in credentials you will need to sign into your

child’s iCloud account.

  • Make sure you’ve updated your iPhone/iPad to the latest iOS release: Go to Settings, General, About, Software Update
  • If you’ve previously set up Apple IDs for your children, make sure you know their account login and password
  • Confirm that no one else in your family has previously set up Family Sharing. If so, ask the Organizer to add you as a Parent/Guardian: From the Organizer’s iCloud, tap Family Sharing, tap your name, and toggle on Parent/Guardian

How do I set up Family Sharing?

After confirming the requirements above, initiate set up from your iPhone by going 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
  • If your spouse is already the Organizer, but has designated you as a Parent/Guardian, you can still add family members
  • Follow the onscreen instructions.


Decide which Family Sharing features you want to activate:

1. iTunes & App Store Purchases:

  • Click on Set Up Purchase Sharing
  • To confirm your account, click Continue
  • Then again click Continue on the Shared Payment page; this enables purchase sharing across the family

HIFAF Recommendation

Content Restrictions will be applied according to how you set them for your child. For example, if you’ve limited your child to PG-13 movies, they would not be able to access an R-rated movie. However, if you still have have apps, movies, or TV shows that you wouldn’t want your child to have access to, then turn on Share Purchases only when needed.

2. Location Sharing 

Allow your family members to see where you are (or at least where your phone is) whenever it’s online using Messages, Find My Friends, or Find My iPhone.


If you don’t have to share your location with every family member.  To stop sharing location, from Your Profile, tap Share My Location, tap the family member, and scroll through the contact details and select Stop Sharing Location.

3. Screen Time

  • Click on Add Child if your child already has an Apple ID


  • Click on Create a Child Account (for Children under 13)
  • 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

Note: if you child is over 13, go here and select Create Your Apple ID at the top right of the page.

Now you can invite other family members to join the group (families are limited to 6 people).

  • From your Profile, click Add a Family Member

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.

  • Under your Profile, Family Sharing, tap your family member’s name.
  • Tap Ask to Buy

If you’d like to add another Parent or Guardian to approve purchases, do this by going to:

  • Your profile > Family Sharing > tap the person’s name
  • Toggle on Parent or Guardian

HIFAF Recommendation:

Generally, we find Ask to Buy more than a bit clunky. Between you and your child, you will be asked for your Apple ID password 4 times.  While the process is slightly smoother if you have Touch ID, some families still appreciate the Ask to Buy feature, especially when there’s a need to approve purchases remote.  We do also recommend you investigate first– Common Sense Media can offer great insight.

If you need to add a child:

  • Under Family Members section, just tap Add Family Member (up to 6 people can be added)
  • Create a Child Account and hit Next
  • Enter your child’s birthday and tap Next
  • Review the Parent Privacy Disclosure and tap Agree
  • Enter the requested information for your payment method and tap Next

How to Transfer Purchases using Family Sharing

  • Click on the App Store from your home screen
  • Click on the Profile Picture on the top right of the screen
  • Click on Purchased to see purchases made by specific family members
  • If you’re reviewing from your iphone/ipad, you will want to click on Not on this iPhone/Not on this iPad. Here you can easily zero in on everything your child has downloaded that you currently do not have installed on your device
  • All shows all purchases downloaded to your or your child’s iCloud account; it does not show activity for other family members


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