What is Apple’s Family Sharing Feature and What is Shared?

Apple family sharing

Apple’s Family Sharing is a feature from Apple that was first announced in 2014, and it is specially created to make it easier for families to share content, storage, and purchases across several iOS devices and Apple ID accounts.

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Apple Family Sharing effectively works across Macs and iOS devices. It allows as many as six people to share Apple Books, iTunes and App Store purchases, an Apple News+ subscription, iCloud storage plan, an Apple Music family plan, as well as share photo albums, a family calendar, and even locations, without having to share accounts.

Below is all the information you need to have relating to Apple’s Family Sharing feature. Here you’ll find out how to set it up, its requirement, what can be shared, and how to use it.

How to setup Family Sharing

Apple Family Sharing is quite simple to set up. The member of the family who sets it up becomes what Apple identifies as the Organiser, and this person can select the features that a family shares, and can also invite as many as five family members to join the Apple Family Sharing group.

Once an invited family member accepts the invite, that family member will automatically see the Family Sharing set up on their device.

Family Sharing set up on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch:

  • Click on the Settings icon and click on your name displayed at the top
  • Click on ‘Set Up Family Sharing’
  • Tap on ‘Get Started’
  • Select the first feature you would love to share with your other family members (iOS 11 or later)
  • Click on ‘Continue’
  • Select a Shared Payment method – the card registered here will be used by family members to pay for Apple Books, iTunes, and App Store purchases.
  • Click on ‘Continue’
  • Tap on the option to Invite Family Members
  • Type in the security number for your selected shared Payment card if required, then and click ‘Next.’
  • You will receive a new iMessage coupled with a link to the invitation to Family Sharing. Type in the contact name or number of your family member and press send.
  • Select ‘Done.’

How to setup Family Sharing on Mac

  • Select the Apple menu located on the top left side of your screen
  • Click on System Preferences
  • Tap on iCloud (or tap on the Family Sharing icon for those who are running macOS Catalina)
  • Click on the option to ‘Set up Family’ or ‘Add Family Member.’
  • Punch in a family member’s email address, name or Game Centre nickname
  • Tap Continue
  • Type in the security code for the card you’re using to confirm that you are the Family Organiser for the setup
  • Select whether you want to send an invitation or just ask your family members to type in the password for their Apple ID

Requirements for Apple Family Sharing

All family members that will benefit from the share will need to be running nothing other than OS X Yosemite and later or iOS 8 and later for the Apple Family Sharing feature to be functional.

Each member of a family can only belong to a single-family group at a time. You can only switch to a different family group if necessary twice per year.

The family Sharing also offers an option for you to set up an Apple ID for a child who is below the age of 13, allowing that child to be a part of your Apple Family Sharing group.

If you’d like to do this, you can follow the instructions made available on Apple’s support page.

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What kind of information can you share in Family Sharing?

Apple family sharing

When you do a first time setup for Family Sharing, as a Family Organiser, you select which of the available features you would like to share with your family.

The first set of options that will appear are App Store purchases, and iTunes purchases, iCloud Storage, Apple Music, Screen Time, and Location Sharing.

Below is a rundown of what sharing any of those features with the additional five family members entails.

App Store and iTunes Purchases

Family members will be at liberty to view and download the books, music, movies, apps, and TV Shows that you have already purchased.

Each family member will immediately get access to all paid apps that have already been purchased by other family members.

You can equally download your own copy of any of the apps directly to your iPhone or any other Apple device without needing to share Apple IDs and passwords with anyone. However, you are only allowed to share apps that are supported by Apple Family Sharing.

Apple Music

Once you have an Apple Music Family plan, up to six members of your household will be granted unlimited access to the services of Apple Music on their apple devices for either $14.99/month or £14.99/month.

Each member of the family will have their personal Apple Music account as well as a private music library and recommendations. However, since it’s a family plan, the cost is significantly lower than what it would cost six individual subscriptions.

iCloud Storage

All Family members will be allowed shared access to a storage plan for everyone’s files, photos, and backups so that individual members do not need to purchase their own separate plans. There is a choice of either 200GB or 2TB, and the family can share both.

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There will be privacy as family members will not have access to the files of other members, but you’ll be able to view how much of the storage space each person is using.

Location Sharing

Family members will easily view each other’s locations If necessary, with the use of Find My Friends and Messages. With this feature set up, family members will also be able to locate each other’s devices with the aid of Find my iPhone.

If a family member decides to get some privacy from the other members of their family, they are at liberty to switch off the ‘Share My Location’ option in the iCloud settings in order to have their location turned off until they decide otherwise.

Screen Time

Setting up the Family Sharing Screen Time feature will allow you to easily view your child’s screen time reports and easily set parental controls straight from your iPhone. The Screen Time feature is only useful for those who have kids in their family.

This means that you do not have the ability to set a time limit on any app for your partner, but you can do so for a child.

It’s also possible for you to name another member of the family as a parent/guardian so that you can have an extra pair of eyes on your children and their screen time.

TV Channels

TV Channels does not appear as a feature when the Family Sharing is newly set up, but it shows if you go back into your setting and view the Family Sharing section. Each member of your family will get immediate access to your subscriptions once this feature is turned on.

Everyone member of your family will be able to easily watch content from multiple devices and also get personalized recommendations depending on what they watch.

How does purchasing work on Apple Family Sharing?

All purchases of content are billed directly to the selected card used when Family Sharing was set up, except a member of your family decides to use their own store credit or gift.

When this card has successfully been setup, and you have the purchasing sharing feature turned on, automatically, the Family Organiser will have authorised the card to be used for purchases by all family members.

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How do I turn off purchase sharing?

To turn off purchase sharing, go to Settings > click on your name > click on Family Sharing > click on the option for Purchasing Sharing > Toggle off ‘Share My Purchases.’

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