“Family sharing” is a new feature which is available in i0S 8 and is the ideal way to share purchases and downloads for free among all the Apple devices that belong to your household. If you’ve got a variety of devices at home, all belonging to different family members, you’ll probably be aware that everybody sharing the same Apple ID is just not practical or desirable. With “Family Sharing” individual family members with separate Apple IDs and media libraries are able to download music, books and movies that have been purchased by another family member. Photos and a calendar will also be shared centrally.
Before parents reading this start to panic, parental restrictions are still applicable. You can set up “Ask to Buy” and this means you will be alerted when your child attempts to make a purchase. You will have the option to accept or decline it. See below for setting up details.
How to set up the primary account
Somebody needs to be in charge! To set up the primary account, tap on the Settings icon, then scroll down and tap on “iCloud”. Next, tap on “Set up Family Sharing”.
You’ll need to verify your primary payment method, then create Apple IDs for family members whom you wish to connect to this account. Even though the primary payment method (which is the credit card attached to the primary account) will be used for family sharing purchases, you’ll need to add the credit cards of other adults whom you wish to connect.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to invite family members. Go into the family share settings as before, by tapping on the Setting icon, then “iCloud”, then “Family Sharing”. Next tap “Add Family Member” and input the email address of the family member you want to add.
This action will prompt an email invitation to be sent to each family member you want to add. Each family member must then receive the email and tap “Accept.” When the family member accepts, he or she will be able to choose what information they want to share with the family.
Setting up “Ask to Buy”
You can set up “Ask to Buy” on a child’s account, once they have accepted the invitation to become a family member as detailed above. Go into “Settings”, then “iCloud”, then “Family.” Tap on the name of the child and move the “Ask to Buy” switch into the on position. This means that you will be alerted every time your child tries to buy something and their transaction will not be completed until you press “Accept.”
What to do if you can’t see the shared purchases
It’s up to each individual family member whether or not they want to share their purchases, so if you can’t see shared purchases, it might be because purchases have not been shared with you, or that a particular item has been hidden from you.
If you can’t see any shared purchases at all, firstly check that each family member accepted your family sharing invitation. Then try signing out of the iTunes & App Store, before signing back in again.
In order to ensure your purchases are shared, tap on the Settings icon, then “iCloud”, then “Family”. Enter your name to see if “Share my Purchases” is switched on or off.
You can see if an app is shareable by viewing its product page in the App Store. Not all apps are enabled for Family Sharing. This decision is made by the app developer.
To find out more about family sharing such as how to transfer family members in and out of a group, as well as what happens to shared content when somebody leaves Family Sharing, please have a look at our second post on Family Sharing.