Prevent (or solve) problems with your Apple ID!

Take Control of
Your Apple ID

Fourth Edition
Glenn Fleishman

The center of the Apple world is the Apple ID. This little identifier ties up your access to iCloud, to purchased and streaming music, TV, and movies, and to all your devices. While an Apple ID account is critical, Apple has made it difficult to navigate the many features associated with it—and particularly to troubleshoot when things go wrong. This book helps you manage your password, enhanced security, and account details, and recovery options, like the Recovery Key and Recovery Contact. You will find it invaluable as a guide for every-day Apple ID questions, and in a pinch when you’re at wit’s end.

All Take Control books are delivered in two ebook formats—PDF and EPUB—and can be read on nearly any device.


Everything Apple relies on your Apple ID. It’s a key that unlocks a long list of Apple products and services on any of numerous devices. iCloud uses an Apple ID, as does Apple Music; the App Store; the Music, TV, and Books apps; and more. An Apple ID protects your personal information, including email and iOS/iPadOS backups; helps you find a lost iPhone; and can even unlock your Mac. So it goes without saying that if something goes wrong with your Apple ID, you could be in for a world of hurt.

Unfortunately, things go wrong with Apple IDs all the time. Fortunately, Glenn Fleishman, a veteran technology journalist and the author of Macworld’s “Mac 911” column, is ready to help with expert advice on how to manage your Apple ID—including how to prevent, solve, or work around most common problems!

This latest edition is fully updated for all the changes released by Apple in 2023 connected to your Apple ID, as well as for iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS 14 Sonoma, watchOS 10, tvOS 17, and other Apple products and services.

In this book, Glenn answers questions like:

  • What all is my Apple ID used for?
  • How does my iCloud account relate to my Apple ID?
  • What’s two-factor authentication and how do I manage it—and not get locked out of my account?
  • Should I invest in hardware security keys to up the protection of my Apple ID account?
  • What problems can two-factor authentication (2FA) solve, and how do I use it?
  • Are there other mechanisms I can use to ensure that I can recover an Apple ID in the event of a problem? (Spoiler: yes!)
  • What should I do if I have two or more Apple IDs or iCloud accounts?
  • Will I lose access to all my Apple media purchases if I move to another country?
  • Can I share an Apple ID with someone else?
  • What does an Apple One account offer and how does it interact with Family Sharing and iCloud+ storage tiers?
  • Is there an explanation for how code-based and hardware-based second factors protect my account and how they differ from passkeys? (Yes!)
  • What exactly should I do if I think someone is hacking my Apple ID account?
  • How can I recover a forgotten Apple ID password?
  • What happens if I’m assaulted or drugged and someone gains access to my iPhone passcode and resets my Apple ID? (Sadly, a too real, if uncommon, problem.)
  • What steps should I take if Apple locks me out of my account?
  • If I lose access to an email address associated with my Apple ID, what can I do?
  • What Apple ID changes in recent versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS do I need to know about?
  • How can I use Family Sharing to share data and purchases within my family?
  • What types of subscriptions can I manage with my Apple ID, and how?
  • Which payment methods can I associate with my Apple ID, and how do I manage them?

And that’s just the beginning. Glenn has packed a remarkable amount of concise problem-solving information into this comprehensive book. Read it before you encounter Apple ID problems to minimize your risk, and if you’ve already encountered a problem, read it to find the best path to a rapid solution.

Glenn Fleishman

About Glenn Fleishman

Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, Fast Company, and Increment. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. He spent 2019 and 2020 building 100 tiny type museums full of real printing artifacts. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

What’s New in the Fourth Edition

This edition incorporates changes Apple released in or alongside iOS 17/iPadOS 17, macOS 14 Sonoma, and watchOS 10. These include:

  • Apple ID theft exploits: Apple has left three pathways open that can let a remote thief or one who has stolen your phone (including through violence or drugging) reset your Apple ID password. I explain how in “How Your Apple ID Could Be Hijacked with a Phone.” I’ve also updated other parts of the book in which recovery may be impossible or impeded to this issue.
  • Sign in to Apple with a passkey: Passkeys are a relatively new way to provide a more secure web login than a password, explained in “Where Passkeys Fit In.” You can now use a passkey to log in to Apple websites using your Apple ID. See “Log In with a Passkey to Apple Websites.”
  • Sign-In & Security: Related to the above, Apple has relabeled Settings > Account Name > Password & Security in iOS/iPadOS and macOS to Sign-In & Security to better encompass all the options. This has been updated throughout the book. For simplicity’s sake, when I’m referring to both older and newer operating systems, I sometimes say “Sign-In/Password & Security.”
  • Sign in via a nearby device and other methods: Apple said iOS 17/iPadOS 17 would let you sign in using a nearby device or an email address or phone number in your account. They haven’t yet provided details as to what that means. Check back at “Other Ways To Log In? Coming Soon” for updates.
  • Deal with trusted phone number overlaps: Apple has issues with phone numbers that appear in multiple Apple ID accounts. I’ve clarified how that might affect you with revisions to “Change or Add Trusted Phone Numbers.”
  • Share AirTags: Apple will let you share AirTags with up to five other people. I’ve noted that throughout this version because it’s an Apple ID-based sharing feature.
  • Non-Family Sharing shared things: Along with AirTags, Apple now has two other kinds of digital things you can share with people that aren’t part of a Family Sharing group. See “Shared Things Not Tied to Family Sharing.”
  • Court order for digital legacy: Apple has updated their document related to recovering a deceased person’s Apple ecosystem data with a long note about court orders and other documents. See a new sidebar in “How to Access Someone’s Digital Legacy.”
  • Delete your account: No, this isn’t advice or an insult, but something omitted from previous editions by my oversight. Apple does let you delete an Apple ID account and everything associated with it. This may be useful for an account you not only no longer want to use, but want to erase all trace of. See “Delete Your Apple ID.”
  • More iCloud+ storage: While this isn’t an iCloud book, I’d be remiss to not call out Apple’s addition to iCloud+ tiers of 6 TB and 12 TB of storage. See “iCloud and iCloud+ Services” and “Apple One.” I’ve also updated references to iCloud+ storage throughout.
  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • Supported Operating Systems
    • What’s New in the Fourth Edition
  • Introduction
  • Apple ID Quick Start
  • Where to Log In with Your Apple ID
  • Understand Your Apple ID
    • What’s an Apple ID?
    • From a Murky Past, Apple ID Emerged
    • How Apple Uses the Apple ID
    • Manage Payments with Your Apple ID
  • Prevent Apple ID Problems
    • Make Sure You Can Self-Recover
    • Avoid Losing Access
  • Authenticate Your Apple ID Login
    • Pass on the Singular Password
    • Get To Know and Deploy 2FA
    • Deploy a Security Key with Apple ID
    • Use App-Specific Passwords
    • Troubleshoot Apple ID Login Problems
    • Delete Your Apple ID
  • Recover Your Account
    • Pick a Recovery Pathway for 2FA and Keys
    • Recover iCloud Data with a Recovery Contact
    • Leave Permission with a Digital Legacy
  • Sign In with Your Apple ID
    • Learn How Sign in with Apple Works
    • Use Sign in with Apple
    • View and Remove Linked Accounts
  • Manage Multiple Apple IDs
    • Use Separate Accounts for Purchases and iCloud
    • Work with Apple ID Across Countries
    • Manage Two iCloud Accounts
  • Split or Migrate Apple IDs
    • Split an Apple ID Between Two People
    • Migrate from One Apple ID to Another
  • Share with Your Family
    • Enable Family Sharing
    • Review Family Subscriptions
    • Manage Family Members as Organizer
    • Turn Off Family Sharing
  • Subscribe to Services
    • Apple’s Many Subscription Offerings
    • Apple One
    • Cancel Subscriptions
  • Cope with a Hack of Your Apple ID Account
    • Recognize an Attack in Progress
    • Stop an Attack in Progress
    • Deal with an Account Lost Forever
  • Solve Common Problems
    • Set Up 2FA Codes Without a Device
    • Reset a Password-Only Account’s Password
    • Deal with a Locked Account
    • Update a Credit Card for Purchases
    • Manage an Unavailable Email Address
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
  • Copyright and Fine Print

Glenn Fleishman discusses M-series Macs, securing your Mac, Apple ID and more

Posted by Joe Kissell on April 23, 2021

Glenn Fleishman joined Chuck Joiner on MacVoices in a massive, three-part series to discuss updates to several of his books, including Take Control of Your M-Series Mac, Take Control of Securing Your Mac, Take Control of Your Apple ID, and Take Control of Home Security Cameras. The three episodes are:

You can also watch them right here:

Apple Developers Told 2FA for Apple ID Soon Required

Posted by Glenn Fleishman on February 15, 2019

Apple recently told software developers that two-factor authentication (2FA) will be required as of February 27, 2019, for Apple ID accounts used to log in to the company’s developer website, and which are used for other purposes to create identification and encryption documents. That’s a concern for some developers who haven’t enabled 2FA on the account or accounts they use for development purposes.

Apple requires that you use macOS or iOS to enable 2FA for an Apple ID, as I describe in Take Control of Your Apple ID in some detail (along with how to take steps so that you set up 2FA with the right recovery details in case you have a problem with the account or someone tries to hack into it). That requires a given Mac or iOS device has that Apple ID used as its iCloud login account.

But some developers use one or more Apple IDs for development that they don’t employ with iCloud on any device. They were left wondering how they could possibly enable 2FA, even though they can use telephone-based SMS or automated-voice codes to confirm logins after setting it up.

Fortunately, Take Control of Your Apple ID has the answer (in the section “Set up 2FA Without a Device”). Here’s a brief rundown:

  1. Set up a separate login account on a Mac, even one you don’t routinely use.
  2. Log in to iCloud via the iCloud preference pane using the Apple ID you want to upgrade to 2FA.
  3. Make sure to set at least a couple phone numbers to use as verification codes in the process of set up.

Now, whenever you log into a developer resource or any Apple site or service that requires that Apple ID, Apple will attempt to send a verification code to the macOS account you logged in with, which won’t do anything. Instead, click or tap “Didn’t get a verification code” and then you can choose to receive an SMS or voice-based code to complete the login (as explained in depth in the section “Log In with 2FA by SMS or Voice Call”).


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