Prevent (or solve) problems with your Apple ID!

Take Control of
Your Apple ID

Third Edition
Glenn Fleishman

This book covers everything you need to know about configuring an Apple ID account, interactions with iCloud-based services, and troubleshooting account access.

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


Your Apple ID is much more than a simple username. 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!

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 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 if I have a device that’s too old to work with two-factor authentication?
  • 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 exactly should I do if I think someone is hacking my Apple ID account?
  • How can I recover a forgotten Apple ID password?
  • 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 does “Sign in with Apple” work?
  • 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 compact, 147-page 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 Version 3.5.1

This update fixes a few typos in the book and an error in mislabeling private and public keys in “Behind the Scenes, a Pair of Keys” that could lead to a misunderstanding.

What Was New in Version 3.5

In January 2023, Apple added support for securing your Apple ID with security keys—dedicated hardware for secure logins—using the industry-standard FIDO method. If you enable security keys, Apple disables their code-based two-factor authentication system. See “Authenticate Your Apple ID Login.”

This addition required updates elsewhere the book. Notably, see “Make Sure You Can Self-Recover” and “Recover Your Account.” The section on app-specific passwords, required for any form of 2FA, now has its own major section, “Use App-Specific Passwords.”

Apple also renamed iCloud Data Recovery Service to the more reasonable Recovery Assistance. More importantly, they dramatically increased what a friend or trusted person can help you recover. See “Recover iCloud Data with a Recovery Contact” for more.

  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 3.5.1
    • What Was New in Version 3.5
    • What Was New in Version 3.4
  • 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
    • Get To Know and Deploy 2FA
    • Deploy a Security Key with Apple ID
    • Use App-Specific Passwords
    • Troubleshoot Apple ID Login Problems
  • 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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