Digital Sharing for Apple Users: A Take Control Crash Course
by Joe Kissell

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Table of Contents

Use iCloud Family Sharing

My wife and I frequently buy digital media from Apple that the other person would enjoy too. Although we’d come up with partial workarounds to read the same books or listen to the same music without buying it twice, the process was never pleasant. Add to that a kid or two who is constantly pestering us to buy iPad apps, and the desire to keep our respective photos of the family in sync, and we make the perfect audience for iCloud’s Family Sharing feature. If you, too, have wished for more convenient sharing of digital content in your family, you’ll appreciate Family Sharing.

Family Sharing requires Yosemite or iOS 8 (or later), so I recommend using it only if all your devices are running recent versions of their respective operating systems. If your family fits that profile, here’s what you’ll get for up to six family members:

**①** Manage payment method and family members in this dialog within the iCloud preference pane.
Manage payment method and family members in this dialog within the iCloud preference pane.

Enable Family Sharing

  1. On a Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud.
  2. Click Set Up Family.
  3. Click through five informational screens, confirming that you really want to do this, and agreeing to the terms and conditions.
  4. In the dialog that appears, you can click Add Family Member to add one or more family members:
    • For a family member who already has an Apple ID: select “Enter a family member’s name or email address,” enter the name or address, and click Continue.
    • For a child without an existing Apple ID: select “Create an Apple ID for a child who doesn’t have an account,” click Continue, and follow the prompts.

    Each invited adult will receive an email invitation and must follow its instructions to accept the invitation.

  5. Enter your credit card’s three- or four-digit security code when prompted.

To add more family members, click the plus button and repeat this process. When you’re done, click Done. (To add or remove people later, go to System Preferences > iCloud and click Manage Family.)

Share a Family Calendar and Reminders

Each participating family member automatically has a Family calendar added to Calendar (on OS X and iOS) and a Family reminder list added to Reminders. So, any events or reminders you assign to Family will appear for all family members.

Share Family Photos

Family Sharing creates a new shared photo album called Family in the Photos app on all the family’s devices—as well as in iPhoto running on Mavericks or later. Add photos to this album just like any other album, and they’re available to all family members.

Use Find My Noun

Share Media

Once Family Sharing is set up, media purchased from Apple by any family member is available to the other family members, and new purchases are charged to the organizer’s credit card. To see and download another family member’s purchases:

Use Ask to Buy

If your family includes children, you may want to use Family Sharing’s Ask to Buy feature.

Go to System Preferences > iCloud > Manage Family (Mac) or Settings > iCloud > Family (iOS), select a family member, and turn on Ask to Buy (it’s enabled by default for newly created children’s accounts).

Thereafter, on that child’s devices, after the child clicks or taps the Buy or Install button in any of Apple’s apps where media can be downloaded and enters her password, an Ask Permission alert appears. When the child clicks or taps that button, a parent gets a notification to approve or decline.