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iCloud Family Sharing - Worth The Hassle

We all know that iCloud isn't perfect. In fact, it can be a confusing mess at times.

For our family, iCloud Family Sharing has delivered on iCloud's promise. 

Even though it was difficult to set up. 

We've always wanted to have a joint family calendar.

(Ms. AAAD, in particular, has been asking for this feature.) 

We've also wanted a chance to clean up our AppleID situation. Mine was still tied to a never-used Hotmail address, the wife's was a Yahoo address... and we thought we were stuck with them.

At the same time, we wanted certain devices in the household to be tied to NO family member's AppleID. 

Like our iMac, or our iPad mini. It would be nice if those were "everybody" devices.

The good news is that we figured it all out. 

The bad news is that it took quite a while, and we still aren't perfect. But there are some HUGE advantages to Family Sharing. 

AppleID Cleanup

The first step in our process was updating our AppleIDs. 

I'd stuck with my email address for years, because I didn't want to lose access to my prior purchases, and I didn't want to have 2 active AppleIDs on all of our devices. 

Basically, changing seemed difficult, and potentially disastrous. 

It's not. 

Just go to  

Click "Manage Your AppleID" and sign in. 

From there, you can change your AppleID to your current primary email address. It's literally that easy. 

You'll have to sign out, and sign back in, on your devices. And signing OUT of your iPhone will require you to enter your password in order to sign out of Find My iPhone. 

But once your devices are signed in on the new AppleID email, you're set.

Creating the Family

Now that we had our AppleIDs fixed, we wanted to link them as a family. 

In order to do that, you need an organizer.  

In our case, we went with a generic AppleID as the family organizer, and then added my wife and me as Parents. 

That generic "family AppleID" isn't standard practice, and it may lead to some issues moving forward. But it seems more egalitarian, no?

Anyway, just like that, Ms. AAAD and I were able to share calendars, contacts, App and music purchases - even Safari bookmarks. 

We were really only interested in the calendar. Baby steps.

AppleID For Kids

Speaking of babies, while we were at it, we created a new AppleID for our son. 

In short, you need to have a Family set up in order to add a child Apple ID. 

On your iPhone go to Settings > iCloud > Family, and tap "Create an Apple ID for a child." 

On your Mac, it's System Preferences > iCloud > Manage Family - click the (+) button to add a family member, and then choose "Create an Apple ID for a child who doesn't have an account".

They'll ask for the child's birthdate, 

From that point, you can put limits on the type of content that your child can access on their device.  

By default, the device will "Ask to Buy" any iTunes or App Store purchases - meaning that the Parent will receive a pop-up message asking permission for the purchase. 

Family Calendar

This was the real killer feature. 

Using the OSX Calendar application, we identified (and renamed, for easy ID purposes) an iCloud calendar that had a small "broadcast" icon next to it. 

We tested it out - adding an event for tomorrow (Cubs vs. Reds, at Wrigley Field). 

Almost immediately, every single iOS device in the house "pinged" with a notification, as the new event was added to the Family Calendar. 

And like that, we were all sold. 

Before iCloud Family Sharing, we used a mishmash of subscribed Google Calendars and locally-stored iPhone calendars.... but had never been truly successful in creating an automatically-updating shared calendar. 

iCloud changed that. It's incredibly easy, and it works exactly as you'd expect. 


  1. Great overview, thanks! I didn't even know there was a shared iCloud calendar. We've been using the other purchase-sharing features, which are great too.


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