Why can’t Apple help its users manage and consolidate Apple ID accounts?

“If you’ve been using Apple products for a while, you may have multiple Apple IDs. One might be a user name, and another an email address,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Macworld. “Or you may have set up one Apple ID for the iTunes and App Stores and another for your personal data, such as your email and other iCloud services. (And this is fine; Apple even explains how to do it.)”

“Some people may have set up a second Apple ID because, for some reason, they couldn’t access the account with the first one, and simply gave up. Or they used an email address they no longer use, and created a new Apple ID with a more current address,” McElhearn writes. “In either of these cases, they cannot download apps or media purchased with the older Apple ID.”

“Back in 2013, I wrote about problems with Apple IDs. One of the issues I mentioned was the merging of multiple Apple IDs, and I pointed out that Tim Cook had replied to a user by email, back in 2011, that Apple was working on this,” McElhearn writes. “Five years later, there is still no way to merge Apple IDs. Is it too hard to set up a website where people can enter multiple Apple IDs and passwords and have them linked into one?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: ‘Tis a damn good thing Apple has never announced the ability to merge/manage Apple IDs or the shock of it might have triggered concurrent heart attacks and we’d be dead right now.

Is it too hard to set up a website where people can enter multiple Apple IDs and passwords and have them linked into one? (No. It isn’t.)

Maybe we should all ask tcook@apple.com that very question?


  1. I suspect the problem has to do with the encryption on the two separate accounts – merging the files from both could be tricky. You’d probably have to decrypt and re-encrypt one of them.

    1. Yes, the problem is obviously not in coming up with “a website where people can enter multiple Apple IDs”. It’s the back end and dealing with all the consequences and permutations and edge cases.

      1. And of course fraud. With this tool, discovering someone’s password means completely hijacking their account. The victim’s account is suddenly just gone. Non-existent. And all their purchases belong to the thief, including, for instance, any unused gift cards or account balance.

        1. How is that dependent on (or even related to) multiple IDs???

          Whether you have one or more IDs, when someone discovers your password, whatever you have there is compromised. Having other IDs doesn’t save you from losing your data on the account with compromised password.

            1. Maybe I’m slow today, but I can’t make sense of what you (and, presumably, listcatcher) are saying.

              Exactly HOW is the account _gone_?

              I can’t see how the availability of this tool (which would allow you to merge multiple Apple IDs) would in any way affect a user whose Apple ID password has been compromised.

            2. It’s gone because it got merged into the thief’s account. They could hardly allow merging and at the same time maintain that ID as a separate entity.

        2. I would be willing to do this in person at an apple store. Its a one off action anyways. Show ID so they can log it all and verify both accounts belong to the same person.

    2. That’s true, but I suspect that my own family’s case is the common one. My wife and I each have two Apple IDs, one which we used for iTunes/App Store purchases in the pre-iCloud era, and another that we use for iCloud features.

      In that case it should be easy to merge accounts. One account would be set as the “true” iCloud account, and all of its iCloud-related settings and documents would be retained as is. The other account would basically be wiped, but the purchases (i.e. licenses) associated with that account would be migrated to the true account. No file merges would be necessary.

      The biggest problem is that inexperienced users might accidentally erase the wrong account. In that case, Apple should retain the old account’s files for some period of time (e.g. 6 months) so that the original account can be restored in case of an error.

      1. This would be WAY too logical for Apple.

        And while you’re at it dumkopfs, how about making it so I can change the iMac administrator name. I’m so goddam confused with family sharing, multiple iCloud and itunes and App Store accounts, and the admins and names and users on my computers that it makes my head hurt. Meanwhile, you glide over to Netflix and everything is handled seamlessly; Christ, even my rarely-visiting mother-in-law has her own Netflix profile on our TV.

        And for GOD SAKES, put all the music I’ve purchased thru Apple into the cloud for free. Wanna charge me a nickel or something to redownload a song to some non-Apple device, or recover it after my main storage computer burns down, fine. But it’s QUITE irritating to have music spread all over the goddam place amongst 4 people in my family, when the only person paying for all that music is ONE credit card (MINE).

        I’m sick and tired of Hollywood and Music Shitistry nickel and diming me my entire life. Screw them. Apple should just make it easier for cord-cutters and say FU hollywood, it’s not like they are playing nice anyway, so F’em and go end-around. When the world starts getting their music the EASY way, they’ll come around and stop trying to squeeze everyone.

    3. Encryption doesn’t seem like a problem that I can see. What might be a problem is Apple doesn’t want to see a secondary market emerging for buying used apple IDs with attached apps. People would buy expensive games on a brand new apple id, then on-sell it.

  2. The work-around is to enable Family Sharing. Set up the “family of one” in System Preferences iCloud pane, using your main Apple ID. Enter other Apple ID(s) as the “family.” There are some limitations, but purchases can be shared.

    1. Is there a way to enable multiple credit cards in family sharing that is purchase dependent? I enabled family sharing for Apple Music, but then my grown kids order an iTunes movie rental and I get charged for it on my credit card. I don’t wanna get charged for it.

        1. That won’t work. There is no way family members can pay for their own rentals/purchases with their own payment method. This is one of the family plan restrictions that is put in place on purpose, so that people wouldn’t simply get family plan for Apple Music and then share it with their friends to split the cost.

          There IS a way you could work around this problem. You would need to buy an Apple Store (or iTunes) gift card and redeem it as a family member. Then you could use the balance on that gift card for purchases / rentals, instead of the family head’s credit card.

          1. I think you are correct Predrag. At least as far as iTunes/Apple Music is concerned. Now my son just purchased an iPhone 7 under his Apple ID and his credit card, so at least Apple Online Store alternate payment methods are allowed.

    1. Got my Apple ID 10+ years ago, for free.
      That’s the one I’ve purchased every thing with. Then apple decides to make mobile me FREE and automatically assign you an Apple ID different from the Apple ID you already have.

      And you can’t merge them, so I have two apple id’s. (as do MANY) one for my purchases and one for everything else. Apple won’t allow you to merge them, can’t add the mobile me email to the old one, or vise versa.

      Apple needs to allow people to merge them, Hell make it you have to come in to an Apple Store and show ID.

      1. Exactly. Those who have 10 year old Apple IDs like botvinnok, had paid for @mac.com accounts. So they got away with keeping it and being compatible with iCloud.

        But the rest of us who didn’t, but had Apple IDs with no email, were not aloud to convert them to @me.com or @iCloud.com accounts. We have to use outside email services, which poses other security risks. And then to use all iCloud services have to make a separate iCloud account.

        This is the merger we speak of. An iCloud account with no assets merged with an Apple ID, with assets, but unable to function with full iCloud features.

    1. While I agree with the arguments regarding security an potential DRM issues, there is a class of user who created accounts using a non-Apple email address, typically through their ISP. These users then lost their purchased products when, for various reasons, had to obtain a new email address (moving to an area with a different service provider, for instance). These users had no choice in the matter of losing use of a particular email address and Apple will absolutely not help them transfer their paid-for purchases to a new email account. I know as this happened to me and as a result I’ve lost the ability to update ~$500 worth of apps on both the MAS and the iOS store. Sure, I can still use most of them but as new OS’s are released and apps get updated to use new OS features, I am left behind unless I buy a new copy. I’ve spent a lot of time on tbe phone with support and the bottom line is, “Tough shit, fella.”

  3. I have two IDs in two different countries because I emigrated to Canada. I have no illusions about ever merging these two IDs, I just wish that switching back and forth to keep apps updated wasn’t such a bag of hurt. I’ve managed to minimize the pain by managing everything through iTunes on my Mac and syncing my devices over USB. No over-the-air downloads, purchases, updates, or backups under any circumstances.

  4. Thanks for shedding light on this MDN. This is fucking absurd. Basically Apple is punishing people who create an Apple ID. I originally used gmail a long long time ago as my iTunes (and now App Store AND Apple Music) ID, and I was not able to merge that account when I created my new @me Apple ID (which is a REQUIREMENT to enable certain services, like full iCloud syncing). So now my Apple world is completely split between my old ID and my Apple ID and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s incredibly frustrating. They’ve been aware of this issue and had over half a decade to figure this out. But Apple has just chosen neglect.

  5. I just love the perpetual criticism of Apple, from people that have no clues to the complexity of the issue, including MDN..

    if it were easy, Apple would have done it.. You have to make sure that someone could just not enter anything to combine it, just because they have someone’s user Id, password.. a rigorous validation process would be needed to insure that the accounts indeed belong to you…

  6. Are you ready for this? I actually know people that created an Apple ID and put the wrong birthdate in when they created it. Then when they forgot their password and tried to reset with security questions they didn’t realize they had put in the wrong birthdate.

    My husband and I have 6 different Apple ID’s in 3 different countries: 1 in the US, 1 in the UK and 3 in France. One of his Apple ID email addresses is (@live.fr – Microsoft mail just sucked) no longer active and the U.K. account was his former work email which is no longer active. We cannot use the same Apple ID in different countries. We cannot use the same credit card in different countries. This isn’t because of Apple it is because of copyright laws because your Apple ID is used for purchases.

    We can no longer purchase in the U.K. because we no longer have a U.K. address with a U.K. credit card but our Macs are all authorized to use all accounts in iTunes in all three countries so all purchases are useable. We just can’t purchase anything new from the UK. We can purchase from the US because we have a US credit card and address.

    The consolidationless problem has been overcome by making everything available at any store (except Middle East stores where censors make Apple filter out things the religious freaks don’t like).

    The issue of changing email addresses is no longer an issue because you can change your email address on your Apple ID. But understand Apple’s problem: if you have an Apple ID that is an email address you no longer use or can’t access, getting validation from you to combine it with another Apple ID is going to be very tough. On two of our accounts we can’t even reassociate a new email address because we can’t get the validation mail from those accounts.

    We use Family in France for “consolidating” multiple Apple ID’s and an alias for common emails.

    I have to agree with tcook@apple.com that a secure way of doing this for everyone is impossible and it is impossible legally to combine cross-border accounts.

    1. “My husband and I have 6 different Apple ID’s in 3 different countries: 1 in the US, 1 in the UK and 3 in France.”

      There, you see, someone has already stolen one of your IDs while you were composing that sentence!

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