Why are my parents’ iPhones all synced up?

As my friend Rachelle recently wrote on Facebook (reposted with her permission): “My parents linked their account name for their phones and now their phones are the same… Oh also they don’t remember their passwords.”

“It sounds like Rachelle’s parents have two iPhones — obviously — and one of them is probably the device that one parent has been using for awhile. The other one is probably brand-new (or recently reset),” David Murphy writes for Lifehacker. “And when setting up this iPhone for the first time (or again), one of parents decided it would be more convenient to just use the same Apple ID as the other device.”

“That totally makes sense on paper. You’re then only paying for an app once, not twice, after all — or a movie, or an album, etc. The problem? Both iPhones will synchronize a lot more information: apps you’ve downloaded, your photos, your music, your iCloud contacts and calendars, your reminders, etc. There’s a lot. And don’t get me started about iMessage: That’s going to be complete chaos to manage on two ‘separate’ devices that, to Apple, appears as one person’s two devices,” Murphy writes. “Get ready for a lot of confusion.”

“Rather than try to comb through this mess, here’s my idea: Go back, reset the second phone (you’ll lose your iMessages, but, well, it happens), and choose to set it up as a brand-new device when prompted. Don’t restore it from a backup. Also, sign into it with a different iCloud account,” Murphy writes. “[Then] have parent number one set up Family Sharing and invite parent number two’s Apple ID to participate… [which] will allow you to maintain separate accounts for things like messaging and notes, while still getting all the benefits of purchases made within your family.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, every individual should have an individual Apple ID all for themselves and, note to parents and in-laws, try to remember your Apple ID password: It’s (way) more important than you seem to think and it saves beaucoup headache for those of us tasked with maintaining your devices!


  1. Also you can set them up to use the same Apple ID for the iTunes & Store only which sounds like what they need. All the messages and contacts email etc. will remain separate.

  2. Someone could make a mint providing a service to unwind people’s intertwined accounts. I’ve personally helped 4-5 families resolve parents and kids’ mixed up accounts. It can be very time consuming. Conceptually it seems easy: each person has their own account. In practice, people don’t get it and want to sign in with their account for their kids/parents/spouses.

  3. So let me get this straight: if I have an iPhone and an iPad, I need to have two different iTunes accounts?

    Because when one does this, an iMessage sent to the account will subsequently alert on only *one* device instead of both.

      1. Sorry, but my iOS devices are fouled up in this fashion. Used to be fine 5-6 years ago (under older versions of iOS), but it’s been messed up this way for a couple of years now.

      2. I said “no” because you seemed to have missed the point of the article.
        If you have multiple devices and want them to share notifications/apps/etc from a single Apple ID, then use a single Apple ID on all of them.
        This article was saying that if you have _different_ _people_ using the different devices, you probably want each _person_ to have their own Apple ID.
        I was just saying “no” to your “let me get this straight” because it was wrong, that’s all.

    1. I have an iPhone and an iPad and I don’t need 2 different iTunes accounts. Only 1 account is needed if you want things to work right. If you want to create chaos, definitely make up another account for the second device.

      1. Unfortunately, I’m seriously thinking of setting up multiple accounts because I’m sick and tired of this not working like it should (and like it used to).

        Or perhaps I’ll just go buy an Android phone instead, with my Apple Stockholder dividends.

  4. But I do like the fact that my wife’s contacts are available to me and synced up. What I don’t like is that her recent calls show up on my recent call list.

  5. So much confusion. Just read the directions. Share and just Text your contacts to each other already filled out once. Not that bad. I know it’s gets out of hand easy. But it’s way better to have separate Apple ID’s.

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