How to Set Up Family Sharing on Apple Devices

Setup Apple Family Sharing Featured

Apple’s Family Sharing has been around since iOS 8 (2014) but has yet to have its time in the limelight. This underestimated feature is really something more and more families should be taking advantage of. The problem is that many either don’t know it exists, and even less people know how it works. The ability to share purchases with family is really great and even better when you consider that only one person needs to pay for an app everyone can use. Let’s take a look at how easy it is to set up Family Sharing on Apple devices. 

Start a Family Group

Setup Apple Family Sharing Appledotcom

First things first: you need to set up a family group. Only one person in the family should be set up as the family organizer, and this can be done via your iOS device (iPhone or iPad) as well as on a Mac. It’s important to note that whomever is setting themselves up as the family organizer does so with a credit card that can be used by everyone. 

iPhone or iPad

1. Go to “Settings -> [Your Name]” and look toward the middle of the page until you see an option for “Family Sharing.” 

Setup Apple Family Sharing Iphone Addmember

2. Tap on “Family Sharing” and then tap again to “Add Member” and follow the rest of the on-screen instructions to add and invite anyone in your family you wish to include.


1. On the Mac, start by going to the Apple menu in the top-left corner, then select System Preferences. Locate “Family Sharing” at the top right and click on it. 

Setup Apple Family Sharing Mac Addmember

2. Locate the “+” button toward the bottom middle of the screen and follow the on-screen instructions. 

Note that on this screen you can see on the left side which subscriptions would be shared with family. That could include Apple TV, Apple Arcade, Fitness+, etc. You can also click on “Purchase Sharing” and make sure that “Share My Purchases” is checked. This will allow app purchases to be shared between family members. 

Inviting People to Join Your Family

Before you can add anyone to Family Sharing, it’s important to make sure that everyone (including children) have a valid Apple ID. Pending that, adding them to your Family Sharing plan is incredibly easy. You can start by adding one family member or adding everyone in your family all at once (up to six people).

iPhone or iPad

1. Go to “Settings -> Your Name” and click on Family Sharing once again.

Setup Apple Family Sharing Invite Iphone

2. Tap on “Add Member,” type in the person’s name or email address, then follow the on-screen instructions. 

3. At this point iOS will ask if you want to send your family member an invite via messages or invite them in person. Click on which method you prefer and follow the instructions. 

4. To accept the invite, the invited person should head to “Settings -> Your Name -> Invitations,” then follow the on-screen instructions. Anyone joining a family account will likely be asked to verify account information ahead of finalizing their addition to the Family Sharing account. 


1. Head back to the Apple menu (Apple logo) and select System Preferences again.

Setup Apple Family Sharing Invite Mac

2. Click on Family Sharing, then click the “+” button toward the bottom. Click on “Invite People” and choose which method you would like to use for delivery. This will include Mail, Messages, Airdrop or inviting in person. Alternatively, you can also create a child account that can be connected. 

3. The newly-invited family member should head to “Apple Menu -> System Preferences,” then Family Sharing. Accept an invitation by following the on-screen instructions and verifying your account information. 

Finding Shared Purchases

iPhone and iPad

Setup Apple Family Sharing Finding Purchases Ios
  • Apps: Open the App Store application and tap on your profile image at the top right. Choose “Purchased,” then tap on “Family Purchases.” From there you can see a list of available apps to download and use on your iOS device.
  • iTunes: On an iPhone, open the iTunes Store app on your iOS device and tap on “More” at the bottom. Next, tap on “Purchased,” then “Family Purchases.” You can now select Music, Movies or TV shows. On an iPad, open the iTunes Store app, tap on “Purchased,” then “My Purchases.” Choose a family member to download an app from.
  • Books: Start by opening the Apple Books app and tapping on your profile at the top right. Choose the family member you want to download from, then choose if you want to select a Book or Audiobook. 


Setup Apple Family Sharing Finding Purchases Mac 2
  • Apps: Open the App Store on the Mac and click on the profile at the bottom left of the screen. Alternatively, you can click on Store in the menu bar and “View My Account.” On the Account screen that appears, click on the name next to “Purchased by” and look at the available downloads. 
  • Apple Music/Apple TV: Begin by opening the Music or TV app (now separate on macOS) and click on “Account -> Family Purchases” on the menu bar. If you have a family account set up, you should see a drop-down box that will allow you to select a family member to share an app with. 
  • Books: Open the Books app and click on “Store > View My Apple ID” from the menu bar at the top. On the left side, look for an option labeled “Purchased,” then click on the drop-down box to select a family member’s name. 

Wrapping Up

Sharing is definitely caring. Having the opportunity to share your purchases with family members is an excellent way to not only cut down on costs but also share incredible apps, music, books, etc. If, however, your family members are using Windows PC, you can still share files with them over the network.

David Joz
David Joz

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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