A Guide to AppleIDs, MobileMe, iCloud and Sharing

With all the cloud awesomeness that happened yesterday, there is tremendous confusion around how to set up iCloud given everyones Apple legacy accounts. Here’s a great guide that will hopefully answer all your question and get you started.

Some definitions:

AppleIDs can be any email address (or for very longtime users, just a simple one word name – NOTE APPLE IS GOING TO MAKE YOU CHANGE THIS TO AN EMAIL IF YOU GO ICLOUD). Many people used .Mac email addresses as their AppleID and then those converted to @me accounts. It doesn’t matter. Apple allows you to have separate AppleIDs (not that you want it) for iTunes/App/Book Store (“iTAB”) purchases, FaceTime, iMessage and even iCloud.

NOTE: iTAB IDs or those used for making purchases in iTunes are the IDs that will be tied to iTunes Match when it is released. This means that if you upload all your music under one iTAB ID and want many people to have access to it, they will all need to share this ID for the Store login. See below.

MobileMe IDs – Many people signed up for MM and by default, also made their AppleID for iTAB purchases their MM address. This creates some confusion i will address below. But MM accounts are the email addresses with the @me.com naming convention.

iCloud Accounts/IDs – iCloud accounts are also defined by an AppleID but this AppleID can be many things. They can be 1) the same as the existing AppleID for the iTAB, 2) your current MM login (in which case if you use your MM account it will be converted to an iCloud account automatically upon first sign in), 3) a new @me account which you can sign up for when you first see the iCloud account setup on your phone, 4) a new email address of your choosing (lets say a Yahoo account).

iMessage IDs – By default, iMessage will be set up with your iCloud AppleID when you first set up iCloud. But keep in mind, Apple allows you to change this under Settings>Messages. What you do here is simply a decision of whether you want the particular iDevice to show iMessages for a specific account. But iMessage can be set up to show many different AppleIDs so it is flexible in that regards.

Scenario 1:
You have an existing AppleID name@gmail.com that is currently used by your family or just by you for iTunes/App/Book Store (“iTAB”) purchases. You want to share this ID across the family so everyone has access to previously purchased content via the cloud.

iCloud Option 1: Separate iCloud account for each family member. No photostream or doc sync sharing
MAIN USER: You have two options. First, when you set up your iCloud for first time, use this same name@gmail.comaccount as the login credentials. This is a “clean” option. This iCloud ID (which is your iTAB ID) will also be set up as your default iTAB ID on your iDevice under the Settings>Store so you don’t have to go into the App store or iTunes store and set it up. [NOTE: Keep in mind this means that if you use the same AppleID for iCloud and iTAB, anyone else sharing your iTAB also has your iCloud passwordAlternatively, you could create a new iCloud ID at setup, name1@gmail.com. Since this is a new ID and not tied to your iTAB ID, once the phone is setup, go into Settings>Store and logout the current ID (remember, by default the iCloud ID you just signed up with) and enter the credentials for name@gmail.com.

SECONDARY USERS/OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS: For other family members that want to set up iCloud, each should create (or use) their unique AppleID to sign into iCloud and these IDs are distinct from the shared iTAB ID ofname@gmail.com. Lets call this name2@gmail.com. However, this family member wants to be able to share the iTAB purchases under the main name@gmail.com account. Easy. Once iDevice is setup, go into Settings>Store and logout the current ID (remember, by default the iCloud ID you just signed up with) and enter the credentials forname@gmail.com. The result is separate iCloud accounts to manage individual photostreams, find my phone, calendar, contacts, reminders, etc but still retaining access to previously purchased content of the iTAB account.

iCloud Option 1 Note: MobileMe
If any family member is currently using MM, they should convert this to an iCloud account upon iCloud setup. This will occur automatically. When asked to enter an iCloud ID for first time, enter your MM credentials and then your MM account will be converted to an iCloud account. Your MM login info becomes your iCloud login. The reason to do this is because Apple is going to auto move all MM to iCloud anyway so your better off doing it yourself to keep things more tidy. [NOTE: If you have or create an @me account, but decide to login to iCloud with a different AppleID, and then try and go and turn on Mail for that account, it will ask you to create an @me account. Why? Because to use Mail under iCloud you need an @me address yet you have signed into iCloud with some other handle (Yahoo, Gmail, hotmail, etc). This has consequences, so see Scenario 3 below.]

iCloud Option 2: Separate iCloud account for each family member. But shared photostream and doc sync sharing
WHOLE FAMILY: There is another way to set this up, but this way is the cleanest. Create an AppleID to be used as the main iCloud account for every family member. In this case, it can be a new @me account you create, an existing shared one, or you can even use your iTAB AppleID in this case. Any person in the family can set this up. Lets just say Main user upgrade to iOS5, and upon initial iCloud setup, does this Whole Family option for their device. We will call this account, family@me.com.
MAIN USER: Assuming this user set up the family@me.com account and the iCloud on their device is set up asfamily@me.com, the next step is to now create their own distinct iCloud ID. We do this because in order to share photostream, everyone in the family MUST BE LOGGED IN TO THE SAME ICLOUD AS THE MASTER ICLOUD ACCOUNT. Go into Settings>Mail, iCal, etc and create a new iCloud account. You have the option of entering your AppleID if you have a separate one (maybe your MM account) or you can create a new one, with the button at the bottom. Once you set that up, you will have your own Mail, Cal, Contacts, and Reminders.
SECONDARY USERS/OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS: Each family member does the exact same setup as the Main user. When logging into iCloud for first time, each member enters family@me.com as their iCloud account and then goes and sets up their own iCloud account.

iCloud Option 2 Note: SHARING 
As for accessing each others information, again you have options. Either, you can use that main family@me.comaccounts calendar and contacts and reminders as shared for everyone. All stuff that should be shared gets placed on that accounts respective calendar, contact book, etc. But you may find this too tedious. Instead, each family member can add the other’s iCloud account. Just go back to Settings and add another iCloud account of the family member. Then, you just turn on that family members respective calendar, contact, reminder. In this case, you would likely turn off the main family@me.com accounts calendar, contacts, reminders since they are not being used.

Scenario 1 Common Questions:
Q: How do I setup multiple iCloud accounts/IDs?
A: A few ways. The easiest way is that each person sets up their own iCloud account on their iDevice at the initial setup. Assuming you yourself want two IDs or want to set it up for someone else, there are two options. On the Device, go under Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendar>Add Account. There you will see either enter the iCloud credentials or at the bottom, get a free AppleID. Choose this option, walk through the steps of creating a new AppleID and then you have your new iCloud account. Other method is on the computer under Lion 10.7.2, there is now an iCloud System preference. You can set up iCloud accounts/IDs there.

Q: I have an old .mac account that was upgrade to MobileMe, how does moving to iCloud affect me?
A: There is no different if you have one of these legacy accounts. If you are still using your @mac email to log into your iTAB account, you can continue to do so. When asked to sign up for a new iCloud account on your device, you can just use your MM credentials before or after you have migrated MM to iCloud. You will either be prompted to do so if you have not migrated or it will simply set you up with iCloud. You don’t even need to change the iTAB login as the @mac and @me accounts are interchangeable from a AppleID perspective.

Q: Can i have multiple iCloud accounts on 1 phone?
A: Yes. The initial iCloud account you sign up with is your “master” account. This is important because any iOS device can only have one master iCloud account. The master iCloud account is tied into photostream, your device backup and settings, Docs sharing, and Find my iDevice. So if name1@gmail.com is the master iCloud account, you can addname2@gmail.com as the second iCloud account. Why do this? To share calendars, reminders, and contacts. However, you will not be able to share name2@gmail.com‘s photo stream, doc sharing, or device settings obviously. Find my iPhone is a little tricky in that you could disable it on the master iCloud account and turn it on in the secondary iCloud account. You would do this to tie Find my iDevice to one account so you can see all devices under that one account (similar to how it has been in the past).

Q: What about iMessage. If we share iCloud accounts won’t we each see the others iMessages? Can we all have our own iMessage IDs?
A: iMessage allows you to assign it yet another distinct ID. Its under Settings>Messages. But in practice the most likely use case is just to assign iMessage your unique iCloud AppleID. In the case of an iPad, you may choose to give it its own ID or more likely, you may assign it to one persons account or add everyones account so the iPad is truly a shared device. Of course every family members iMessages would be set to show up there but this may be ok for everyone.

Q: What about iTunes in the Cloud? How does that work now?
A: This is really two distinct items. Lets call this previous iTunes Purchases and iTunes Match (not yet available). Both of these are tied to the iTAB ID not the iCloud ID. For previous iTunes Purchases, and assuming everyone is sharing the name@gmail.com iTAB account, you can go into the iTunes app and there is a section called Purchased. Under here, you will see every song/movie/show ever purchased and it is available for download. Each family member,regardless of their iCloud account can download this music to their device to be mixed in with the current Music library already synced from the computer. If family member A and family member B have different libraries or have synced different playlists, its doesn’t matter. The music is just downloaded to the device as another song.

iTunes Match is also tied to the iTAB ID. So for example, if you have uploaded your entire library via iTunes Match, which was inclusive of songs purchased through iTunes and songs ripped via other means, all your music is now stored in the cloud [dont think iCloud though]. If you want that available, you have to turn on iTunes Match on the iDevice. BUT THIS HAS CONSEQUENCES. Turning on Match will wipe clean your current Music library on your iDevice. Instead, your Music app (not the iTunes app) will show all the same songs you just wiped (assuming it matched 100%) except that they will all be available for download. Meaning, you will need to redownload all the songs you want in your library. Each family member can do this or not do this as again, Match is tied into the ITAB ID. Each family member can also choose to download whichever songs they want. They will not be synced across devices.

Scenario 2: You have multiple AppleIDs in the family that have purchased their own iTAB content but with iCloud now, you want to unify them. How do you do that and still setup separate iCloud accounts.

iCloud Option 3:
In order to unify content from multiple AppleIDs, you need to copy all purchases from the other IDs onto the computer you sync with your iDevice. You then need to authorize that computer to all the different AppleIDs. Once that is done, all your iTAB content can by synced to your iDevice. If your family all uses separate computers to manage their iDevice, but you still want to unify the purchases, you do the same thing on each computer. The key is picking one AppleID to use going forward. So if the family has family@me.comfamily1@me.com, andfamily2@me.com, each that has been used for iTAB purchases, I would choose family@me.com as the single iTAB account going forward. Each person would need to authorize the other two accounts that is not on their computer, download all the content into their iTunes libraries. Then everyone signs in as family@me.com going forward.

The rest of the setup is the same as iCloud Option 1 or 2 above. When it comes time to setup the iTAB AppleID, you use the family@me.com. Your device will have all content from the other two family IDs and going forward, anything purchased under family@me.com is available to everyone. BUT THIS METHOD DOES NOT MAKE THE PREVIOUS PURCHASES UNDER FAMILY1@ME.COM AND FAMILY2@ME.COM AVAILABLE IN THE CLOUD FOR REDOWNLOAD UNDERFAMILY@ME.COM. It only serves to get each iDevice access to the collective content and then positions the family to have one ID going forward for all purchases.

Scenario 2 Common Questions:
Q: Can I migrate an old AppleID which is tied to iTAB content to a new one that I want to set up as my new iCloud ID?
A: Yes you can. You can manage this at Apples website. However, this new AppleID under iCloud cannot be an @me account. They restrict this for some reason

[all credits go to dhy8386]

FSM tries its best not to track you or allow third party services to track you. You may notice we don't use ads or social share buttons.

We don't ask for your email or any other personal info. Hell, we don't even have Google Analytics on the site. FSM tries to provide you with valuable info in a way that respects your privacy.

If you would like to support FSM consider donating with Bitcoin: 1Hfuq77gKKFJeNcq4EP4dQK3yDRWrFEwJR

Alternatively you can buy us a coffee. ( one time payment )