How to use multiple Apple ID's with one computer and iTunes

How to use multiple Apple ID's with one computer and iTunes

Many families share one computer and in turn, may back up and sync more than one iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with that one computer. If everyone in your household all shares the same Apple ID for purchases in iTunes, it's normally not an issue. But what if that's not the case and you all want your own Apple ID's for iTunes purchases and you don't want mom's cooking apps mixed in with dad's finance apps? As it happens, you can set iTunes up to separate Apple ID's quite easily.

It'll take a little bit of effort to set up but once you're done, none of your apps, music, tv shows, and movies will be intertwined nor require you to authorize all accounts in the same iTunes library. Here's how.

How to create a new iTunes library

First we'll need to create an iTunes library for each person that's using that computer by performing the following steps:

  1. Completely quit iTunes and make sure it is not running in the background. Now hold down either alt/option on your Mac or Shift on your PC and click to open iTunes again.
  2. You'll notice instead of opening, iTunes is now asking you to either create a new library or navigate to an existing one. Click on the Create Library... option.
  3. Now give it a name and choose where you want to save it at. For most people, the default Music folder is probably fine. After you've named it and selected where you want it to be located at, click on Save.
  4. You'll now be able to scan for media for the new library or you can just sign in to iTunes and bring everything down that you've previously purchased with your Apple ID if you'd like.
  5. Repeat this process and create a library for each person you'd like to have their own iTunes library to use with their own Apple ID.

How to switch between iTunes libraries

Now that you've set up an iTunes library for each person in your household, the rest is easy. You can easily switch between the libraries in just a few taps.

  1. Completely quit iTunes and make sure it is not running in the background. Now hold down either alt/option on your Mac or Shift on your PC and click to open iTunes just like you did to create your libraries.
  2. Instead of creating one, this time you'll select the option for Choose Library....
  3. Navigate to the library you'd like to use and select Open.
  4. That's it. You can close out iTunes when you're done and the next person can do the same thing and open their own iTunes library.

This process will allow each person to have their own personalized library that isn't filled with stuff they don't use by other people who use that same computer. That means your own apps, music, tv shows, music, and other media types that you purchase will only filter into your library, not everyone else's - as long as you're using your own Apple ID's.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to use multiple Apple ID's with one computer and iTunes


Thanks for the info. An issue I have is that I actually created another user account on our computer to accomplish kind of what you are doing. How can I transfer that data to the new library?

Allyson, is this the only option for multiple iPhone users to have their own iCloud storage or is there another way for multiple Apple ID's to share one iTunes account?

Would each created account have to buy a paid app? Is there any way to share apps other than to be under the same Apple ID?

Just sign out of one account on your device and log into the account that has the app you want and download from Purchased under Updates tab on app store. My wife and I do that when one of us buys an app that the other might like.

Really? That's what you pulled out of that?! I am a female with finance apps and cooking apps. I was making an easy to comprehend point. Wow. Just wow.

You are the best ever. I don't need to do this but now I can teach my best friend and his girlfriend how so they don't get their things mixed up.
Now thanks to them I can impress them with my knowledge but I will give you the credit. :)

Whoa, this article could land some users in never never land. It works as described unless iTunes Match or Automatic Downloads are enabled.

In those cases, the Mac is treated as a single user device much the same as iOS devices are, and switching from one AppleID to another triggers a 90 day lockout on the previous ID. This holds true if you use multiple iTunes libraries under one user account, multiple user accounts on the same hardware, or different boot drives on the same CPU.

See this tech note for a partial explanation:

"Partial" because Apple has published conflicting tech notes about this topic and does not explicitly denote the differences between "classic" iTunes and iTunes in the cloud.

Robert is correct. My hubby and I use a single computer and two separate iTunes accounts, and if we log in and purchase music, it all goes into a single library. We prefer it this way, so that we can share some of our purchases without any hassle. However, when he recently purchased an album on his iPad and wanted to transfer the music to his iPod nano, it proved impossible. We would normally just log into his iTunes account and tell it to download any purchases. Nothing. Then I found the purchased album in iCloud, but it gave the '90 day lockout' error message when we attempted to download it to our computer. Talk about insanely Byzantine! If he had just purchased it via the computer, there would be no problem, but purchase on a mobile device and all bets are off. So now, he can't listen to his album on his nano because it doesn't have iCloud connectivity. This is crazy.

Hi Chapps.

Could you let me know how you have your setup done. My wife and I have just married and would like all our music to be in one library that either of us can put onto our iPhones. We each have our own Apple ID and have purchased music that we would like on both devices. Does this also work for pictures?

Robert is correct and since most people use the cloud and all of the automated features it provides, this article should be ignored completely - horrible advice unless it contains the disclaimer that it does not work with apps (as if that would be convenient).

The big assumption this doesn't state is that this is for people sharing the same user account. Otherwise, if people sharing a computer have separate user accounts, each gets a separate music library by default as well as mail, contacts, calendars, etc. Enable fast user switching for convenience.

Not true at all. As Robert stated, once you have automatic app downloads enabled, which most people who are trying to utilize the convenience of the cloud do, it treats the machine individually, regardless of user accounts. Once you authorize on one user account, the other is disabled. Try to return it to the status quo and you are locked out for 90 days.

I agree with Ryan's point above mine. If you're bent on having your own library you might as well create your own OS X/Windows account.

Regardless, great article!

I understand the creating different libraries, what I don't understand is how the different ID's are associated to each library. We have a shared account. One person moved out and I need to give them their stuff, but retain my stuff, and It's a tad hostile, so I don't want them to have my apple ID information-since with it, they could access my account information and lock me out. I'd like to create their library and associate it to their NEW ID. Make sense?

Great article, but here's my peculiar problem: I needed to download the 'kindle for iOS' app onto my iPad, but it unfortunately isn't available to my country. Is there a way I can create another ID using a supported country (but still on the same device) so I can get the app? I really need to get some books in the kindle format from amazon and I can't afford the amazon kindle right now. Regards

I like to know what is going on here my mom has an iPod nano 6th generation & I have a 7th generation iPod nano & she has her apple id & I have my apple id but the problem is that when I log in with my apple id it shows all her music in my apple id why does it do that & how do I fix it so it doesn't do that

Thanks Ally! Now how do we get The Cloud talking to multiple id's and devices? Can different iPhones/iPads/id's share one cloud or should multiple clouds be linked (this would be a tempest)?

This is my major issue.. I have recently gotten a divorce and me and my oldest son decided to use the same accounts, etc. I was left the the oldest IPad...and am now using my bf"s older laptop.I'm used to using the latest technology and well, I'm sooo not... My Ipad is crashing on me so bad right now. The apps have been crashing(closing at random times), it keeps asking me for the Apple Id password for an OLD ACCOUNT. I had(thought) I had this all worked out but i do not.. I had my own ID until my son wanted to share Icloud accounts and Itune accounts so we could use the app, find my iphone... every 5 seconds it ask me to enter this password for the apple account and it isnt the right ipad won't even keep my setting's app open long enough for me to work with it so I am forced to use this old laptop.. When the kids are here they never have time to help me with this issue and when I'm there with them at their dad's..I'm terrified that my things will sync or stream to his or I'm afraid to let him touch it bc he could have it fixed in a second. Yeah, he got all the good crap..He had NEVER touched a pc until meeting me and I was the computer wiz but he took over and I gladly let him take over that role... now he is a bit of a genius, as well as my kids, when it comes to, not so much these days..Anyway, I went step by step on this site and when I made sure that Itunes wasn't running in the background and tried to do the SHIFT thing to pull up that screen, NOTHING! HELP ME PLEASE..I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT MY IPAD... My Iphone is perfect.. I did it with my son a while back before it was too late.. also my bf has his own Itunes on here..on this computer, if that is any help...
Thank you in advance,