Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Multiple Apple ID Accounts

John Gruber:

The problem I was running into [here] was a bug that resulted from the fact I have split Apple ID accounts: one account for iTunes and App Store purchases, and a separate account for my Apple ID.


Everything is simpler if you only have one Apple ID that you use for both iCloud and iTunes/App Store purchases. The reason I never switched to using my iCloud account for everything, including purchases, is that there’s never been a way to migrate old purchases from a different account. And I’ve bought a lot of music, movies, and apps over the years using my other account.


This situation I ran into — seeing a promotion for a three-month Apple Arcade trial despite the fact that I pay for Apple One (which includes Arcade) — is just one of those glitches. Most Apple One subscribers don’t have split accounts, so they never saw the unnecessary promotion.

I have multiple accounts, too. One started with iTunes purchases. Another was created for .Mac/iTools. Another is for the developer program and was initially based around a person number and a name, but it eventually became a true Apple ID tied to an e-mail address. I don’t want to merge them, but I worry about Apple increasingly assuming that everything on the device is signed into the same account.

Glenn Fleishman:

In hindsight, Apple should have, somewhere in the last 10 years, offered a consolidation option. I and so many people I know have split accounts for historical reasons…and the fragile rigidity of the Apple ID and purchasing system and records.

And it’s not just purchases, since iCloud data is also locked to an account. A lot of people also use a separate account to share data and purchases in a family, due to longstanding limitations of Family Sharing.

Adam Chandler:

Many millions of us have two accounts who had iTools back in the day. Amazing that apple has offered no way to merge them yet.

John Gordon:

I’ve had LOTS of issues over years from having split accounts.

Kirk McElhearn:

For me, it’s even more complicated. Not only do I have two Apple IDs, but they are in two different countries. It is impossible for me to move my main Apple ID to the country in which I live. Because reasons.

Alex Brooks:

I agree that having split Apple accounts can sometimes be a pain, my path for having this is the same as [Gruber’s]. But I enjoy the security via obscurity aspect of it, my iCloud email is unknown (I never use it for email), and my iTunes email is at my main domain but obscure. Makes phishing almost impossible—and after all my iCloud account is probably the most precious of them all.


Update (2023-05-03): John Gordon:

How we did our family transition

Update (2023-05-05): Noah Liebman:

I really like having two Apple IDs. I can sign into the App Store and Apple Music on my work computer, but not have my messages, calendar, and contacts show up on a machine where I don’t want them.

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Since about a week ago, I cannot login to my account in the Mac App Store app any more because it keeps, when using Sign In…, suggesting my iCloud account - but I use a different account for the Store, and if I enter that, with the correct password, it doesn't show an error (it does when I use the wrong pw), but won't log me in either. So I cannot update my apps any more on this Mac (it's still on High Sierra, don't laugh). This used to work.

Kirk McElhearn

In 2013, I wrote an article for Macworld about merging Apple IDs, and why this was needed.

I linked to a MacRumors article, quoting an email from Tim Cook to a customer saying that they were working on merging Apple IDs. That occurred in 2011.

That was more than 20 years ago. I simply can’t understand why Apple has not made this possible.

@Kirk: Ha, wow, I remember that article :) and being hopeful because Tim Cook said that...

If it’s hard to understand from the outside, it’s usually because of the contract clauses Apple has to sign to appease the record labels and movie studios. I think.

Actually, I cannot even login to the MAS app with my iCloud account on the High Sierra system any more, even after a reboot. This was never a problem before. In some attempts I see a "503 service not available" error. Quite concerning.

Having a family with Apple IDs in more than one country sucks hard. I get that there are country restrictions and different app stores (e.g. no Google Earth in the Korea App Store), but it should be possible to add my one family member who started their Apple journey in the second country to the family share in the first country for something simple like streaming music from the Apple One package, which is really all that family member cares about. Alas, this is not possible. What is possible is having that family member have another Apple ID in the first country and adding them that way. That's not a solution, not really.

@Thomas Tempelmann

Your High Sierra problems might be something else. I am logged into both iCloud and the Mac App Store on the 2011 iMac I am using right now. I still get app updates (the ones that still support 10.13) too. This is in South Korea logging into a US Apple ID and the US Mac App Store.

Marc Stibane

if you think you have troubles with managing two AppleID accounts - what would you think if you moved into another state, say from New York to New Jersey, and needed to get a new AppleID to be able to install i.e. the local official Covid19 app? Or an app from your local bank in your new home city, because that is not available with your old AppleID from your old state?
Sounds ridiculous, right?
But exactly that is the case here in Europe, where each European state has their own App Store, because it’s another “country”. I moved from Germany to Austria *) some years ago, and needed an Austrian account for official apps from the government and banks being available only in the Austrian app store, but cannot give up my German AppleID for the same reason as you. And I also have a US AppleID account because in the first iPhone years (2008..2015), many apps were only available there. That reason now is gone, almost every commercial seller wants to offer their app to the whole world nowadays, but I have to manage _three_ AppleID accounts from different countries.

My German AppleID is my Apple Developer identity since 30 years. It’s not only purchases and apps, but all my bugs (Radar, now Feedback), etc.pp are bound to this account. I can’t give that up. But Apple wouldn’t let me add my Austrian credit card as payment method, or even my (also Austrian) Paypal account. So to be able to pay with the German AppleID I need to buy German Apple gift cards and redeem them.

The EU is sooo slow when it comes to forcing large corporations to treat all European citizens equally. There is already a law enforcing that all banks using the EURO currency must be accepted everywhere - a European company cannot force you to use a bank from their country for payments. But Apple does…
We need a common European App Store with a European AppleID - and a way to migrate old “country” accounts into it. And -like you- be able to merge accounts. Sadly far to few European politicians are running into such problems to address this in European parliament. And of course Apple’s developers based in the Bay Area never have heard of it, nor can imagine moving to another country and wanting to not loose all their history.

Since it’ll take the EU at least ten years to enforce such common EU identity, my hope is in voices like yours to draw attention to this problem. Please write a Follow-Up about moving to another country (with a different App Store), and publicly call on Apple to implement a method to either allow multiple accounts to be used simultaneously (not only one for iCloud and one for purchases), or be able to merge accounts (transfer assets from one to another).

Greetings from Vienna,

*) Austria (9 million inhabitants) has a similar culture and language (German dialect) as the larger Bavaria (13 million), which is only a federal state / province of Germany (82 million). The difference between northern Germany (Hamburg, Berlin) and Bavaria (Munich) is way bigger, like NY/NJ vs Texas.

I recently discovered that you can now rename an Apple ID either to another Apple address or back to a third-party address; it used to be the case that if your ID was at an Apple domain, you were stuffed and could not rename it elsewhere. That was a problem if your email address was an iCloud address, instead of an address at any other provider or at your own domain. I can understand why, up 'til this change, people would "split" their IDs for that reason, keeping their iTunes content away from the iCloud side of it (assuming they had turned on or intended to turn on Apple Mail, which is a one-time process), but it shouldn't pose an obstacle now. And it means that you can render an undesirable iCloud email address no longer functional, by renaming the Apple ID completely and then getting rid of the alias they provide you to keep the old address valid for mail. It's all very horrible though; far better would be if you could just turn off iCloud Mail and use a different primary address as a contact point, even if you keep the email address itself as an ID for authentication purposes.

Same here, I have two AppleIDs, one from iTunes and one from MobileMe. I've long wanted to merge them, but it's impossible. Some day, maybe, I hope.

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