Can I change or reset my Apple ID? And is it possible to delete my Apple ID permanently?

You can't get far in the world of Apple products and services without an Apple ID. Happily, it's incredibly easy to set one up. You then use your Apple ID to access a plethora of services, such as iCloud, Find My iPhone, iTunes Match and Apple Music, as well as make purchases from iTunes and download Podcasts.

If you own an iPhone, an iPad or almost any other modern Apple device, sooner or later you're likely to end up with an Apple ID. This essentially consists of a single login, your Apple ID - usually your name followed by,, or - and a password.

In this article we explain not only how to set up an Apple ID, but also how to find out what your Apple ID is, how to find (or change) your Apple ID password, and how to get the most from your Apple ID account. Last of all, we look at the terminal option: deleting your Apple ID permanently. Read next: How to check Apple ID balance | How to change Apple ID payment information

What's an Apple ID?

An Apple ID is your passport into the ever-expanding Apple universe, and it takes the form of an email address and a password.

You'll need an Apple ID for everything from booking an appointment at the local Apple Store's Genius Bar, to making a FaceTime call, to setting up Apple Pay, to buying music, movies and apps. An Apple ID is also used to access your iCloud data and services, which includes tools such as iMessage, email, Reminders, Notes, Calendars, Photos storage, and so on.

More than this, however, is the fact that the Apple ID links your Apple devices or computers to each other, and to you. By logging in to Apple hardware with your Apple ID, you're telling Apple that it belongs to you, and that your shared data, apps and services can be made accessible on it.

It's possible to use a Mac or iOS device without an Apple ID but it would be a significantly diminished experience. For example, without an Apple ID you can't log into the App Store, so won't be able to download new apps on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

In fact, if you own anything Apple then the chances are you've got an Apple ID already.

How to create an Apple ID

You can sign up for an Apple ID by visiting Apple's ID section of its website here and clicking Create An Apple ID.

How to change, create or reset Apple ID is your gateway to managing and creating Apple IDs online

There's no requirement to have an Apple product to link the ID to, allowing anybody to create an account in preparation for purchasing – or even if you're merely a curious Windows or Linux user.

A free unlinked account provides limited access to iCloud, in order to use the online versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and you'll get 1GB of free iCloud storage to boot. However, aside from accessing this storage space from the aforementioned web-based apps, you can't access it any other way - for example, via the iCloud Windows for Windows app - unless you first link the Apple ID to a Mac or iOS device by signing in there.

How to change, create or reset Apple ID: iCloud

If you don't link your Apple ID to an iOS device or Mac then you're limited to accessing online iWork tools

When creating an Apple ID you need to provide an email address for your username. Rather perversely, this can't be for an existing email account that's provided by Apple, and it can't be an address previously used for an Apple ID.

Don't be tempted to provide false details here because a confirmation email will be sent to the address, and you'll need to click the link within it before your Apple ID is opened for business.

Further down the application form you're required to enter a second, different email address for rescue purposes, such as resetting your password. This address will be used very rarely and this time around the address can be one already used for an Apple ID. You could provide the email address of your spouse, for example, although again there's a requirement to confirm by clicking a link in an email sent to the address.

To create an Apple ID you'll need to provide your date of birth, fill in some security questions, and give your mailing address. Don't be tempted to enter false details here either because Apple will be using all the details later to confirm you are who you say you are.

In particular, ensure you enter the correct country details because Apple runs separate Music, Movie and App Stores for different territories. If you live in Birmingham but pretend to be living in Antigua then it will become tricky when you come to enter credit card details in order to make purchases. Not only will your billing address not be within that beautiful Caribbean island, but you'll also be limited to items sold through Antigua's local iTunes and Apps Stores.

Creating an Apple ID for a child

Children under the age of 13 are unable to create Apple IDs themselves, although a parent or guardian can create one for them as part of the Family Sharing system, detailed below. This also allows a parent or guardian to put a credit card against the account for the child to use to make purchases - with supervision, of course.

Once you've set up Family Sharing, on your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, tap Settings > iCloud > Family, and then Add Family Member. then click the link marked Create An Apple ID For a Child. On a Mac, open System Preferences, click the iCloud icon, then click Manage Family. Click the plus button at the bottom left, then select Create An Apple ID For A Child Who Doesn't Have An Account.

How to change, create or reset Apple ID: ID for child

Using the Family Sharing element of iCloud you can create Apple IDs for children under 13 years old

Note that you can't set up a child's Apple ID if there's no credit or debit card associated with your own Apple ID. You will need to provide the card's CCV number as part of the setup process. Apple says this is in place to conform with online child protection laws in that it provides verifiable proof of your home address.

Next: Apple ID security