Family Sharing makes it easy for the whole family to share apps, movies and music. In this feature, we look at Apple Family Sharing and provide the answers to nine of the most common questions about the new feature.

Family Sharing is a new feature from Apple that will enable you to share the things you buy from iTunes with other people. Here are nine things you need to know about Family Sharing:


1. What is iOS Family Sharing?

Family Sharing is a new feature introduced by Apple on 2 June 12014, at WWDC (its Worldwide Developers Conference). With Family Sharing up to six people can share purchases from the iTunes Store with each other. The idea is that if one member of the family buys something from iTunes, the whole family can enjoy it on their device. It also includes new iOS family-focused features for Calendar and Photos apps that help a family stay connected.

Note: Craig Federighi talks about Family Sharing at 1:11:29

2. When is Family Sharing going to be available?

It's out now.

Family Sharing was part of the iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite update and arrived in the autumn. It was rolled out automatically as part of the iOS 8 and Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite upgrade cycle.


3. How do I set up Apple Family sharing on my iPhone, iPad or Mac?

The Family Sharing setup process

Setting up Family Sharing is a quick and simple process that you can run through quickly on an iPad, iPhone or Mac (we think it's a little easier on the iOS devices, but it's a close-run thing).

One member of the family sets up Apple Family Sharing from their device and uses the new Family settings inside iOS 8 or Mac OS Yosemite to add another (up to) five members of their family. These then receive invitations on their iOS device to join that family. Once the person has accepted the Family Sharing invitation they will be able to join that Family Sharing Group.

For a more detailed explanation of the process, see How to set up Family Sharing.

4. What can I share with Apple Family Sharing?

Things you can share with Apple Family Sharing

With Family Sharing, you will get immediate access to either other's apps and iTunes content. You can download these directly to your own device without having to share an Apple ID or password.

Apple has announced the following iTunes content is eligible for Family Sharing:

  • iTunes
  • Music
  • Movies
  • TV Shows
  • Books
  • Apps

It’s worth noting that Apps become part of Family Sharing only with developer support. Apple is pushing developers to use Family Sharing as feature in their apps.

5. What is the Family Sharing Photos album?

Apple Family Sharing photo stream

With Family Sharing turned on you can also create a special photo album in the Photos app. The Family Sharing photo stream is a space where you and your family can share photos, videos and comments with each other. It should be a great way to put all your pictures and thoughts in one place.

See: Up and running with Photo Stream

6. What is Family Sharing Calendar?

Apple Family Sharing Calendar

Once Family Sharing is set up you will also have a calendar that is shared across your entire family. According to Apple: "Now everybody in the family can add events to one calendar. You can even set up family reminders that will appear on everyone's devices at the exact time or place you choose."

See: iOS 8 changes we'd like to see: Calendar and Reminders

7. Will Family Sharing help parents keep track of children?

Apple Family Sharing Find My Friends

Yes, Family Sharing integrates directly with Apple’s Find My Friends app. Find My Friends is an Apple app that provides a map and real-time information on the location of other people. With Family Sharing turned on you can automatically share the location of each of your family members to find out where they are. You will also be able to hide your location if you want to go incognito from your family for a while.

Read next: Best iPad & iPhone apps for kids | Best iPad cases for kids | Is it safe for kids to use an iPad?

8. How can I use Family Sharing to locate lost family devices?

Another neat feature of Family Sharing is that it integrates with Find My Devices. With Find My Devices you can locate lost iPads and iPhones from members of your family. This Family Sharing feature will be great if your kids misplace an iPhone or iPad because you will be able to find it from your own account.

See: How to use Find My iPhone

9. Can I keep my kids safe with Apple Family Sharing?

Apple Family Sharing Ask To Buy and parental controls

According to Apple: "Family Sharing supports parental controls and also allows parents to approve purchases and downloads initiated by children in their Family." So it won't be a case of kids can get at everything on your iPhone. There is an 'Ask to buy' option where children have to get your permission before purchasing iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases.

You can read all about the new features in Yosemite over in our Yosemite Topic Zone. And you can read more about iOS 8 tutorials over in our iOS 8 topic zone including: