Best of Both Worlds: Using Two Apple IDs on One iOS Device

I've had my Apple ID since the days of .Mac, long before there was MobileMe and even iCloud.  Sometime a few years ago - in the MobileMe era - I started to see the lack of value in paying $99 per year for a MobileMe account and started using Google's offerings for email, calendar and contact management.  It sucked, but I couldn't justify paying such a hefty price tag to Apple for the same privilege.  For about two years, I suffered through Google's douchebaggery with their funky implementations of CalDAV and absurdly asinine and non-standard Gmail functions.  When Apple announced iCloud several weeks ago, I was ecstatic, but quickly realized the fundamental problem - all my music and iOS apps were purchased under my old Apple ID and not my new one.  How would the devices work reliably with seemingly impending licensing conflicts?

If you're like me you might be frustrated to no end that Apple doesn't allow for a merge of multiple ID's into one universal account.  I can only guess that it has something to do with massive licensing issues with music and movies.  Thus, I'm stuck managing multiple ID's between my MacBook Pro, iPhone and iPad 2.  With a bit of luck and some poking around in the System Preferences of each device and some iTunes mojo, I was able to get it to work well.  Here's how. (I strongly recommend reading through ALL of the steps below before attempting them to understand the process.  If you have any questions, post them in the comments and I'll do my best to reply to each of them.)

  1. Make sure you have both the email address and working password for each of your Apple IDs.  It sounds silly to mention this, but believe me, it will be a huge pain-in-the-ass if you think you know what your password is and you really don't.
  2. Before you even think about touching any of your devices, your first stop is in iTunes to change your Apple ID in the iTunes Store.  Launch iTunes and go to the Store link on the left of the window that opens.  Then click your Apple ID in the upper right hand corner and click sign out (bottom left of the resulting dialog box asking for your ID's password).  Once you're signed out, sign back in with your new Apple ID and check the upper right hand corner of the Store section to make sure it's successful.  Once you see your new Apple ID there, you're ready to move on to the next step.
  3. If you have more than one iOS device like I do, pick one to start with.  I chose my iPhone first, simply because it was the most handy.  There will be two sections you'll have to update within iOS: the Store and Music Preferences.  Start with the Store preferences, since that's what controls your licensing on your device.  Scroll to the bottom of the preference pane and click on the box that contains the Apple ID you're currently using.  You'll see a resulting dialog box with options to View Apple ID, Sign Out and change your password with iForgot.  Click Sign Out and immediately sign back in with your new Apple ID.  You'll need to scroll up to the top of the Store pane and turn on your automatic downloads again, but be warned - Apple will only let you change your ID once every 90 days.  Once you change it, you're locked in for three months and you won't be able to change it back.
  4. I was able to test the use of multiple ID's since I had an app update hanging out in the Store before I did the changeover.  After the changeover, when I went into the App Store and performed my updates, it presented my OLD Apple ID that I used to purchase the application at that time and asked me for my password.  I entered it in and voila - the app started updating!
  5. The next step, carrying over from Step #3 is to change the Apple ID the Home Sharing pane uses to control your data.  While it's not required, it's easier for me to have my devices use the same Home Sharing account, since I also have an Apple TV.  To do this, go to the Music preferences and click the box showing the Apple ID that Home Sharing is using.  Delete it and enter your new information in the boxes.  Remember to change your Home Sharing ID on your desktop or laptop Mac and your Apple TV if you  have one, otherwise Home Sharing will stop working for you.

My experience has been that after you update to your new Apple ID, you'll start to purchase music, movies and apps under that ID and anything you purchased with your OLD Apple ID will stay under that old ID, however, it seems that the iTunes servers are smart enough to realize that and prompt you for that ID's password to update previously purchased apps.    The only problem that you might encounter that the above method won't solve is if you should delete an application and try to reinstall it.  Since you're device or computer will be linked to a new Apple ID, it will read that ID and look for a license for that application.  When it sees none on the server, it will prompt you to purchase the application.  I don't recommend this method for people who are fickle with installing applications and deleting them the next day, simply because if you ever change your mind, you'll wind up losing money.  However, if you're careful with your app purchases and you want to merge your accounts and can't, this might be a good alternative for you to try.