How to customize and maintain your Apple ID across multiple devices

You can use Apple ID on multiple devices, but trouble can arise if you don’t plan your strategy. Customize how your Apple ID works on your Mac, iPhone, and more using these tips.

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Apple IDs can be used on multiple devices, but if the settings are not configured properly, problems can occur. Of course, linking an Apple ID to an Apple device offers the opportunity to download and install previously purchased apps, access the photos and videos associated with that account, and automatically sync and backup. files using iCloud.

There are many reasons why you might want to associate your Apple ID with a device while also restricting the components that the device can access. For example, while you might want to get apps on your employer-provided iPad, you might not want that device to have access to your iCloud photos or emails. In other cases, you may need to use iCloud to automatically back up files on your Mac but not your iPhone, or you may want to view photos on your Apple TV but not allow purchases on that same device.

Here’s how to use your Apple account on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, and customize the settings to best meet your needs.

How to combine an Apple ID with an Apple device

The process begins by linking your Apple device to your Apple ID, a setup step that is included by default with Apple devices. However, in case you skipped that step before, or if you want to change the Apple ID associated with a device, you can do so using the following steps.

On iPhone and iPad, go to Settings, then tap the Apple ID entry located at the top of the screen. When using Apple TV, you can change the Apple ID associated with the set top box by choosing Settings, then Users and Accounts. In the Apple TV’s Users and Accounts menu, you can choose from the default user or additional user options. On a Mac, access the Apple ID associated with your laptop or desktop by opening System Preferences (by clicking the Apple icon from your Mac’s menu bar), then clicking the ID section Apple at the top of the window.

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How to configure different Apple account components with Apple devices

Once you’ve linked your Apple ID to a device, a multitude of options allow you to enable or disable various Apple account components with that device. macOS allows to independently enable or disable all of the following Apple ID elements, as outlined in Picture A:

  • Photos and videos
  • Keychain password
  • Private forwarding service
  • Hide My Email Services
  • iCloud Drive
  • Email iCloud
  • Contact
  • Calendar
  • Remind
  • Note
  • Safari bookmarks and activities
  • Find My Mac Location Information
  • News
  • Inventory
  • Home
  • Siri

Picture A

Apple menu screenshot.
Some components may be allowed or prevented from working with Apple devices associated with an Apple ID.

Multiple individual components also allow customization of multiple corresponding elements. For example, for iCloud, you can turn all of the following features on or off, examples of them are shown in Figure BUGon the Apple device to which you linked the Apple ID:

  • Desktop & Documents folder
  • Automation
  • Map
  • Message
  • Preview
  • QuickTime Player
  • Script Editor
  • Edit text
  • Home band
  • Book
  • iMovie
  • Mainstream
  • Numbers
  • Pages
  • Letters
  • Shortcuts
  • General control
  • Weather
  • System Preferences

Figure BUG

Apple iCloud menu screenshot
Many Apple account components can be enabled or disabled with Apple devices that provide an additional set of configuration options, as shown here with iCloud.

Often other app options also appear in iCloud. Affinity Photo, Byword, iA Writer and Pixelmator are among the programs that allow to individually configure iCloud sync and backup settings.

Just how do those settings work? Let’s say you want to link your Apple ID to your Mac or iPad to allow access to Mail and install apps you’ve previously purchased on your new device, but you don’t want to link other elements — including your photos, Safari activity, or location—with that device. In such cases, you can simply clear the respective checkboxes for the items — Photos, Safari, and Find My Mac, respectively — you want to unlink that device.

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How to set Apple TV restrictions

On Apple TV, you can access and enable or disable certain elements associated with your Apple ID, including Apple Store, iCloud, and Photos permissions. To access these settings on Apple TV, select Settings, then click Users & Accounts. Select the appropriate user (my Apple ID is set as the default user, although accounts may also be listed in the additional users section if you have linked multiple accounts to the device) and note Store and iCloud preferences. Just select the Store or iCloud option you want to change and sign out of the respective account for the respective option. Apple TV also lets you turn iCloud photos and shared albums on and off. Simply select the corresponding entry and select Off to disable those features that work with that device.

Apple TV includes additional settings that tighten the device’s access to Apple IDs. You can specify that your Apple TV requires your Apple ID password every time you make a purchase by going to Settings, choosing Users and Accounts, and setting Require Password to always require a password when making purchases. You can also turn off purchases from within the Restrictions menu in Apple TV’s General Settings, where you can turn off iTunes Store purchases and rentals, as well as in-app purchases. You can also request the use of a passcode from the same Restrictions menu.


Linking your Apple ID to multiple devices expands the usefulness and capabilities offered by your Apple Store account and iCloud syncing and backup, among other options. However, cases often arise when you want to eliminate specific possibilities. These steps demonstrate the many customizations Apple’s developers have put into the company’s most popular hardware offerings.

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