How to customize and maintain Apple IDs on multiple devices

You can use Apple IDs on multiple devices, but trouble can arise if you don’t plan your strategy. Customize Apple ID operation on Macs, iPhones and more using these tips.

MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 27, 2020: Flat lay composition with iPhone 11, MacBook laptop and iPad tablets on wooden table
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Apple IDs can be used on multiple devices, but if settings aren’t configured properly, issues can occur. Associating an Apple ID with an Apple device, of course, provides the opportunity to download and install previously purchased applications, access the photos and videos associated with that account and automatically synchronize and back up files using iCloud.

There are multiple reasons you might wish to associate your Apple ID with a device while also limiting which components the device can access. While you might wish to load applications on an iPad provided by your employer, for example, you may not want that device to have access to your photos or iCloud email. In other cases, you might need to use iCloud to automatically back up files on a Mac but not an iPhone or you may wish to view photos on an Apple TV but not permit purchases on that same device.

Here’s how to use your Apple account on Macs, iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs, while also customizing settings to best meet your needs.

How to associate an Apple ID with an Apple device

The process begins by associating your Apple device with your Apple ID, a setup step included by default with Apple devices. In the event you previously skipped that step, though, or if you wish to change the Apple ID associated with a device, you can do so using the following steps.

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

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How to configure various Apple account components with an Apple device

Once you associate an Apple ID with a device, a multitude of options permit enabling or disabling various Apple account components with that device. macOS permits independently enabling or disabling all the following Apple ID elements, as demonstrated in Figure A:

  • Photos and videos
  • Keychain passwords
  • Private relay services
  • Hide My Email services
  • iCloud Drive
  • iCloud Email
  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Reminders
  • Notes
  • Safari bookmarks and activity
  • Find My Mac location information
  • News
  • Stocks
  • Home
  • Siri

Figure A

Screen shot of Apple menu.
A number of components can be permitted or blocked from working with the Apple device upon which an Apple ID is associated.

Many of those individual components permit customizing a variety of corresponding elements, too. For example, for iCloud, you can enable or disable all the following, examples of which are shown in Figure B, on an Apple device with which you’ve associated an Apple ID:

  • Desktop & Documents Folders
  • Automator
  • Maps
  • Messages
  • Preview
  • QuickTime Player
  • Script Editor
  • TextEdit
  • GarageBand
  • Books
  • iMovie
  • Keynote
  • Numbers
  • Pages
  • Mail
  • Shortcuts
  • Universal Control
  • Weather
  • System Preferences

Figure B

Screen shot of Apple iCloud menu
Many Apple account components that can be enabled or disabled with an Apple device offer an additional set of configuration options, as shown here with iCloud.

Often other application options appear within iCloud, too. Affinity Photo, Byword, iA Writer and Pixelmator are among the programs that permit individually configuring iCloud backup and synchronization settings.

Just how do those settings come into play? Say you wish to associate your Apple ID with a Mac or iPad to enable accessing Mail and installing applications you’ve previously purchased on a new device, but you don’t wish to associate other elements—including photos, Safari activity or your location—with that device. In such cases, you could simply clear the corresponding checkboxes for the items—Photos, Safari and Find My Mac, respectively—you wish to disassociate with that device.

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How to set Apple TV restrictions

On an Apple TV, you can access and enable or disable several specific components associated with an Apple ID, including Apple Store, iCloud and Photo permissions. To access these settings on an Apple TV, select Settings, then click Users and Accounts. Select the appropriate user (my Apple ID is set as the default user, although accounts can also be listed under additional users if you’ve associated more than one account with the device) and note the Store and iCloud options. Simply select the Store or iCloud option you wish to change and sign out of the corresponding account for the respective option. Apple TVs also permit enabling and disabling iCloud photos and shared albums. Just select the corresponding entry and choose Off to disable those features from working with that device.

Apple TVs include additional settings that permit tightening the device’s access to an Apple ID. You can specify that an Apple TV requires your Apple ID password every time a purchase is made by going to Settings, selecting Users and Accounts and setting Require Password to always require a password when making purchases. You can also disable purchases from within an Apple TV’s General settings’ Restrictions menu, where iTunes Store purchases and rentals can be disabled, as can in-app purchases. You can also require the use of a passcode from the same Restrictions menu.


Associating your Apple ID with multiple devices helps extend the usefulness and capabilities provided by Apple Store accounts and iCloud synchronization and backup, among other options. But, occasions often arise when you wish to remove specific capabilities. These steps demonstrate the many customizations Apple developers have included within the company’s most popular hardware offerings.

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