Apple IDs and Sync’ing

imageFor Apple devices like iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers, your Apple ID (an email address) provides your identity. Your Apple ID is the key to seeing the contents of your online accounts with Apple – both iTunes/App Store and iCloud. Your Apple ID is kind of like your fingerprint in giving you access to your information. Synchronizing means using your Apple ID to identify your iCloud account, send data such as pictures and contacts from your phone to your iCloud account, then copy that data to any other devices identified by the same Apple ID. This makes your personal data show up on multiple devices. If it’s set up properly, it means you can add a contact using your phone – and that contact will be there when you look on your computer. Take a picture with your phone, and you can see it on your iPad in just a minute.

But, if you don’t use it right, watch out! Let me give you a few examples:

  1. Harold bought a new iPhone and he gave his old one to his daughter, Susan. He didn’t bother to wipe it clean first, and Susan didn’t change the Apple ID recorded in the phone’s settings. She just started using the phone as she normally would. She used the calendar to enter reminders for when she needed to refill her birth control prescription. This reminder shows up on her Dad’s phone, because it was using the same Apple ID to identify his calendar!
  2. Eric and his wife, Wanda, use the same Apple ID because they want to only pay once for Apps that both of them use. They should have used the Family settings instead. When Wanda takes pictures with her iPhone, they are sent to the iCloud Photo Stream for her Apple ID – which is the same as Eric’s Apple ID – and those pictures show up on Eric’s imagephone. Any pictures Eric takes also show up on Wanda’s phone. Their contacts and Notes will also be the same.
  3. The movie Sex Tape, tells the story of a young couple who decide to record a sex tape of themselves, using an iPad. It takes them a while to realize that their old iPads that they had given away as Christmas gifts to family and friends, were still using their Apple ID – so the sex tape was being synchronized to those old iPads. They were mortified that their parents, and their mailman, could now watch their sex tape on the iPads that they gave them.

Lessons to Learn

So, what are the lessons to be learned here? First, you should know your Apple ID – and the password associated with it. To find out what Apple ID is being used for any iPhone or iPad, go to your settings, then iCloud – you’ll see the email address (Apple ID) right under the words iCloud. Also check the iTunes & App Store settings and you’ll see an Apple ID listed there. Although you can use different emails for iCloud and iTunes, it is highly recommended that you use the same one.  You also need to know the password. If you tap on View Apple ID, you will be prompted for a password. If you don’t know that password, it is best to go to a computer and a web browser to go to That is where you can try your passwords, and reset it if you’ve forgotten your password.

Second, your Apple ID is YOUR Apple ID, you should not let anyone else use it. It is like your fingerprint for your devices. These are very personal devices meant to handle your information, and synchronize that information to other devices that are yours.

Third, if you do have a family who wants to share Apps, you can set up the Family settings. Each member of the family, with their own unique Apple IDs, can be listed as members on one Family and one member of the Family can be designated as the “organizer” of the Family.

Fourth, if you give an old device away, you should wipe it clean first! Find instructions on on Apple’s website to Erase al content and settings on your iPhone, iPad.