Whose iPhone is this? The problem with couples sharing one Apple ID.

An iPhone is identified by the Apple ID it uses.

Something we see a lot with iPhones is that 2 people are sharing the same Apple ID. Let’s say that Mrs. Jones gets a new iPhone and gives her old one to Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones hasn’t had any smartphone before, so he’s glad to get the hand-me-down that his wife will surely be able to teach him. They don’t bother to wipe it clean because there might be something useful on there, like a contact list. But, after a while, Mr. Jones gets irritated when he keeps getting his wife’s imessages, photos, and other notifications. After all, this is his phone now, how does he stop getting her stuff?

An iPhone’s owner is designated by the Apple ID. Even if spouses don’t get a hand-me-down, many of them share the same Apple ID. This is a problem. I ask Mr. Jones to go to his iPhone’s settings. Right at the top is the name of the phone’s owner, with the Apple ID. Even if he changed the name to his, if the Apple ID is still his wife’s email address, then her account is in control of this phone and is accessing all her information.

Want to know who an iPhone belongs to? Ask Siri. Launch Siri on the iPhone in question and ask “Who does this iPhone belong to?”

One person, one account, one Apple ID

Apple accounts are intended to be for one person only. One person, one account, one Apple ID.

Want to share information? Consider setting up Family sharing to do that. With family sharing, you can purchase apps and music that can be shared by everyone in the family. You can also have a shared family photo album, a shared calendar, and shared reminders.

How to change the owner of an iPhone

So, what to do? How does Mr. Jones make this his phone? There are 2 steps:

  1. Stop it from being Mrs. Jone’s phone: Remove her account from the phone
  2. Start it as Mr. Jone’s phone: Get an Apple ID for him and add that to the phone

Step 1Note: these instructions assume you’re on iOS 10.3 or higher. For earlier versions, or just more detail see Apple Support. Note: you will probably be asked to confirm the password for the old (her) Apple ID at some point in this process – be prepared.

  • Settings, AppleID, scroll down, tap Sign Out
  • You will be asked if you want to keep a copy of Contacts, Keychain passwords, Reminders, and Safari bookmarks. This is probably a good idea in the case of a spouse keeping the phone, otherwise not.

Step 2 First you (Mr. Jones) need an Apple ID. If you already have one, make sure you know the password. If not, create a new AppleID. Although this can be done right on the phone, it is much easier on a computer at AppleID.Apple.com. If you already have an AppleID, this is where you can prove that you know your password by signing in. Otherwise, Create Your AppleID by clicking the link. Once you have Apple ID:

  • Settings, Sign in to your iPhone
  • Enter Apple ID – next – password
  • Enter iPhone Passcode – this is the numbers you want to enter to unlock the phone when you first turn it on
  • For more detailed instructions on setting up your phone see Apple Support

Everyone should have their OWN phone with their own AppleID.