Short story:

Ted owns a company. His company put all employees and owner and owner’s family on a single iCloud account. This brought on several problems including iMessages delivered to wrong devices, among many other issues, but that’s the way it stayed for years. Ted sold company recently and company has allowed him to keep iCloud account. Since then Ted used AppleID website to change the common iCloud email address to a personal account. All other devices are still pointed at old iCloud account.

Main Goals: 1. Retain purchases made under common iCloud address. 2. Fix iMessages wrong-delivery issues.

I am developing a process to do this, but I don’t have a great deal of confidence in it.

Here’s a summary of my process.

On a phone still tethered to old iCloud address:

  1. Go into iCloud settings and sign out.
  2. Go into App Store and iTunes and sign out.
  3. Go into Messages and Sign Out.
  4. Create new iCloud address under iCloud settings and confirm via email.
  5. Sign in in AppStore, iTunes, and iMessage.
  6. Confirm all bad addresses and phone numbers are not referenced in iMessages.
  7. Open contacts and make sure there are no references to old iCloud email address.
  8. On Ted’s phone, set up Family Sharing and connect to address created in step 4.

What else could I be doing to help this along? Or is there an easier way?

  • Are you looking at 10 iOS devices or two or other? Are any Mac devices involved?
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


This is a common engagement that I see and there is really no way to untangle purchases going forward.

The main thing to focus on in my experience is if you can edit the AppleID or not. If the account in question is @icloud.com, @me.com or @mac.com - it's set in stone and you can't really repurpose it.

If the AppleID is not using an Apple extension, then you have much more flexibility to rename the actual AppleID and update all the security, recovery and primary emails and convert a "personal" account to a "role/work" account and the other way.

When looking at the value of purchases, also consider the billable rate and the time spend not doing other work. Often it's simpler to write off the loss of past purchases and just make a clean break. Putting humpty dumpty back together again isn't viable in most cases.


  1. retaining purchases - no go since they stay with the account and you can't use one Apple ID for that many devices without Apple eventually shutting it down.
  2. fixing iMessage - this is doable. It is a lot of work, but you can plan that work on a piece of paper and then decide if it's really worth it to try and reuse one Apple ID or if you will just make a new account and use that going forward with a complete wipe of all the "wrongly configured" devices.

Again, get an estimate of how much your time is worth and how much time the people using the devices is work and solve your particular situation for the lowest $$ invested.

  • Thanks a bunch and I hear you re: work/money tradoffs. I'd like to know your process for fixing iMessage, or how it differs from my own. Also: The main issue with wiping the phones that will move to new iCloud account is that all their message history (call history, etc.) is lost.
    – tcv
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 0:42

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