I have been asked to help out with a friends iTunes/iOS/Phot syncing setup, they have 4 iOS devices (all iOS 5 compatible except one 3G iPhone) and a range of iTunes libraries that they have previously synced to.

What they want to acheive is to share an Apple ID for purchases from the App Store, and also all sync to a single iTunes library on a shared Windows PC for music syncing etc. This bit is simple enough.

Where it get's complicated is that want to be able to maintain their photos seperately on their own PCs (no Macs anywhere...sigh). I know that previously in Windows you could select a folder to sync pics to (as a crappy iPhoto replacement) and there was also some vague album support from a couple of Windows Apps (Photoship Elements?), but they dont have any of the apps. I also know about the Scanner & Camera Wizard/Windows Live Photo wizard also, which may still be the only option for the 3G iPhone which will not support iOS5, and thus iCloud accounts (I think this is true, corrections welcomed).

What I want to propose to them, if possible, is to use the single Apple ID and sync to a single iTunes library for music/apps/backups etc for all devices, but each have their own iCloud account, and use Photo Stream to keep their photos seperate and not have them all sync to the same shared PC that the iTunes software runs on.

I have no idea how Photostream works on a Windows machine, it is possible to log into iCloud through a control panel widget like you did with Mobile Me on Windows, and sign into iCloud and turn on Photostream to sync photos (either to a folder, or an app) on a per iCloud account basis, allowing them to all sync photos to their individual machines while keeping the iTunes sync relationship to a shared device?

(Note, the Apple ID/Music bit is included for reference and completeness, I am only querying the capabilities of iCloud/Photostream, and would appreciate replies on that, not any suggestions to do anything different with the Apps/Music bit - just setting expactations, thanks)

1 Answer 1



  • Use one AppleID for purchasing.
  • Use one or many computers to download this content. Remember that iTunes can sync apps to computer A and music to computer B and photos to computer C. Each person can decide to join the communal computer for App syncing / backup / downloading without it affecting their Photo browsing.
  • If they each get an iCloud account and use it for the rest - they can use the iCloud software on their PC to get the pictures or sync manually like any other photo device connected via USB.

I haven't tested it, but WiFI sync might also be available on the PC side of iTunes. Good Luck! Let us know how you fare...

  • I was under the impression that your 2nd poiont wasn't allowed, and that once a relationship between a device and an iTunes libray was made, it was not possible to interact in any way with a different iTunes library without having to wipe the contents that were synced from the 1st one? Has this changed?
    – stuffe
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 9:52
  • That problems arises when two computers (A & X) try to sync the same set of data. iTunes will want to remove A's apps before it lets X take over. Only one computer can automatically sync Apps to an iOS device. The system separates some of the data Info / Apps / Music / Photos. So as long as each computer doesn't step on the other's data, you can have one device and at least 4 computers happily and automatically syncing data in each independent "silo" of information.
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 13:59

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