How can I figure out which Apple ID to use for purchasing and not end up with more confusion with @mac.com @me.com and @icloud.com email aliases that all belong to one iCloud account?

(I apoligize for dropping a bit of a mess here, but the back story is how I got here and hopefully has details to help solve my dilemma.)

I have never really understood the handling of usernames and passwords for iTunes, MobileMe and the app support web site and now with the introduction of iCloud, I sink to another deeper level of confusion. Please bear with me as I described my scenario:

I restored a backup of my older iPhone to a new iPhone 4s and it won't accept my password to get into the App Store to update apps.

I think when I first set up the new 4s I might have accidentally given it a version of my username (using [email protected] when it really was [email protected] or something like that.) I think it went and set up a new iCloud account for me. Guessing this I deleted the new iCloud account and was able to get the iPhone to properly log in on my previous iCloud/MobileMe account, [email protected]. Anyway, somewhere along the line things got confused.

Here's where things stand afaik:

  1. I can sync with iCloud on my computer and iPhone and they are all talking to the same account
  2. I see my email, my calendar, my address book and all seems correct
  3. I can get into the iTunes store on my computer (with the [email protected] and the password)


  1. on the iPhone it refuses to accept my the same password when entering the app store. (Not 100% sure what user name is used in that particular instance.)
  2. AND on the Mac, going into the App Store (NOT the iTunes store) I was able to log into that account, but it appeared to have started a new account because the apps that I have bought in the past don't appear. In other words it looks like I have a second APP STORE account.

So we end up with the question at the top of this post - How can I sort out confusion between Apple ID and passwords?

1 Answer 1


The iPhone maintains two separate Apple IDs: one for iCloud, and one for the iTunes Store. These may or may not be the same, and they are set in two separate places.

To view and set the Store account, open Settings and scroll down to Store. Beneath the settings for Automatic Downloads, it should show the Apple ID you're currently using on the phone for the Store, e.g.:

Apple ID: [email protected]

Tap that, and a dialog will pop up offering three options: View Apple ID, Sign Out, and iForgot (the last is for retrieving a forgotten password).

If the Apple ID displayed there is not what you expect, select Sign Out, and you will be able to sign into the Store with a different Apple ID. Note that this will not affect your iCloud settings, which are managed separately through Settings > iCloud.

Give this a try, and if you are still having troubles, feel free to update your question.

Further note: it sounds like you have inadvertently set up a new Apple ID instead of using an existing one. To identify which Apple IDs are associated with your account, check out My Apple ID. The Manage Your Account and "Not sure if you have an ID? Find out" links should help you get a handle on the situation.

Update: Regarding your comment about the App Stores, there's definitely confusion to be had here: The "App Store" on iOS is part of the iTunes Store - it's the same content that you see when you open iTunes, go to the Store, and browse to Apps, and it uses the same iTunes Account. The Mac App Store, accessed by clicking the App Store icon in your Dock (or under the Apple menu) in OS X is a separate content store containing only OS X apps. That said, it also authenticates using an iTunes Store account, typically the same one you'll use in iTunes.

As of today, the easiest way I've found to think about this - and the way I've configured my own accounts - is:

An Apple ID for buying things, which you'll use to authenticate in:

  • The iTunes Store
  • The App Store on iOS
  • The Mac App Store on OS X

And one for syncing things, which you'll use to authenticate in:

  • The iCloud settings on iOS
  • The iCloud preference pane on OS X
  • The iCloud website

The thing to note about the above is that you can use the same Apple ID for both sets of tasks, but, depending on what you want to accomplish, knowing where to enter each ID is important.

  • Thanks, sounds promising and it sounds like you are on to something... My settings on iPhone as well as iTunes on Mac itself both say [email protected]. Also by the way do we know for a fact that App Store uses the same authentication as iTunes Store? After all they are different icons in both Mac OS X and iPhone.
    – pitosalas
    Nov 8, 2011 at 13:28
  • Someone should forward a link to this answer to Eddy Cue under the subject line "What needs to be fixed with iCloud"...
    – daGUY
    Dec 12, 2012 at 17:25

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