My wife and I both have our own laptops with our own iTunes accounts. Then we have a shared desktop. In the past, this was fine as all we had for iDevices was an iPod each. So we just managed our own music.

Now we each have an iPhone, and we have one iPad and we are looking at getting my daughter a iPod. So we still have our own iTunes accounts, but now we are getting digital copy movies which can only be associated with one iTunes account, and as you know a iPhone or iPad can only sync with one iTunes account. However, it would be nice to have our selection of movies and be able to say, hey I want this on my iPad for now, but have the option of later not having it on the iPad, but then on my iPhone. I want to stay legal, so I would only have the movie on one device at a time, but want to be able to move them around.

Now I know if I associate all my devices to one shared iTunes account that is easy enough to do. But what if we want to maintain separate accounts so I have all my iTunes music available on my laptop instead of our shared desktop?

Then if my only option is to have one shared iTunes accounts, can I merge our accounts so I can get all purchased music and apps from each account into one?


4 Answers 4


Here's our setup:


  • iMac x 1 (wife's primary computer & used by the kids)
  • MacBook Air x 1 (my primary computer)
  • MacBook Pro x 1 (wife's)

iOS Devices:

  • iPhone 4 x 2 (wife's and mine)
  • iPhone 3G x 1 (Younger Daughter's, used in airplane mode)
  • iPod Touch x 1 (Older Daughter's)
  • iPad 2 x 1 (mine but can be used by all when it's at home)
  • Apple TV 1st Generation x 1 (used in kid's playroom)
  • Apple TV 2nd Generation x 1 (used in main living room)

The Setup:

We use one Apple ID for all iTunes purchases (music, videos, books & apps) across all devices. Each user of an iOS device also has their own unique Apple ID used for iCloud.

The iMac is our main hub. All music and videos are stored on it. All iOS devices with the exception of any that are mine sync with the iMac. I maintain my own music on the MacBook Air that I manually manage (I will copy over items from the iMac that I want on to the Air and will copy over times that I have added to the Air back to the iMac - I believe that this can be automated with the use of Home Sharing when both computers are on the same network). All iOS devices that are mine sync with the my Air.

Music on the kids's and wife's iOS device are managed individually via syncing with the iMac. This goes for videos as well, however we usually only access videos when we are at home and therefor rely on the built-in Home Sharing ability of each iOS device to stream content from the iMac to the device. This is also how we use the 2nd gen Apple TV.

We have no iTunes setup on the MacBook Pro as my wife uses the Apple TV or her iPhone to listen to music and only uses the laptop for web browsing.

The 1st gen Apple TV has been jail broken and has had its hard drive upgraded. I manually copy over videos to it for the kids (only non-iTunes purchased videos).

More info on Home Sharing: http://www.apple.com/support/homesharing/getstarted/

On Merging Apple IDs:

This cannot be done: http://support.apple.com/kb/HE37 (5th question down).


as you know a iphone or ipad can only sync with one itunes account

Where did you get that idea from?

You are allowed to have multiple iTunes accounts associated with a single device. Just log out of one iTunes account, log into another account, and the second account's content will be available, while all the stuff associated with the previous account continues to work perfectly.

The App Store will even allow you to update software from an account that you're not currently logged into (this works better on iOS than inside iTunes).

I want to stay legal, so I would only have the movie on one device at a time, but want to be able to move them around.

Again, I think you're making false assumptions here. The license does allow you to have your purchases on multiple devices (I'm not sure about movie/tv rentals, they are more strict).

I'm not a lawyer, and I haven't read the entire terms and conditions, but my understanding is that your content is licensed to the household, not to an individual person. Everyone in your family (so long as they live in the same house) is legally permitted to use each other's iTunes purchases.

Last time I checked you are allowed to have five macs and unlimited iOS devices attached to each account, and you are allowed to have multiple accounts on a single device (only one of them can be logged into the store at a time however).

I contacted Apple's support team with a similar question to yours and they told me to just use two accounts on all my devices. About half the content on my iPhone/iPad are with my account, and the other half are with my girlfriend's account. It works fine, though we have to be careful not to buy stuff with the other's credit card.


You could use a Time Capsule to store all the media from the iTunes libraries. This is a wireless harddrive that can be used as a network.

You can do this by using copying the location of one itunes library over to the Time Capsule, then copy the contents of all the other libraries.

Make sure that all iTunes are pointing to the destination folder on the Time Capsule.

Then all your PC's will have access to all the files in all libraries.


Basically, if you want to stay legal as you suggested, no good way exists to do this. The best bet is to not buy music and movies that are linked only to a single iTunes account. I would purchase music DRM free, and rip movies that you own using Handbrake.

Maybe this is not what you want to do, but I think it is what most people actually want the ability to do. Buying content with copy protection really locks you down in most cases. I for one, feel as though once I have bought a DVD, I should be able to watch it on as many devices as I want without worrying about usernames, logins, or what the device prefers.

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