I buy many apps and I'd like to let my little cousin use my account to download games I've purchased.

Obviously Apple won't encourage accounts holders to share their accounts with relatives but what's the risk of doing so?

I use my account on my iPhone and my iPad and he's got an iPad 2.


You asked "Am i allowed to let someone else use my iTunes account?"

Apple says you shouldn't:

"You shouldn't share your Apple ID account information with other people. Each person should have their own Apple ID."

Note that they don't say you can't… and they do very little to stop you. Apple's DRM is fairly "light" and meant to keep honest people honest. Purchases aren't tied to a single device (I think you can install on up to 10) and can be re-downloaded at any time.

If developers find more and more people sharing their AppleIDs, they may push for more restrictive DRM in the future. Each actual lost sale takes money out of a developer's pocket: a developer who may have kids of his/her own to support.

If you're asking about the risk of Apple finding out, that seems fairly unlikely. What would they do if they found out? No one knows for sure, but they could terminate your account meaning that you'd have to re-purchase all the apps and music that you had purchased.

Others might say that you aren't doing anything except sharing and while sharing with 1,000 people might be wrong, sharing with 1 is probably statistically insignificant. They would say that your cousin doesn't necessarily reflect a lost sale for each of those apps, because they might not have purchased the same apps.

I have friends who are iOS developers. I do my best to support the apps that I use frequently. My wife and mom share my Apple ID for purchases. I use 80% of the apps that I buy (20% are apps that I buy and then never use, because Apple doesn't have demos). They probably use less than 1% (I'm not sure my mother uses anything except WordsWithFriends, email, and Safari). When I decided to set my Mom up with a Simplenote premium account, I paid for a separate one rather than let her use mine. My wife and I have separate MotionX subscriptions. And when my mom's best friend bought an iPad, I set her up with her own account. In my mind, this frees me up to buy more apps to try more apps. Some will see that as nothing more than an attempt to justify my own behavior.

So those are the "risks," such as they are. There are few concrete ones.

At the end of the day, the answer is "you're not supposed to, but you can" and it's up to you to decide what to do with that.

p.s. - the most likely "risk" isn't what Apple would do if they found out, it's the fact that you will almost certainly have to share your Apple ID password with your cousin. That password is needed for installing free apps and updates, but it can also be used for app purchases and in-app purchases which can run into the thousands.

That same password can be used for purchasing TV shows, movies, etc.

You'd be responsible for those charges. Unless you see your cousin often enough to do these updates yourself, that's the biggest (practical) risk you face.

  • Thank you very much for the time you took to reply. You answered my question and i agree with what you said concerning developers.
    – amstram
    Dec 11 '11 at 22:19
  • Just a note on developers looking for ways to increase revenue by bypassing the sharing of Apple IDs: they can't do a thing about it. First, there is no way to circumvent the installation of an app to any device registered to the Apple ID that was used to purchase it. Second, even if that were possible (on the backend), there would be no way for Apple to know which devices belong to one person and which are used by multiple users. So there would be no way for Apple to even get data on how many people are "placating" the system (vs. honest people with just more than one device).
    – user10355
    Dec 12 '11 at 3:26

Yes you can. And Apple actually doesn't discourage this behavior. While it's true they do warn users not to share their Apple ID, but that can be taken more as a security concern than one of theft. In the past, Apple has never been one to mince words about piracy (being vocal against music and movie theft).

Apple allows you to register a small number (5) of devices to a single Apple ID. So you can register your little cousins device, your girlfriend's device, or your dad's device without a care.

This helps consolidate purchases and in a lot of cases, helps device management in large households.

The drawbacks aren't many. You can withhold your password from those that you do not wish to make additional purchases using your ID. But this will restrict them from even installing free apps. And if they happen to log out, they will be unable to log in again. The decision how to handle your account's access is left to your discretion. Just note that you will be responsible for any purchases made on any device registered under your account. Typically Apple is quite good with refunds, but I'm not sure how they would handle one in this case. (It's likely that they will issue you a "one-time" refund and warn you that you will be responsible for any additional purchases made in the future.)

Aside from potentially having someone rack up your account, it's totally cool with Apple and a great way to get mileage on your app purchases.

  • I believe it is five devices.. That is the case for music and movie downloads.
    – ICL1901
    Dec 12 '11 at 0:22
  • @DavidDelMonte Thanks David. I wasn't sure, so I stayed vague. I'll edit my answer.
    – user10355
    Dec 12 '11 at 0:26
  • "Your Apple ID can have up to 10 devices and computers (combined) associated with it." - source: support.apple.com/kb/HT4627
    – TJ Luoma
    Dec 13 '11 at 6:35
  • "You can use or sync your purchases from the iTunes Store on up to five different computers (these can be any mix of Macintosh or Windows-compatible computers)." —source: support.apple.com/kb/HT1420 That page references "apps, audiobooks, books, music, movies, or other content you've purchased from the iTunes Store." This is probably the source of the confusion. I often hear both 5 and 10 given as the answer. I think it's best said as "up to 5 computers and 10 devices including iOS."
    – TJ Luoma
    Dec 13 '11 at 6:43

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