Last time we covered steps for sharing calendars with your family, friends, co-workers, and others using iCloud.
But what if you were looking for something simpler and a little more focused? Something that was specific only to your family? Family Sharing, a part of Apple’s iCloud services, has you covered.
What is Family Sharing?
Apple introduced Family Sharing as a feature of iOS 8 in September 2014. In brief, it’s a way for up to six people in a family, each with their own Apple ID, to share content from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store. An adult is identified as the organizer, and the credit or debit card associated with his/her Apple ID is used to pay for all purchases by all members of the family.
But Family Sharing has other features as well, including a shared family calendar.
Setting Up Family Sharing on a Mac
You can set up Family Sharing on almost any device, including an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 8 or later, a Mac with OS X Yosemite or later and iTunes 12, or a PC with iCloud for Windows.
We’re going to assume you’ve already set up your iCloud account including a payment method.
On an iOS device, tap Settings, tap iCloud, and tap Set Up Family Sharing, then follow the directions on the screen.
The process is essentially the same as on the Mac, which we’ll detail now:
- From the Apple Menu, choose System Preferences.
- Click iCloud.
- Click Set Up Family.
- Click Continue.
- Identify yourself as the organizer of the family by clicking Continue.
- You have a chance to use a different Apple ID for the organizer by clicking Use a Different Account…. Assuming you’re happy with the Apple ID you’ve already identified, click Continue to confirm your Apple ID.
- Click Continue to confirm the credit or debit card associated with your Apple ID. This card will be used for all purchases made by all family members.
- Optionally, you can decide to share your location with your family, then click Continue.
- Once you’re set up as the Organizer, you can invite up to five people to join your family. Click Add Family Member….
- If the family member you want to add already has an Apple ID, enter the email address associated with it. You’ll be asked for the security code of the credit/debit card you’ll be using. Click Continue and you’ll have the choice of sending the family member an email invitation or entering the password yourself (if you know it). iCloud will keep track of invitations that are accepted. If you’re adding a child under the age of 18, you’ll be offered the opportunity to turn on Ask to Buy. Anytime he or she tries to buy something, you’ll get a notification and have the chance to approve or deny the purchase.
- If the family member you want to add is a child who doesn’t have an Apple ID, make that selection and click Continue. You’ll step through a series of screens that are typical for setting up any new Apple ID (agreeing to terms and conditions, adding security questions and answers, etc.). If your child is under 18, you’ll be offered the opportunity to turn on Ask to Buy.
- When you’re done adding people to the family, you can review the settings for each family member and change them if need be.
The Family calendar
With Family Sharing set up and ready to go, here are the steps to set up the Family calendar:
There are no steps! It’s automatic, and here’s what it looks like in Calendar on the Mac:
The Family Calendar is found in the usual place on iOS devices: tap Calendar, then tap the Calendars button, and it will appear in the calendars list.
By default, any member of the family can add events to the Family calendar and every member of the family will see it and be notified of changes. Just as with other iCloud shared calendars, you can remove the ability of family members to edit the calendar. So if you don’t want your 12-year-old scheduling you for trips to the SPCA to visit the dogs that are up for adoption, you might want to think about giving her read-only access, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
So Many Ways, I mean—Things, to Share
If you have kids going to soccer practices, dance exhibitions, tutoring, or family outings, sharing calendars and creating and using a family calendar can help reduce the confusion. Think about how shared calendars can help you. I doubt you’ll have to think very long before taking the plunge.
We’ve covered the two ways to share calendars using iCloud, including an easy way to share a calendar among family members. But now that we’ve opened this particular can of family-shared worms, isn’t there more a family can share?
Yes, and we’ll cover more of that in my next post.