Can’t change iTunes Apple ID to iCloud e-mail address
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: The email account that is linked to my iTunes account is about to be shut off when we change our ISP. Is there any way I can re-link our iTunes account to an existing iCloud email address? It would seem simple as Apple says that you can just change your email address to a new one by editing your account details, but it seems to refuse to let me enter my iCloud address.
I don’t want to have to sign up to a new email service just to get a new address for my iTunes account—especially when I have a perfectly good iCloud account already. I’m not interested in setting up a free Gmail account or anything like that. It seems perfectly reasonable to want to use an Apple email account with an Apple service, but I can’t work out how to do it and Apple Support don’t seem to understand what I am asking.
They say that my iCloud email is an Apple ID, so why can’t I use that for iTunes?
A: You are absolutely correct that this seems perfectly reasonable and logical, but unfortunately despite many similar complaints over the years, this remains a limitation due to the way that Apple has chosen to set up Apple IDs. The statement that your iCloud e-mail is an Apple ID is correct, but the problem is that it is a different Apple ID from the one you’ve been using for your iTunes account. Essentially you have two different and completely functional Apple IDs—your original one that you have been using for iTunes and the new one you created for your iCloud account.
An Apple ID is simply the user name and password used for a wide variety of Apple services, including the iTunes Store, iCloud, FaceTime, iMessage, Game Center, online Apple Store purchases, product registration, and even Apple Developer accounts. You can put all of this information under a single Apple ID, or have separate Apple IDs for the different services.
The crux of the problem is that Apple still has not provided any way to merge accounts. You can’t change your old iTunes Store account to your iCloud e-mail address because another account with that name already exists, and you can’t merge both of those accounts because Apple has no way to make this happen.
Further, Apple now insists that Apple IDs take the form of e-mail addresses, meaning that whatever you change your Apple ID to must be an e-mail address, rather than a simple username.
Sadly, this basically leaves you with only two options, neither of which are ideal.
The obvious option is to set up a new e-mail address somewhere else. You could use whatever e-mail address your new ISP provides you with, or setup a free webmail account somewhere. You’ve stated that you don’t want to do this, but the unfortunate part is that if you want to keep your old Apple ID there is no other choice. The bit of good news is that you don’t actually have to use this address for anything other than the name you sign into iTunes with.
E-mails will be sent to this address by Apple, but most webmail services such as Gmail will allow you to easily setup your account to forward everything to another account, so you shouldn’t even have to worry about checking it. So basically, you can create the account, set up forwarding, and then forget about using it as anything other than a username to log in with.
Alternatively, you could choose to simply transition to using your iCloud account as your iTunes Store account. It is already setup to do this, and all you would need to do is add any necessary payment information the first time you use it with iTunes. The problem with this approach is that your purchase history is still tied to your original iTunes Store account, and can’t be migrated to a new account any more than Apple can merge accounts in the first place.
For accessing content already in your iTunes library this is not a problem, since you can authorize your computer, iPods, and iOS devices for more than one iTunes Store account, and content from both will work seamlessly. This becomes a bit more complicated if you’re dealing with a lot of apps, since you’ll need to sign in to the old account in order to receive app updates. Free apps, however, could be easily re-downloaded under the new account to mitigate some of this.
This will likely also be an unworkable solution if you’re using iTunes in the Cloud features to download previous purchases or subscribe to iTunes Match. Due to Apple’s 90-day restriction on switching accounts, you wouldn’t be able to go back and forth in order to re-download previous purchases, and if you’ve already subscribed to iTunes Match, you’d be stuck using the original account at least until your subscription is up and you can re-subscribe using the new one.
Ultimately, this second approach still doesn’t really solve your need to change your Apple ID to a different e-mail address, but it would eventually minimize your use of that Apple ID, depending on how much content you’ve purchased with it in the past. If we’re talking about a handful of purchased items and you’re not really relying on iTunes in the Cloud features, leaving the old account largely behind may not be a bad approach.
Keep in mind also that you only need to use a me.com or icloud.com Apple ID for an iCloud account if you also want to use it for e-mail. Should you transition to another e-mail service at some point, you could easily turn your primary iTunes Store account into an iCloud account with that other e-mail address. All of your iCloud features except for e-mail and notes are available with any Apple ID, and you can set this up simply by signing into iCloud with the Apple ID that you use for your iTunes account. This provides a possible third option depending on how invested you are in your iCloud e-mail address.
Unfortunately, there’s no reason to expect that Apple is going to fix this problem any time soon. Apple has explicitly stated in several support documents that Apple IDs cannot be merged (see Frequently asked questions about Apple ID), and there have been numerous questions and complaints raised about this since even before iCloud came along, with no real evidence that Apple is working to solve this problem.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Report: AirPods delay due to problems with wireless audio synchronization
- Apple offering hands-on demos of Super Mario Run in stores
- Report: Apple pursuing studio agreements for early movie rentals
- Apple releases seventh beta of iOS 10.2 to developers
- Apple makes its picks for best iPhone, iPad and Apple TV apps of 2016
- Apple acknowledges Apple Music now includes ‘all the benefits of iTunes Match’
- Apple Music tops 20 million subscribers
- Apple blames ‘external factors’ for iPhone fires in China
- Rumor: 2017 iPhones won’t include glass chassis or wireless charging; will add red color
- Top Apple supplier Foxconn planning U.S. investment
- Elgato Eve Light Switch
- iHome iPLWBT5 Docking Clock Radio for iPhone and Apple Watch
- Brydge 12.9 iPad Pro Keyboard
- Sen.se GuardPeanut
- iHome iZBT10 Zenergy Bedside Sleep Therapy Speaker
- Twelve South HiRise Duet for Apple Watch and iPhone
- IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor
- JBL Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Headphones
- Edifier e235 Luna E Speaker System
- Clamcase ClamCase+ for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10