Apple IDs, iTunes accounts and iCloud e-mail addresses

Q: My iTunes account has a Yahoo e-mail address as the primary e-mail and ID, however in 2011 I opened a free iCloud e-mail account when purchasing an iPad. The problem is, I now want to delete my useless Yahoo e-mail account and move 100% to my e-mail but iTunes won’t let me have my address as my primary e-mail address on the account? iTunes allows me to setup my a as a “secondary” e-mail and in fact I can even log into to my iTunes account using my address but I don’t get any e-mail receipts or account communication to this address, I only get these to my Yahoo account. This makes absolutely no sense to me, does Apple actually want people to have third party e-mail addresses on their account? Do I have an account problem or do others have the same issue? Is there a workaround to this problem?

– Kevin

A: Sadly, the problem you’re having here is not an uncommon one at all, and you’re definitely not alone.

Ultimately, your iTunes Store account uses an “Apple ID” which is intended to be a unified, single login for all of Apple’s online services; your Apple ID is also used for services like iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, Game Center, and a number of others. When you signed up for an iCloud account, you created a second Apple ID—your user name—separate and distinct from your original iTunes Store account. Since that new account is its own Apple ID, you can’t rename your original account to your address as an account already exists with that name.

Unfortunately, Apple does not provide any way to merge two separate Apple IDs, probably due to the complexities of trying to merge all of the different information that could be stored under each ID. In fact, if you log into the iTunes Store with your iCloud e-mail address, you’ll probably discover that you’re using a completely new iTunes Store account—your purchase history and credit card information will not be the same as it is under your original Apple ID. The ability to use your address as a secondary e-mail address for your Apple ID is actually a unique concession to addresses—Apple doesn’t otherwise allow a single e-mail address to be associated with more than one Apple ID.

Apple IDs, iTunes accounts and iCloud e-mail addresses

Of course, you could simply start using your new Apple ID with the iTunes Store, but you would lose the convenience of accessing your purchased content from iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match—even switching back and forth between the two accounts would not be feasible for this as Apple enforces a 90-day time limit on doing so.


Apple IDs, iTunes accounts and iCloud e-mail addresses

Note that it is possible to use your original Apple ID as an iCloud account, and you can even sign up for a e-mail address with your original Apple ID from your iOS device. This is a slightly better solution as it effectively allows you to have a single Apple ID that actually represents both addresses and you will be able to log in to some services using either your original Apple ID or your e-mail address. Unfortunately, however, this still doesn’t allow you to swap your original Apple ID for your account; the latter simply becomes an alternate e-mail address.


Apple IDs, iTunes accounts and iCloud e-mail addresses

Note that if you’ve already created a separate Apple ID for your iCloud account, you don’t really have the option of switching that e-mail address over to your primary Apple ID—even if you are able to delete the iCloud account, Apple tends to hold addresses in reserve for an unspecified period of time before they can be reused.

So unfortunately, all of this basically means that you’re stuck with your account being separate from your primary iTunes Store account. You can, of course, change the Apple ID for your iTunes Store account to a different e-mail address if you wanted to move away from Yahoo to another third-party e-mail provider; the restriction is on switching to a address as these are already assigned as their own Apple IDs.

Note that there have been rumours that Apple may be working on a way to merge Apple IDs, but as with almost all projects within Apple, there has been no official word on this, and it’s likely there won’t be until such time as Apple is ready to make the service publicly available.



Latest News