Consolidating apps to a single iTunes Store account

Q: My daughter has an iPod touch and an iPad, when she received her iPod she did not have an e-mail address, so I used my e-mail to set up an iTunes account that she could use to purchase apps and games. When she received her iPad I created a new e-mail account and an iTunes account specifically for her. My problem now is that she has apps on her iPod Touch and iPad that were purchased with two different Apple IDs and she has to log-in and log-out to each one in order to update her apps as they were purchased with different IDs. I would like to transfer everything to her new Apple ID as I would like to use mine for my new iPod classic I received for Christmas. Is this possible?

– Brian

A: Unfortunately, there is no direct way to do this as Apple still does not allow Apple IDs or iTunes Store purchase histories to be merged. The only real solution is to re-purchase or re-download your apps under the other ID.

This is actually not a big problem if all of the apps your daughter is using were free downloads, since there’s no cost to re-download them again under the other account and the new download will seamlessly replace what’s already on your device with no loss of data or settings. However, keep in mind that even for “free” apps you should be cautious of any in-app purchases or subscriptions as these will generally not transfer to the new account either; consumable items like in-game “coins” will in some cases, but permanent upgrades or content downloads generally will not.

Of course this may not be practical if you have spent money purchasing apps on either account since you would have to spend money to buy those apps again on the other account. You can try contacting the iTunes Store customer support and pleading your case to them, however as a policy Apple does not normally transfer purchases between accounts even on a case-by-case basis, so you’re unlikely to get any help in that regard.

It’s worth keeping in mind that although you may have valid personal and family reasons for keeping your accounts separate, there are no technical reasons that your daughter needs to use her own iTunes Store account. The two of you can share the same account across multiple devices and even multiple iTunes libraries; a single iTunes account can be used on up to ten devices, five of which can be computers running iTunes. This might make it more practical to consolidate her apps onto a single account if there are fewer apps that were purchased on the new account; simply re-download those apps under the original account and then basically stop using the new one for iTunes Store downloads.

Note as well that there are actually advantages to sharing a single iTunes Store account between family members; you can share purchased content between devices, and if you choose to subscribe to iTunes Match, all of your devices can share the same iTunes library from the cloud. Using separate iTunes Store accounts makes this considerably more difficult.

The iTunes Store account used on a given device also does not have to be the same as the Apple ID that you use for other Apple services such as iCloud, FaceTime, iMessage and Game Center. This means that your daughter could continue to share your “family” iTunes Store account for purchasing and downloading apps and media content while using her own personal Apple ID for these other services.

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