Q: Hi, we are a family of four: mum, dad, and two children aged 15 and 17. My youngest daughter is off to Denmark for 12 months and my eldest daughter is off to University. We have now reached our limit of five devices for an iTunes account—my guess is we need about 10. We are all running off the same iTunes account. How can I set my daughters up so they can they can still access all purchases from the family account? They both have a laptop, not Apple, and an iPhone each. My wife and I each have an iPhone and one desktop computer and we will possibly get an iPad shortly.
A: Actually, the limit of five devices per iTunes Store account only applies to authorizations for computers using iTunes. Apple actually allows you to have up to ten devices authorized in total for features such as iTunes Match and re-downloading previous purchases from iTunes in the Cloud, up to five of which can be computers running iTunes. So in other words, you could have anywhere from 10 iOS devices and no computers up to five computers and five iOS devices or any combination in between. You can view the number of devices that have been authorized for these features by going into your iTunes Store account information from within iTunes and choosing the Manage Devices option.
However, this listing here only applies to those devices authorized to automatically download or re-download purchased content using iTunes in the Cloud or use iTunes Match. There’s actually no limit on the number of iOS devices that purchased content can be synced to, as long as that content comes from iTunes running on one of your five authorized computers. Apple does enforce a limit of content from five different accounts on a single device—presumably to prevent people from going around and collecting content from different libraries—however there is no restriction on the number of devices that you can sync content from a single account to.
So in this case you likely don’t have a problem, as it sounds like you’re not using any more than three or four actual computers—each of your daughters’ laptops and the desktop computer(s) for you and your wife. With each of you also using an iPhone, that brings up your total devices count to eight—well within the ten-device limit even for the iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match features. However, if you’re only syncing content onto your devices from iTunes, these limits don’t even apply to your iPhones or other iOS devices.