Sharing an iMessage account between family members


Q: I have an iPhone and an iPad mini. My youngest daughter uses the iPad mini when she’s away to be able to text me through iMessage. Which means she also receives iMessages between myself and others. Is there a way, without turning off iMessage, to keep the iMessages from certain people from going to my iPad?

Sharing an iMessage account between family members

– Christy

A: While there is no way to block iMessages from specific senders right now, it is possible to ensure that only specific iMessages go to certain devices by configuring different addresses on each device.

iMessage is automatically configured on an iPhone to send and receive messages using your iPhone’s phone number. You can optionally log in using an Apple ID and password to allow iMessages to be sent and received from one or more e-mail addresses in addition to your phone number. Since an iPad or iPod touch do not have a phone number assigned to them you are required to sign in with an Apple ID to use iMessage on these devices.

You can use the same Apple ID on multiple iOS devices in order to share iMessages between devices automatically, which sounds like exactly what you are doing in this case. With iOS 6, signing into your iPhone with an Apple ID will also automatically share your phone number via Apple’s servers with other iOS devices that are using iMessage.

In addition, all of the e-mail addresses configured for your Apple ID are shared across all of your iOS devices that are using the same Apple ID for iMessage. iMessages sent to or received from any of these addresses will therefore automatically be synced between all of your devices. This is normally desirable behaviour if you are the primary user of all of the devices in question.


Sharing an iMessage account between family members

The standard solution to this problem is to give your daughter her own Apple ID for iMessage. This would use an e-mail address unique to her own account and you would use this e-mail address to send iMessages to her, and her messages to you would come from this e-mail address, rather than a phone number. The downside to this approach, however, is that none of her iMessages would be synced to your iPhone, which will be a problem if your daughter is younger and you want to monitor her messages.

If this is a concern, the more effective approach would be to continue sharing the same Apple ID while assigning a unique e-mail address to your daughter. To do this, simply go into Settings, Messages on her device and add a new e-mail address; note that you will need to verify the new address by clicking a link in an e-mail that will be sent to that address.

Once you’ve done this, simply DE-select all of the additional e-mail addresses, and your phone number, from the Messages settings on her iPad, such that only the new e-mail address remains selected. At this point, her iPad will only receive iMessages sent to that one e-mail address, and anything she sends out will come from that e-mail address.

On your iPhone you can leave all of the e-mail addresses selected, including the unique one for your daughter, in order to be able to monitor messages sent to and from that address. You’ll also want to ensure that your preferred iMessage address is selected in the “Start new conversations from” section. This determines which address is used when starting a new iMessage conversation; keep in mind however that existing conversations will continue to use whichever address the conversation was started with.

For more information, be sure to check out our Guide to FaceTime + iMessage: Setup, Use, and Troubleshooting.


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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.