Splitting purchased content between two iPads


My wife and son have been sharing a single iPad and iTunes account. I recently bought my wife a new iPad and my son has the old one now. I would like to set him up with his own iTunes account and transfer all of the purchased kids apps, music and videos to his account while leaving all of her adult shows and music intact. Is that possible? I have paid for all of these shows so why is this so tough to accomplish?

Splitting purchased content between two iPads

– Michael

A: Although you can’t transfer the actual purchase history to a new iTunes Store account, you can still load the items purchased with the old account onto your son’s iPad—or simply leave them there, as the case may be.

The key is that a single iPad or other iOS device can use content from up to five different iTunes Store accounts. To do this, the content needs to either be downloaded directly from that account using the iTunes Store or App Store apps on the device, or transferred from an iTunes library that has been authorized for that content.

If you haven’t yet erased the old iPad for your son’s use, you may find it far simpler to just clean up what you don’t want, rather than wiping it and reloading it. You can easily delete those apps and any other content that your son doesn’t need, and then go to the iTunes & App Store section in the iPad Settings app to sign out of your wife’s iTunes Store account and then into your son’s new account.

From then on, any new content will be downloaded from that account; all existing apps, however, will continue to work just fine, even though the device is no longer signed in to the other account. Should you need to re-download an item purchased with the older account, you will either need to go back to the Settings and switch accounts first, or transfer the item on directly from the iTunes library on your computer.

In this latter case, you don’t even need to worry about which account the iPad is signed into the iTunes Store with; as long as your Mac or PC is authorized for the iTunes Store account used to purchase the items—which should normally be the case by default if the items were originally downloaded to that computer—the necessary authorizations will be transferred to the iPad during the sync process.


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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.