Merging iCloud/Apple ID Accounts
Posted by Geoff Perlman
If you have been around the Mac community long enough, you may have ended up with two Apple IDs. I have one for iTunes and another one that came from MobileMe. This resulted in effectively having two iCloud accounts. This can be inconvenient and probably will become more so in the future. Apple doesn't provide a means to merge Apple IDs. They know they need to provide this, but they do not yet do so. I, however, have found a way.
Since the introduction of iCloud, I have wanted to have a single Apple ID. When Apple recently added the two-step authentication for Apple IDs to make them more secure, I decided to sign in and update my Apple ID account. Part of the process is to verify a device you own which will be used, along with your password, to authenticate that you are who you say you are should you want to make changes (such as your password) to your Apple ID in the future. The webpage said it would list my devices, but none were listed. It didn't take long to figure out why. The Apple ID I was updating was for iTunes, while the Apple ID Apple was using to find my devices was the one associated with my iCloud (MobileMe/mac.com) account.
I finally decided that I really had to find a way to merge the data from my iCloud Apple ID with my iTunes Apple ID so that I would have a single Apple ID. It took some research and experimentation, but I figured it out.
If you have two Apple IDs and you want to merge the data into one, here are the steps. For the purposes of this post, I'll refer to the two accounts as OldAppleID (the one you are currently using for iCloud) and NewAppleID (the one you want to use for iCloud).
- If you have any documents you have stored in iCloud (Pages, Numbers, Keynote, etc.), Save copies of these to your Mac desktop before proceeding because the copies in iCloud will be lost.
- Next, open iPhoto and make sure your Photostream imports any photos from each of your devices as those will also be lost in this process.
- On all the devices you sync to iCloud, open each application on each device to allow it to sync. This is just to make sure your data is completely synced up. You will see a progress wheel spin in the status bar (next to your carrier name on an iPhone or next to the wifi indicator on the iPad or iPod Touch) while the sync is going on. Wait for this to end before continuing to the next app.
- Choose one of your iOS devices to use as a source for the iCloud data.
- On that device, go to Settings -> Mail Contacts, Calendars and tap on your OldAppleID iCloud account.
- Scroll to the bottom and click the Delete Account button.
- First, you'll get a warning that all of your photos in Photostream and documents in iCloud on the device will be deleted. Tap the Delete button to continue.
- Next, you'll be given the option to delete the data associated with the iCloud account from this device or keep it on the device. This is the most critical step in this process. Make sure you tap the Keep on Device button.
- When your device is done deleting, go back to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendar and under Accounts, tap on Add Account.
- Select iCloud from the list and add your NewAppleID account. It will take some time for the new account to appear.
- Once the new account appears, launch each of the apps on that device that sync to iCloud (Contacts, Notes, Calendar, Reminders, etc.). Again you will see a progress wheel appear in the status bar at the top of your device. Depending on how much data you have, this could take from a few seconds to a few minutes. Wait for this to finish before proceeding to the next app.
- At this point, the iCloud account associated with your NewAppleID now has all your data synced. Next, you will need to update your other iOS devices (if you have any) and your Mac.
- For each of your other iOS devices, go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendar and delete your iCloud account. This time, when it asks you if you want to delete the data on the device, tap Delete Data on Device.
- Next on Mail, Contacts, Calendar tap Add Account and add the iCloud account associated with your NewAppleID.
- When it's finished setting up, open each application that syncs with iTunes and verify that your data is there. It should be, or it will be momentarily, so wait for it to appear. Update the rest of the iOS devices you wish to have associated with your NewAppleID iCloud account.
- Last but not least, update your Mac. This is the easiest step. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
- In the System Preferences window, click on iCloud.
- Click the Sign Out button.
- It will take a moment to sign out. If it says it can't sign out, make sure all the options for syncing Mail, Contacts, etc., are unchecked and then click Sign Out again.
- The Sign Out button will now be labeled Sign In so click it and sign in with your NewAppleID. This will sync your data to your Mac.
- Verify that your Notes, Calendar, Contacts, Photostream and Reminders are all intact on your Mac.
- If you had documents in iCloud, open each of these on your Mac, click on the document name in the titlebar of the window and choose Move to iCloud from the drop down menu. In the confirmation dialog, click Move.
You now have a single iCloud account and can ignore your old one. This also means that you effectively have a single Apple ID and can ignore the old one.
The fact that iOS can do this is really a hidden gem of a feature. Some times software features get used in unexpected ways. Being able to use iOS to merge iCloud accounts is a great example of that.
If you have an idea for a desktop or web application or have ever been interested in learning programming, Xojo is a great way to start. You can learn with Xojo for free (download it here) and we provide a free Introduction to Programming book as well. So get started! Perhaps one day, one of your users will discover a new way to use your software you never dreamed of.