Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

How iOS17 will finally let me digitally split from my wife? New setup for iFamily in 2023!


This week is all about the new iOS17 - operating system for our iPhones and iPads! Finally it’s coming to our devices and at last I’ll be able to split my main iCloud ID from my wife. An e-divorce of sorts. Nope, I’m not really breaking up with my wife, I love her too much… but we’ll finally be able to have separate iCloud accounts because since 2012 we’ve been using the same main Apple ID/iCloud account on both of our iPhones. Yes, that wasn’t ideal but it worked for us very well. However, as you can imagine it was also frustrating at times, so here’s what iOS17 offers that finally will help us out:

How iOS17 will finally let me digitally split from my wife? New setup for iFamily in 2023!

One Apple ID/iCloud account for our both iPhones?

Yes, for the last 11 years we’ve done that because Apple kind of refused to understand that a couple that lives together and raises three kids really wants to share more things than less. Sharing is caring.

Here’s a short recap how we’ve had it set up:

Other than that, we were on the same Apple ID which gave us the benefits of sharing most things by default:

  1. Contacts
  2. Calendars
  3. Notes
  4. Files
  5. Photos
  6. Passwords
  7. AirTags

One can argue that you can share Contacts and Calendars easily in iOS. Also, that you don’t have to share all Notes or Files, but have folders of each shared to have access to common stuff, and then each can have their own set ups. True, but we didn’t mind and it was very practical.

Photos was trickier. Only since iOS16 (only last year!) you can have truly shared photos - using the shared Photo Library. It took Apple years to figure out that people who live together would want to NOT care about who takes a photo and will not need an added management of copying photos later.

Shared Passwords and AirTags are finally coming to iOS17

Until now we’ve been using both built-in passwords in iOS and 1Password7 syncing to the Primary iCloud vault. Now that 1Password version 8 doesn’t support iCloud, this began to feel really difficult.

AirTags was a big deal. [We use them a lot](/airtag/. Really, a lot and why we couldn’t share their location was beyond me - we share the car keys and I’d like for both me and my wife to know where they are.

Now that all of these 7 points mentioned above can be set up as shared in iOS17, I will finally be able to split our Apple IDs and configure her iPhone with her Apple ID and set up things which we want shared, to be shared together.

If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it? Why I finally WANT to split our Apple IDs?

All these 11 years of using ONE Apple ID on both iPhones was kind of a hack. In the end, my iPhone is mine and her is hers. Sometimes I would configure something on my iPhone and this configuration would move to hers for some reason. But these services were particularly annoying:

At the end of the day, we do want to have our separate Apple IDs but we’d love to continue to share things that we care about. So here’s what we’re going to do:

How to separate our Apple IDs and share things explicitly?

Here’s my step-by-step guide to be able to split our Apple IDs. It’s going to be lots of work:

Step 1 - invite her Apple ID to the family

Firstly I’ll add the Apple ID that she uses for iMessage to our family as a “family member”. I have to invite her to the family. Then I will log her out from our main account on her iPhone and log her in to her Apple ID.

Step 2 - set up shared Contacts

She will not have any Contacts in her Apple ID as she’s never used it for that, so on her iPhone I need to let her just have access to the contacts in our former Main Apple ID:

This way we’ll still be sharing all the contacts together. She’ll have an option to add different contacts to her own contacts, but by default when she’s adding a new contacts it will be shared with me, which is exactly what we want.

Step 3 - set up shared Calendars

From my iPhone I’ll just invite her to share our old Calendars with her Apple ID. She’ll accept the invites from her iPhone and we’ll choose one Calendar as her default calendar.

Step 4 - set up shared Notes

I’ll set up a new folder in Notes and call it something like “Family Notes” and I’ll move most of our Notes there. It’ll be a good moment for me to review all our Notes and if we need more management, instead of adding more folders I’ll just use tags.

From now on, we both will be able to create our own notes but we’ll make sure that if they’re meant to be shared, they have to be moved to our “Family” folder.

Or maybe we’ll share more folders than just one? We’ll see…

Step 5 - set up shared Files

Similar situation to Notes. I’ll need to set up separate shared folders for both of us and move the files that need to be shared in there. She wasn’t using Files a lot so most of the files in there are my files as I’m relying on them in my #iPadOnly setup but still, there are quite a few folders that we’d want to share.

Step 6 - set up shared Photos

Now this will be tricky. I’ll need to create an entire “shared Photo Library” for that and move most of our photos in there. I haven’t done that before so it’s a new territory for me. I’ll probably do it on my MacBook Air first and then make sure this works on both of our iPhones. I’ll clean up some things in the meantime - like moving all work-related screenshots to my own Photo Library. I’ll need to make sure that when we take photos, they default to the Shared Library, not the private one.

Step 7 - set up shared Passwords

I’m going to follow Simon’s guide to move from 1Password to iCloud passwords. Then I’m going to make sure to create a Group in Passwords, called “Family” and move most of our passwords there just like AppleInsider explains. I’ll invite my wife’s Apple ID to share this group with me and this way we’ll both have access to these passwords and we’ll both be able to modify them or add new passwords to this group.

Step 8 - set up shared AirTags

I’ll just go to my AirTags and on each click to “add person” to share the AirTag and use my wife’s Apple ID. I’ll also use this feature to share some AirTags with my daughters so they can track these devices as well. Especially house keys or their bikes.

I have reached the AirTag limit (I use AirTags a lot) so I’m hoping to add several AirTags to my wife’s Apple ID and then share their location with me, this way we’ll go around this artificial limit set by Apple.

Step 9 - switch her Apple Watch to the new Apple ID

Now I need to check that she also has the new Apple ID on her watch. If not, I’ll switch to it in the Watch app and see how this goes. If all goes well, I’ll enable Health to be also synced to her Apple ID. Finally.

Step 10 - switch her other devices to her new Apple ID

She’s rocking AirPods Pro, Beats Studios, Beats Solo Wireless and all of these devices will need to be switched to her Apple ID. I think I’m just going to un-pair them from our main Apple ID and pair with hers.

I’ll test it all first!

Before I do all of the above I’ll just set up her Apple ID on my Mac and see how this goes. For that to work, I think I’ll need to wait a week when MacOS Sonoma ships. I’ll test all of the steps first before making the move. It’s her iPhone and she uses it a lot so I want to make sure I don’t screw anything up.

Finally an iFamily setup that we deserve!

People are different, many couples are different. Me and my wife prefer to share things rather than have them separate. In our private life we default to sharing, too. We share money (all our incomes come to our joint bank accounts), we share our houses, we share our kids. My wife is even a co-owner of my company. We find it’s less management to share things by default. That’s why this hack of a setup with two iPhones using the same main iCloud ID worked for us until now.

Let’s hope this new setup is indeed better and I’m not missing something we rely on. I’ll report back after a few months!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023 /ifamily23/