How to Sync Your Family’s Music, Movies and E-Books So Everybody’s Happy

March 18, 2015 - storage organizer

Updated Mar 17, 2015 4:11 p.m. ET

Dear tech companies: If we wish me, accept my family, too.

Gadget makers and providers of digital services too mostly assume you’re all by yourself, erratic a Internet, selling apps, strain and books for an assembly of one. In reality, you’ve got a spouse, children, grandparents, roommates, cousins, an ex or two…or those houseguests we usually can’t shake.

So we burst by hoops, like hidden your spouse’s Kindle to review an e-book that you’d usually steal if it were a paperback. Or we put adult with annoyances, like when your daughter’s My Little Pony mania takes over your video queue.

Some people mess-up by these hurdles by pity passwords. That’s annoying, not unequivocally secure, and infrequently causes things to break.

Case in point: Google’s Play Store, during a heart of many Android phones and tablets for selling apps, games, cinema and music. Google assigns any squeeze to one username and password. But what if 3 people in your home have Android phones? There’s no candid approach to get your purchases onto those other phones yet also handing over a rest of your Google life. You can’t even temporarily record in to a Play Store to share purchases. Google says it’s wakeful of a problem and operative on it.


You competence assume that companies usually don’t wish we to share, yet that’s not a case. Apple, Amazon, Netflix and others have started to yield family plans, pity programs or singular profiles that classify things for we and your kinfolk.

Not all digital family formulation is equal, however. Approaches operation from everybody carrying to squeeze underneath one username and cue to everybody pity media yet gripping their possess identities. So far, Apple does it a best, and is open to many definitions of a family. But no association has totally burst a problem:


Apple allows adult to 6 people to share many of a digital things it sells—apps, music, cinema and e-books—so prolonged as usually one chairman is profitable a bill.

You set adult Family Sharing by building a family tree inside iCloud settings on your phone or computer. If you’re a Organizer, we play Daddy Warbucks and put all family purchases onto your credit card, unless someone has a present label to spend. Children (who contingency have their possess Apple accounts) make squeeze requests, that have to be authorized by a Organizer or another adult. New and before purchases are now accessible to everybody in a family—though we can choose to censor that copy of “50 Shades of Grey” if we want.

You can also use iTunes to trade movies, strain and apps between inclination on a home network regulating an comparison Apple use called Home Sharing.

Family Sharing has other advantages, including easier entrance to organisation calendars and a ability to lane any other’s location. Members can also share to a family iCloud print collection, yet we can’t automatically share all shots.

There are some critical limits: Family Sharing doesn’t request to in-app purchases, iCloud Drive storage or iTunes Music Match. And when we leave a family, we usually get to keep a digital purchases we instituted while partial of a family. It’s like when we went off to college and no longer had entrance to your dad’s record collection.

Apple still hasn’t tackled a disappointment of pity iPhones and iPads with children. There’s no approach to spin on a child-friendly mode, or set adult particular profiles, like we can do on many Android devices.


When it comes to books and shopping, Amazon has a family covered—at slightest a small, chief family.

I was astounded to learn there’s a approach to share Kindle e-books in what’s called a Family Library. You can usually supplement one other adult, yet you’ll get unlimited entrance to any other’s e-books. (Either side can censor particular titles.) And book bar couples rejoice: You can both review a same book yet losing anyone’s place.

Amazon doesn’t have a complement for children to make purchases. If we have a Fire tablet, we can set adult Family Library profiles that let domicile adults confirm that books, apps, games and videos children can entrance in Kindle FreeTime mode. (On tablets using Google’s Android, relatives can spin on a user form for children where immature ones can entrance a singular set of apps.)

One some-more thing: If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, we can share giveaway two-day shipping with up to 4 additional family members. To make certain you’re unequivocally family, Amazon asks both of we to name any other’s birthdays.

Sadly, we aren’t authorised to share other Prime advantages like streaming cinema and music. Even for a strain and cinema we squeeze outright, Amazon says it doesn’t nonetheless offer family sharing.

Microsoft Office

Need Word on everyone’s computer? The Microsoft Office 365 family subscription is one of a best deals in software. Normally $70 a year for one subscription, we can get 5 family logins for usually $100. Everyone gets entrance to a Office programs as good as their possess terabyte of OneDrive cloud storage—though they’ll need a Microsoft account.


For an additional $1 a month, Netflix lets we tide dual cinema or TV shows during a same time. (Longtime Netflix subscribers are grandfathered into a two-stream choice until May 2016.) Even with this family plan, everybody still has to use a same Netflix login and password.

There’s also a pretence to make pity a Netflix comment easier: Go to Manage Profiles to emanate adult to 5 profiles with their possess story and recommendations. Profiles flagged for children safeguard they usually see age-appropriate video.

HBO Hulu

HBO Go comes with a ability to tide 3 videos concurrently opposite opposite devices. To do this, everybody has to share a singular login and password. (See next for some tips on doing that.)

And while they don’t mostly check, sharing your login for this service with people outward of your evident domicile is a no-no.

Hulu Plus’s rules contend you’re singular to one stream, yet we was means to use it on dual inclination during once.

Spotify Rdio

Unlike those video services, strain subscription services generally usually concede we to tide one strain during a time. But both Spotify Premium and Rdio sell family plans, fundamentally usually discounting additional subscriptions by 50% so prolonged as one chairman pays a bill.

Moving from one common family streaming comment to mixed particular ones can be wily if you’ve got a lot of playlists and followed artists. To share playlists, we and your family members initial have to find and follow any other—it won’t occur automatically.

Microsoft Xbox Sony PlayStation

An Xbox Live Gold subscription extends to anyone in your home, and we can share games that anyone has bought. Just collect a diversion on a Xbox One and pointer in as yourself to play—even if a owners of a diversion isn’t sealed in. (The same relates to cinema and TV shows we buy on a Xbox One.)

PlayStation 4 works some-more like Apple’s Family Sharing. A master comment controls a wallet, yet subaccounts can have their possess profiles and share games and apps. To set adult subaccounts, demeanour for Parental Controls underneath Settings.


Sharing Passwords

The workaround for services that don’t make supplies for families, including The Wall Street Journal’s possess website and apps, is pity a singular login and password. But we don’t have to select a diseased cue to make certain everybody can remember it. Instead, use a cue manager like Dashlane or LastPass.

In Dashlane, click a Share icon, afterwards form a email of a chairman we wish to share with. He will need a giveaway Dashlane comment and app of his possess to see a password, yet he’ll always have a latest chronicle of your password—unless we devaluate access.

Lastpass does a same, and offers even some-more worldly controls. It lets we emanate a common family folder where we can hang a garland of common passwords. You can also share passwords in a approach that hides their content from a recipient, even as he’s blindly means to use them. That’s approach improved than flitting around a crumpled square of paper.

Write to Geoffrey A. Fowler during

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