When sharing an Apple ID creates iMessage and text message confusion

A reader’s family shares a single account, but wants to separate out messages. They can’t.

messages ios icon

Danielle Gibbons notes that her family has a single Apple ID/iCloud account, “and we keep getting each other’s text messages. How do we stop that from happening?”

Unfortunately, an Apple ID and the associated iCloud account are a single entity—there’s no way to split out multiple, different text messaging or iMessage delivery addresses.

However, it is possible to use third-party messaging apps, like WhatsApp (free, iTunes Store link), and third-party apps that handle sending and receiving text messages, like Text Free, because you can set up a unique account with those services.

WhatsApp is free to use, but all the people with whom you’re communicating have to also use WhatsApp.

Text Free and other apps that support mobile-network SMS text messages create a “real” phone number to route incoming and outgoing messages from the app that appear just like text messages to other people. However, these apps pursue different payment models: some may append advertising to your texts unless you pay; others have in-app purchases for bundles of texts. Check reviews to find the best match.

Ask Mac 911

We’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions we get, and the answers to them: read our super FAQ to see if you’re covered. If not, we’re always looking for new problems to solve! Email yours to mac911@macworld.com including screen captures as appropriate. Mac 911 cannot reply to email with troubleshooting advice nor can we publish answers to every question.

Subscribe to the Best of Macworld Newsletter