Did your spouse just download a song you love using his or her own iTunes account and you want to load it on your iPhone? If you’re in a household with multiple iTunes accounts and iPhones, it’s possible to share content between them, even if they were purchased under different accounts. This Learning iPhone article will show you just how to do this.

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First and foremost, however, what we’re talking about here is a legal way to share content between iPhones and iTunes accounts in the same household. Apple allows you to authorize up to 5 computers in one household to play purchased content – the intent here is to allow families with multiple accounts and devices (for example, parents and their children each with their own iTunes accounts and iPods or iPhones) to share purchased content. For more details on this, please see the iTunes Terms of Service. We here at EverythingiCafe.com are in no way recommending piracy or violating the iTunes Terms of Service. If you have questions about the iTunes Terms of Service, you should contact Apple directly (or even seek legal counsel).

Note that iPhones and iPods can only sync media content with one computer and this article provides instructions for this set-up.

Step 1: Authorize all iTunes accounts on your computer

In order to track and limit the number of computers associated with an iTunes account, Apple requires each computer to be “authorized” which logs the computer’s information with Apple. Authorizing a computer is as easy as selecting the Authorize command in the Store menu in iTunes

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If you’re already using multiple iTunes accounts on your computer, you’ve already done this (otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to play or sync any content from these accounts) and you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Choose what to sync

When you connect your iPhone to your computer, you’ll be able to choose content and apps to sync with it without needing to do anything special at all. All content from separate iTunes accounts stored on and authorized to play on your computer can be synced to your iPhone just as if you were choosing content from a single iTunes account. In fact, unless you know off the top of your head, you won’t be able to tell the difference between content from different iTunes accounts in your Itunes media library as you select items to sync.

That’s it! You’re syncing items from different iTunes accounts to your iPhone. Easy, wasn’t it? When it comes to apps purchased with different iTunes accounts, things do get a little trickier, however.

Updating apps

On your computer

iTunes lets you know there are updates for apps by showing a number representing the number of updates available in the source list on the left in iTunes. You can also manually force a check for updates by clicking on the Check for Updates link in the bottom right in the Applications view – this will generate a pop-up message letting you know whether or not you have updates available.

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Clicking on View Updates will show you all the updates that are currently available for the apps in your iTunes library.

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Here’s the tricky part: when there are app updates available and you choose to Update All, you may get an error message if not all of these apps were purchased or downloaded using the account through which you are currently logged into iTunes (you can see the current account in the upper right corner when viewing any part of the iTunes store).

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When you see this error, none of the updates will be downloaded, including those purchased with the account under which you’re currently logged in. This did not happen in iTunes versions before the current one, 9.0.3, and we think it’s a bug that will hopefully be addressed in the next version of iTunes.

On your iPhone

You can also choose to update apps directly on your iPhone through the App Store app. The last tab, labeled Updates, will show you what updates are available, if any. If none are available, you’ll simply see a message stating this when you visit this tab.

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You can update apps individually by selecting an app in the list and tapping on the FREE button on the right. Or, you can choose to update them all at once by tapping on the button in the top right. Whichever method you choose, you’ll be asked to enter your iTunes account password.

Fortunately, the App Store on your iPhone is a bit smarter than the desktop version of iTunes is at the moment and even though you may be logged in to another iTunes account on your iPhone (you can check this by going to Settings/Store), you’ll be prompted for the password for the correct account under which the app update you’re trying to download was purchased; though note that the iPhone must first have been synced with a computer authorized to use that iTunes account.

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That’s it for this week’s Learning iPhone article. You know everything you need to know in order to sync and update content from multiple iTunes account to your iPhone. Hit us up with any questions or comments below!