Most of the iCloud Family Plan is awesome. For $25/month, you get 2TB of family storage for up to six family members. You also get Fitness, Arcade and AppleTV. I don't know that we use much more than the family storage and AppleTV, but it's nice to have the other stuff.
The most confusing thing about this is that Apple Family Purchasing doesn't work the way I though it does. I thought that all purchases are just thrown into a gigantic bucket, but it turns out that this is not how it works. If you want to enable it, you have to go to each family member and have them remember to share their purchases.
Enable Share My Purchases
This works fine if you are the Adult and there are Children, but you can also share with other folks over 18 and not surprisingly it gets more complicated because each person can manage what they share and what they hide. So for each grown up here is what you have to do:
- If you are an iDevice, then go to Settings > <Your Name> > Family Sharing and tap on your name and make sure that this is the correct Apple ID and you have all the family Members there.
- Now go to Settings > <Your Name> > Purchase Sharing. This is way down the menu and you can see which users are doing purchase sharing. If it is not the entire family, then you are going have to enable it across their devices. So they need go to that entry and toggle Share Purchases with Family
Now of course on MacOS, it is a little different:
- Got to the Apple Menu > System Preferences > Family Sharing which is the button on the upper right
- Click on the Purchase Sharing icon that is at the lower left
- Click on Share My Purchases button
See Purchases made by others
OK, now this is the really confusing part, if this is enable, you *do not* get an integrated list, instead, you have to go to each family member and see what they've bought. If those apps are enabled for family sharing you don't have to buy them again.
So in each application there is a new section and where it lives is different:
- The Music app on MacOS. Go to the toolbar and choose Account > Family Purchases. Then on the upper left, you will see Purchases and then a pull down so you can select the person and what they've bought. Then click on each to add them to your library.
- The iTunes Store in iDevices. Go to the iTunes Store application (Music no longer is where you buy things and this is sorta irrelevant if you have Apple Music), then choose More or the three dots at the lower left and then Purchases and you should see below the purchases from other family members. It is relevent for movies or things you bought from Apple though.
- The App Store on MacOS. At the lower left click on your name. Then at the upper right you will see Purchased By as a pull down. Click on it to see what other folks in your family have bought. Note that there is no integrated list, so you have to go through each person and it will include free apps so it is hard to find the ones that have been purchased. Note that although you can't download, them, you can click on the upper left tab for iPhone & iPad Apps and see what folks have bought on those systems. Note that if you are using family sharing previously, applications that you get from others then appear in your list, so the best thing to do is to have a "master account" like the owner and have that person click on everything so you don't have to constantly search all these separate lists.
- The App Store on iDevices. Start the App Store and click on the icon that is you on the upper right of the screen and then click on Purchased. At the bottom of this pane you will see an entry for each family member, click there to see what they've bought and download it for yourself. One convenient thing is that when you click there, you can click on the right pane for Not on this iPhone so you can see what's not already downloaded, but again you can't tell what was free and what cost money.
- The Book app on MacOS. I didn't realize you could buy books on Apple, we normally just use Kindle, but here is what you do start Books. Click on the image of you and your name at the lower left. A popup will arrive and at the bottom are the Family Purchases made by others.
- The Book app on iDevices. Start the Book app and then on the upper right, you will see your name and icon. Coick on it and then in the center of the screen you will see Family Purchases
Hiding purchases (at least I can't find it)
Note that you can hide purchases if you don't want your kids to use certain applications. Again, this differs by the type of content:
- Music App on MacOS. OK this is not intuitive, go to the Menu bar and click on Account > Family Preferences. When you get to the purchase, you click on the x at the upper left like you are going to delete it (which is really strange) and then when you click on it, you get the option to hide it. Then to reverse it, go to the Music App and on the Toolbar Account > Family Purchases > Hidden Purchases is supposed to be there but I couldn't find it.
- iTunes Store App on iDevices. Click on the More at the lower left and then Purchases and then your Family Purchases but again I couldn't find the Hidden Purchases so it looks like you can hide but you can't unhide
- Books app on iDevices. Click on your personal icon at the top right then you can see Manage Hidden Purchases at the bottom below family purchases
- Books apps on MacOS. Click on your personal icon at the lower left, then see Manage Hidden Purchases below the Family Purchases section.
- App Store on MacOS. Start App Store, click on the lower left where your name and icon are sitting, then click at the upper right on View Information and enter your Apple Id password, then in the center of the screen you can click on Manage Hidden purchases
- App Store on iDevices. Start App Store and click on your icon at the upper right, but I couldn't find the Manage Hidden Purchases anywhere.