Ask LH: How Can I Share My iPad Between Multiple Users?

Hi Lifehacker, I’m about to purchase an iPad Air 2 — I’ve looked at the other tablet options and it seems the best fit for my needs. But here’s the challenge: I want to share it with my wife.

Clearly I have different app needs and usage patterns to my wife (I’m the geekier of the two of us), and there’s also the issue of the fingerprint scanner. I suppose we could each swipe different digits, but the ideal solution would be different profiles. Is there any way to have this on an iPad?

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Picture: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Dear SASA,

Unfortunately, you’ve hit on one of the main limitations of iOS — it doesn’t offer any methods for easily swapping between users on the same device. There were rumblings that this might change in iOS 8, but it didn’t happen.

There’s no telling if Apple will decide to add multi-account options in the future, but right now it doesn’t seem likely. The fact that it’s effectively impossible to expand storage on an iPhone or iPad is also a factor here; with multiple regular users, you’d run out of space even more quickly.

Android offers this facility, but you’ve said you’re happy with the iPad as a choice. Realistically, you only have two options for sharing. The first is to purchase a second tablet for your wife. That will keep Apple’s shareholders happy, but cost you more.

The other option is to use the same device but agree to use different apps. For instance, if you’re using the built-in Mail app, your wife could use a different third-party app or a web-based email solution. You could install an additional browser if you want distinct browsing histories. Sort apps for each of you into individual folders. On the fingerprint front, the simplest solution would be not to use it and stick with a password instead — at least for one of you.

Is that a particularly optimal solution? No — but if you don’t want to buy a second device, it’s a possible approach. If readers have other iPad sharing strategies to share, tell us in the comments.


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