Ask LH: Can I Get Around Apple's Device Limit?

Dear Lifehacker, I want to connect more of my iDevices to the one Apple account. I added it up the other day and I have way too many devices! There are two Mac Minis, three iPhones, four iPads and six iPad Nanos. 2 x Mac mini's Apple has my money . We are a family of six and they are everywhere. I'm sure the kids are hiding more from me. Maybe the devices are breeding under the beds. But what to do? Is there any effective way I can share content from a single account with all those devices? Thanks, Apple Addict

Dear Apple Addict

I feel your pain. We're a household with seven computers and a bunch of iOS devices. Most of the time, we get by on Apple's five authorised device limit.

In our view, the five computer limit is a hangover from the days when the FairPlay DRM system was more restrictive than it is now and it's a place where Apple hasn't modernised its DRM as households have moved from one computer per home to multiple devices per person.

On the upside, you can sync any number of iOS devices with one iTunes library. In my house, we have designated a Mac mini as the official iTunes machine. It's used for device syncing with everyone having their own playlists so they can sync according to their specific preferences.

One new feature that's part of iOS 5 and iTune 10 is the ability to wirelessly sync across your network. If access to your library machine is limited or you don't want to have seven sync cables hanging off your Mac, this can make life easier.

As far as sharing between machines, you can de-authorise individual computers and re-authorise them to work around the five computer limit for Home Sharing. That's a pain but can work if most of the computers don't need to be in constant contact with each other.

So, designate one central iTunes library machine and get all your iOS devices and iPods to sync from it using playlists for each person or device. The five computer limit for Home Sharing is a pain but can be worked around.


    Seven computers Anthony?! Wow!
    Can I ask what you use each one for? I'm really curious!

      Seven comes from

      2 kids with laptops
      My Mac laptop, windows tablet/laptop and iMac
      Shared desktop
      Mac mini media server

      All are in active use. I didn;t count the two test boxes that only come out for projects as needed

        Ah ok; sounds like they're all being put to good use.

        Where do I get iPad Nanos?

    Sounds like it might be time for an intervention!
    Apple addict, you know your family and friends loves you, but.......

    :O when did the ipad nanos get announced???

      They're called iPhones

        Hahahaha not bad. I rate this response very highly.

    Oh, one thing that I'm having trouble with is that, our house is a two iPhone one iPad house, we also have an old iPhone 3G kicking around.

    Is there anything we should do with that device? Deregister

      @ Blake I use my old Iphone as a remote for both Airplay and XBMC. Also, have a SIP Client installed so it's another house phone.

    I thought accounts were for individuals, not groups of people? Should each user have their own account to use with their devices?

      Technically yes. However you can't have an Apple account for a person under the age of 13 in their own name, and you can't have multiple accounts in your own name. It's a real problem when you have kids. I know lots of people ignore the section of the TOS that states the account holder must be over 13 but you run the risk of the account being summarily deleted.

    @Blake. If you have an ipod input in your car stereo, put a prepaid card in the phone and use it as a car emergency/media player device...

    Wireless sync BS!

    I have given up on this after many wasted hours

    just waiting for apple to surreptitiously "update" ios/iTunes at some later date

      Wireless Sync rocks !!! I sync two iPads and my iPhone from my iMac over Wireless Sync without any issues. It's much slower than pluggin in the cable... but MUCH MUCH MUCH more convienent and flexible and eliminates wires and cables. My only problem is Apple took so long to get there...

      Yeah it's never worked for me either, I just get error messages.

    Android man. Android.

      go read google privacy policy ... don't think you'll be backing android much longer

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