How to Buy an App for Someone Else: A Guide to Apple’s Family Sharing Feature

Send a gift Open the App Store app, iTunes Store app, or Books app. Tap the item that you want to give. Tap the Gift button: In the App Store, tap the Share button , then tap Gift App . ... Follow the onscreen instructions to personalize and send your gift. After the gift is sent, the recipient gets an email.

Have you ever purchased an expensive app on your iPhone and wondered if you could share it with your family or friends? Maybe you purchase a game on your iPhone and you wanted to download the same app to your kids’ Apple devices. You can sign in to all their devices with your own Apple ID, but this presents various security issues. Luckily, Apple already provides a way to share apps between family members: Family Sharing.

Family Sharing allows you to invite anyone in your family (up to a maximum of six people) into a shared account that includes all of your App Store purchases, and more, so long as the app supports Family Sharing. Considering that some apps can get pretty expensive, Family Sharing starts looking very appealing.

To enable Family Sharing, go to Settings, tap on your name, tap Setup Family Sharing, and tap Get Started. You can now choose the first feature you’d like to share with your family. In this guide, we’ll choose iTunes and App Store purchases. You can enable the rest of the features later.

Confirm your account in the shared payment method. Don’t worry, your family members won’t be able to purchase anything without your permission. Now, tap “Invite Family Members.” A new message with an invitation will be created, and you can instantly invite multiple people. After sending the invitation, the recipient simply needs to tap on it and tap “Join Family.” They’ll now have the option of sharing their own personal purchases with the rest of the family.

Now, they can head into the Family Sharing settings and see the organizer and what features are being shared. They can also navigate to the App Store and search for an app that other family members have already purchased. When they reach the app’s page, it’ll show that they need to purchase it. Simply back out of the app and tap on the user profile. You’ll instantly see other family members under the “Family Purchases” section. Just tap on a member, and you’ll see the list of purchased apps that are shared. Now, simply tap the “Download from iCloud” button.

As you can see, we’ve now downloaded and are playing the game that was previously purchased by the family member. Since the family member we invited decided to share their own personal purchases, the family organizer can now go in and download any app that the new family member purchased in the past, like this fishing game that costs $4.

This process is exactly the same for iTunes and iBooks purchases. The organizer can now go back to the Family Sharing settings, tap on any family member, and either remove them from the family or confirm that they are parents or guardians. Doing so will allow them to approve app purchase requests from children.

In the Family Sharing settings, you can share other features like Apple Music, iCloud Storage, and Location. We’ll walk you through the rest of these features in a future guide.

If you tap on “Purchase Sharing,” you can disable “Share My Purchases.” This means that the other family members can still share their own purchases, but they won’t have access to yours. You can also view the shared payment method or stop Family Purchase Sharing completely.

You can now add more family members with the option of inviting via iMessage or inviting in person, which allows you to invite family members by name, email address, or Game Center nickname. You can also create a child account, which will require permission from a parent or guardian to make purchases. You’ll simply get a notification when your child asks for permission to buy an app, and you’ll have the option to accept or deny the request straight from your phone.

If you’re the organizer, you can tap on your own name and either change the Family Sharing account settings or stop Family Sharing completely.

Family Sharing is a great way to share your purchases with your loved ones and save money. Give it a try!


Why can't I Gift an app on my iPhone?
"If you're using Family Sharing and Ask To Buy is turned on for your account, you can't purchase gifts." Restart your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch -- If you're not part of a Family Sharing and Ask to Buy isn't on, restart your iPad. Once it's returned to the Home screen, see if you're able to gift an app.
Can you Gift Play Store apps?
To send a digital gift, your recipient must be registered for Google Play in the same country as you. Currently, you can't send other digital content as gifts or lend digital content to another account. However, you can share apps and digital content with your family with Google Play Family Library.
How do I download an app I already paid for on another device?
Open the App Store app. Tap the sign-in button or your photo at the top of the screen. Tap Purchased. If you use Family Sharing, tap My Purchases or choose a family member's name to see content that they purchased.