I’ve been a long-time fan of Apple computers, mostly because my experience has been that when I want to do stuff, I can do it easily. When I returned to Uni to study a post-graduate degree I ended up switching to a Windows 10 laptop, simply because that was all I could afford. I found Windows 10 much improved over the earlier versions I was used to, but still not as nice to use as MacOS.

What does any of that have to do with getting iCloud Family Sharing to work? Not a whole lot, except to indicate what my expectations were: Click a few buttons, maybe enter a password, and it would just work.

In theory that was what happened, except when I set up my son’s account and turned on “Ask to Buy” it didn’t work. I was expecting that he’d find an app, install it, I’d get an alert and allow the app to be installed if it was one I was happy for him to have. What actually happened was that he’d find an app, install it, ask to have it approved, then I’d get nothing. If I tried to approve the app on his device then I couldn’t because it wasn’t showing the keyboard for me to enter my password.

Talk about frustrating, and very much not what I was used to when it came to using Apple stuff. A quick search of the Internet later, and I was none the wiser. It seems like it’s a common enough problem to show up on Apple’s community discussion pages, but it seemed like most people just needed to sign in to their iCloud accounts to fix their problems. I knew I was already signed in.

After some more digging around, I found an Apple support article which mentioned that Ask to Buy alerts wouldn’t get shown if the app was one that had already been purchased by the Family Sharing organiser. Great, that explains the problem, but it doesn’t tell me how to fix it. After yet more searching, I couldn’t find anything to tell me how to actually get such an app to install, so I did what I do best: mess around with stuff until it works.

The solution was remarkably simple, as it turns out. Here’s how to install an app on a child’s linked iCloud account that has been purchased by the parent:

  1. Go into the App Store on the child’s device
  2. Tap the account icon at top right.
  3. Tap on “Purchased”
  4. There will be a list of linked accounts, tap on the Parent’s account
  5. Search for the app to install, and install it.

The process itself isn’t overly difficult, but I found it frustrating to deal with. For starters, even though I may have purchased an app previously, why should I not get notified that my child wants to install it? I can’t see any good reason to remove notifications for apps I have that my child wants. Secondly, it would be nice to have a support article that can be Googled to explain the process. Even better would be to have a message when installing such an app that tells you how to go about installing it without needing to search for answers.

I wonder how many frustrated parents are out there, convinced that there’s some major problem, and not using a handy tool that could make their lives easier? For years I’ve put up with my phone filling up with games, because I used my app store account on my son’s devices, just so I could have a bit of control over what he downloaded and used. Now that he wants to use things like iMessage to chat with grandparents I had to face the fact that he’d need his own iCloud account.

I’d avoided doing so because I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to secure. It turns out setting up a child account is easy, preventing situations such as huge credit card bills is easy, but it’s not all easy. Still, despite the problems I’ve dealt with, I’d still recommend using it. Now, does anyone know how to stop a child messaging continuously?