Manage multiple iPads | Tips for your family

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  December 30, 2020

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Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

I see a lot of questions about managing multiple iPads, and before answering the question I wanted to learn a little more about the background to the question.

I've found that it almost always has to do with two topics:

  1. you want to use multiple iPads in your family, for example for yourself and your children, and manage them easily
  2. you want to use multiple iPads for your company, such as for a school that wants to use it for the children or for other companies where the employees get one

I'll answer how to manage multiple iPads for these two questions here.

Manage multiple iPads within your family

With Family Sharing you can create an Apple ID for a child under the age of 13.

It allows them to participate in Family Sharing and use other Apple services such as iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime and Game Center.

To participate in Family Sharing, all family members must have their own Apple ID. Children under the age of 13 cannot create an Apple ID themselves.

However, the family organizer can provide verified parental consent and create an Apple ID in the family group on behalf of the child.

If your child already has an Apple ID, you can to your family group and update their email address, date of birth, security questions and more.

Check your payment method

Before you start, make sure you're using a supported payment method. You can check your payment method on your Apple ID account page.

You can manage and change your payment method from your device.

To comply with online privacy laws for children, use the CVV, SMS verification code or security code from your payment method as part of providing your verified parental consent.

If you don't have a supported payment method, you will be prompted to change it to a supported payment method before you can continue.

After creating the child's Apple ID, you can go back to another payment method.

Create an Apple ID for your child

Use the steps below to create an Apple ID for your child and then add it to your family group.

After you add your child to your family group, they will have their own Apple ID that they can use on any Apple device.

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Your email address is the recovery email address for your child's account, and you can use it with the security questions you entered to reset a forgotten password.

If the child already has a Game Center account, but no Apple ID, you don't need to create a new account for them. Just look for their nickname because it is already active.

Add a child on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch

Read also all about making your ipad kid friendly in my article here.

There are a lot more settings you can use to make your child's device suitable so that you will not be faced with surprises.

Definitely worth a read.

On your Mac with macOS Catalina

On a Mac with macOS Mojave or earlier

If your child has a Game Center account

If you want to add a child under the age of 13 who already has a Game Center account, but no Apple ID, follow these steps.

On iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 10.3 or higher

On your Mac with macOS Catalina

On your Mac with macOS Mojave or earlier

The child will be prompted to enter their Game Center password. After entering their password, the child will be part of your Family Sharing group.

Manage family sharing settings

Children can use the same Family Sharing features as other family members and have access to the same music, movies, TV shows, books and apps by default.

You can limit what content your child can access on the devices they use.

Stel restrictions or parental controls on an iOS device, in iTunes, or on a Mac.

Permission to purchase is enabled by default for children under 13. If you don't want to use Ask to buy, you can turn it off:

If you disable Ask to buy, the child can initiate purchases that will be billed to your payment method without notice, so be aware before doing this!

Also note that after they are 13 they can also make purchases.

Your child should remain in a family group until they turn 13.

However, you can transfer a child to another family group if necessary should such circumstances arise.

Can you sync 2 iPads with each other?

No, unfortunately you cannot sync 2 iPads with each other. You cannot connect the devices themselves.

You can sync the same content with both devices in iTunes, or you can use automatic downloads on both devices to keep your downloaded apps, books, and songs in sync on both iPads, but you can't sync one with the other.

Manage multiple iPads for school

iPads are becoming an important part of the learning resources, whether it is a learning resource for students or as a learning resource for yourself.

The devices are used in many subjects and often create opportunities that were not possible before.

Both primary and secondary schools have embraced the technology, but the path to iPad success isn't always smooth and deploying the devices (at any scale) can be challenging for everyone.

Elementary school vs high school

The iPad will be used in different ways during education.

For example, a primary school student could use the iPad to listen or watch an eBook with video or an iTunes U course created by the teacher.

Therefore, strategies for how the iPads are implemented must take these things into account, and there is certainly no rule that prescribes everything unambiguously.

High school students are more likely to have an email address and therefore a separate Apple ID (the username and password for downloading apps to the iPad) to set up their own iPad.

This means that the iPad can be specific to that student's needs.

For example, if the student is following history, the apps and books installed on this device are specific to that.

High schools may also have sets of iPads if they choose not to give each student their own AppleID to support individual needs.

Many high schools have provided an iPad to every student and even have a bring your own device policy to individualize the tools and content usage on the iPad.

Mobile device management software such as Meraki, can be set up to wirelessly install and remove apps for students, and to impose restrictions and authorizations.

There is often an IT department to handle all this.

In primary education, the picture is different: primary schools are often smaller and most students have not been given school email addresses or individual iTunes accounts.

Another problem is budget, as many primary schools cannot afford to give every student an iPad.

That's why small sets of iPads are bought so that schools can try out the potential without having to spend their budget on it.

Another difference is IT support, as many primary schools have an IT coordinator who is often a full-time class teacher and their technician is usually taken care of by central IT who visits the school once a week.

That's why elementary school teachers are starting to gain more control over their iPad implementations. This is a good thing.

Individual device

The iPad is designed for the personal user as a device somewhere between a laptop and a smartphone.

It is built around an Apple ID and apps that can be set to work directly for the user. For example, Ebay and Twitter apps can be set up so that they are permanently signed in to the user.

The iPad is not designed to be shared like laptops or PCs. This works well when a school has an iPad for each student, but requires different considerations when using fewer iPads for people to share.

There is no file management system on the iPad with the only place to store on the device itself, which is the camera roll that only holds photos and videos.

Hence, all other files are stored in the apps themselves. This makes the workflow challenging when students share devices as they need to send their finished work to the teacher via the cloud or wirelessly.

Many primary schools buy between 10 and 50 iPads in the beginning. The temptation is to keep these as one set that can be booked by teachers in the same way as a laptop.

However, this can cause a number of problems. First, the restrictions for the iPads will be different for each stage.

For example, the youngest classes may want to disable safari and use Guided Access a lot more than grade 7 and 8 teachers. The teacher does not want to have to set restrictions himself every time he uses the iPads.

Second, the apps on the iPads will differ by group. For example, early years will use more early letter, number, and role-playing apps.

Considering the space the apps take up, the work students will store in those apps, and the photos and videos in the camera roll, there's little space left on a 16GB iPad to hold all the apps and content which is needed for the entire primary school with all groups.

Finally, the camera on the iPad is the most used app, especially in the somewhat older groups.

Students will soon be building a large number of photos and videos within the camera roll of any iPad.

It is best to teach students how to use the photos and videos constructively by using them in other apps such as iMovie and Book Creator and then sharing them with the teacher through workflow solutions.

This means that the original photos and videos can be deleted from the iPads and the space can be restored.

However, this is much more difficult to achieve when the iPads are handed over by the classes, as time is much more limited and the next class will need them again.

Lessons about iPad use

The key to a successful iPad implementation lies in the hands of the teachers and how they develop ideas to creatively implement the devices in their lessons.

Trust is crucial and training and regular discussion is essential. Simply offering a set of iPads to a teacher can create stress rather than inspiration.

A teacher must first get to know the device, including its potential and limitations, and the risks.

Providing an iPad for a teacher at the beginning of an implementation and allowing him to use it as a learning tool increases his confidence.

Training and collaboration of employees will develop ideas and applications. Then regular meetings and sharing of best practices will grow.

This can happen for a period of six months before iPads are offered for use by the students in the classroom.

Group and manage iPads

One set of iPads deployed throughout the school can quickly cause difficulties as the iPads quickly fill up with apps, photos and videos.

By dividing the iPads into classes, year groups or important stages in the learning process, the iPads can be set for that age category.

The teacher (s) would then take individual control of their iPads and the devices would become a regular part of the classroom allowing for a better workflow and much more usage.

Teachers will become more confident the more they have access to the device and are more spontaneous to use.

The iPad is an individual device, but how it's used in the classroom doesn't have to be.

Collaboration is crucial for students who successfully use the iPads while working together to create eBook, music and movies.

Does the learner really maximize the device by playing a math game? Possibly not.

A small group of iPads in the classroom can have the same, if not more, use than individual devices for each student.

Students will develop sharing, communication and teamwork skills and really broaden their creative skills.

It also means that the iPads receive less attention in class and that students start to decide when the iPads can be used effectively.

For example, is the iPad the best device for typing a story? Is the iPad the best device for creating an eBook?

An iPad table can be created where students can spend time working and carousel for other activities within the class.

This works especially well in History and Geography classes, where the iPad can hold or be used as the evidence-making tool once the evidence is collected.

The goal may be for each student to have their own iPad, but there is so much potential with just a few iPads that you don't necessarily have to.

Manage Apple ID

The Apple ID is linked to a device to download apps (paid or free) using an attached credit card or iTunes Voucher.

You can use one Apple ID with as many iPads as you want, just by connecting them all to a Mac or PC with iTunes.

Up to 10 iPads can also be managed using the automatic download (Settings app then App Store).

With every iPad connected to the same Apple ID and with automatic downloads activated on every device, when an app is downloaded on one iPad, it is automatically forwarded to the 9 other iPads.

This makes it very easy for a teacher to manage the devices in his class.

Teachers can get iTunes vouchers and set up their own Apple ID (generic email recommended like class name in case teacher moves out of school) and use the voucher to download apps specific to their class and subjects.

For starters, the teacher has only one iPad (teacher iPad) associated with an Apple ID, but then adds another 9 as the iPad implementation grows.

Beyond 10 managing iPads, a Mac / PC is required to install apps or MDM software such as Meraki or LightSpeed.

The problem with MDMs, however, is that it requires a technical person / company to deploy the iPads and the teacher loses control because they have to pass requests.

Volume Licensing

Apple developed the volume licensing program because, as mentioned above, schools manage multiple iPads with one iTunes account.

It is only possible to purchase an app once with one iTunes account, but the user agreement requires each app to be purchased for the number of iPads it is on.

For example, if 20 iPads all have the Book Creator app, the school must use volume licensing to purchase 20 copies of the app with a 50% discount for purchases of 20+ apps and above.

Grouping iPads into classes / year groups or major stages can help a school save money with volume licensing, as not all apps need to appear on every iPad.

As mentioned earlier, it is important to share best practices.

Discussions about staff meeting apps can be important.

Some apps can be used throughout the school, but others may only be required in a particular learning development or topic.

Tips for sharing iPads

When you share iPads in class, as well as in other locations, there are a few things you can use to make this a little easier.


Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child, he came into contact with everything around games when his mother started the Tin Soldier in Ede. Since 2016, he and his team have been creating helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.