Best Practices for Creating Apple IDs

Ben Greiner -

An Apple ID is a user name used to shop the iTunes Store, log in to iCloud, buy from the Apple Online Store, and more. An Apple ID is also essential to managing apps on an iOS device. Managing your own Apple ID across a few devices is not very complicated, but how does an organization with several — maybe several thousand — iOS devices handle Apple IDs? Specifically, what is the best way to create and manage these Apple IDs?

In an organization (or family) with several devices, it's tempting to create a single Apple ID and share it across many devices. Although this seems like the easiest and most controlled way to deploy, it will not work to try to associate more than 10 devices with a single Apple ID (unless you are using Apple Configurator). The absolute best way is to assign each device a unique Apple ID (ipad01@yourdomain.com, ipad02@yourdomain.com, or name1@yourdomain.com, name2@yourdomain.com). However, if you try to create several Apple IDs from the desktop you will eventually reach a limit (imposed by Apple) and will be unable to create additional accounts. So how does an organization create and manage multiple Apple IDs? There are three solutions.

 

 

1. Avoid The Desktop

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If you avoid the desktop and create unique Apple IDs directly from each iOS device, then the number of accounts you can create is limited only by the number of iOS devices. Obviously, if you have a large quantity of devices this can be tedious.

TIPS

  • Use a keyboard to speed things up.
  • You'll need to manually verify each new account through an email link sent from Apple so create one real email address (ios-master@yourdomain) and alias all the other accounts (ipad01@yourdomain.com, ipad02@yourdomain.com) to this address so all communication from Apple arrives at one account. (Remember to setup these aliases before creating the Apple IDs.)

2. Lift The Limit

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Talk to your local Apple Solutions Engineer (SE) to temporarily lift the Apple ID restriction ("Safe-list your IP") so you can generate several Apple IDs from the desktop. To save time creating these accounts there is the Batch Apple ID Creator AppleScript.

Remember, you'll need to manually verify each new account through an email link from Apple so it may be helpful to use email aliases as described in solution number one (Avoid The Desktop).

UPDATE: If you have an Apple Global Service Exchange (GSX) account then you can use the "Mass Creation of Users Template" to create several Apple IDs — and this does not appear to require the safe-listing of your IP! However, although these IDs can be used to make App purchases they can NOT be used with iCloud.

3. Offload the Task

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If the iOS device will be assigned to a particular user then we strongly encourage organizations to consider offloading the task of Apple ID account creation to the user of the device. Ask them to use an existing Apple ID or provide instructions on how to create one.

NOTE: Because every iOS app must be attached to an Apple ID during installation, offloading this task means that the enduser (an employee or student) will own the app once they install the app using their Apple ID. If you wish to retain ownership of the app, then you must signup for Apple's Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) for Business or Education. This also requires a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, like Robot Cloud

Tips, Tricks & Caveats

One way we have temporarily gotten around the Apple ID constraint is to backup the "Master" iOS device using iTunes then Restore the backup to multiple devices. A newer and better method is to use Apple Configurator. Both methods (Backup/Restore or Configurator) will allow a single Apple ID to live on any number of devices. This may be a fine solution for limited-use cases like a training program, a business conference or school lab — anything that involves syncing all iOS devices to a central Mac. However, if an app is present, and this app later needs to be updated through the App Store then beware of these issues:

  1. Someone must enter the Apple ID username and password. It's not recommended that you share this because anyone with this information could change the account password, add or change the linked credit card information, and ultimately buy apps with no restrictions.
  2. To avoid sharing the account password you must manually update each device, meaning you must have physical access to every device.
  3. Finally, regardless of which method above you choose, the app update will fail after a certain number of updates because Apple expects to see a limited number of devices connected to a single Apple ID. When several devices check-in with the same ID, the system notices and responds by blocking the account. (One way around this is to sync to a central Mac. Configurator can sync up to 30 devices at a time.)

Summary

Until Apple delivers a better solution (Apple IDs for companies, or a way for a company to centrally manage several Apple IDs, please!) the solutions outlined above will work best. If you have any additional tips or experiences surrounding best practices for creating Apple IDs, please share them!

FYI

Ben Greiner is the President of Forget Computers, a technology management company focused exclusvely on Mac and iOS devices. His team is also the maker of Robot Cloud. Ben was recently Session Chair for the MacTech InDepth: Mobile Device Management event in Chicago.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner
  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    This article was featured in  http://www.ibusinessmag.com

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    Brian Frondorf

    Hi, thanks for the article and clarrification.   Now an additional question related to the AppleID.  We are a county government and we are implementing corporate only iPad's so we control the AppleID creation.  Now IOS 6 requires you to set up the AppleID with a credit card or itunes card.  We don't and do not want to have either.  I see no way around this requirement.  Tried on device and through itunes without success.   Any ideas?

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Hi Brian, I believe it's still possible to create an Apple ID that is NOT linked to a credit card. See Apple instructions here (updated 6 days ago):  http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2534

  • Avatar
    Brian Frondorf

    Hi Ben, Last night I worked with Apple Support on multiple iPad V2 and new,  reset an iPad, attempted through itunes and "None" never appeared as an option.  We were on the phone for at least a couple hours.  I read your article and the links today and then gave it another go when you responded.  I have no idea what is different today but "None" is now an option.  Thanks for the the post and reply. 

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Excellent! Great news, Brian.

  • Avatar
    Brian Frondorf

    Yes, corresponding with Apple Support now.  If I am able to replicate, I will post.

  • Avatar
  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Parent Guide - Apple ID for Students (PDF)

    What Apple wants parents to know about Apple IDs for students under 13.

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    BenY

    Dear Ben,

    Many thanks for this old solutions but very important for us.
    We have to create 350 Apple ID account but nobody at APPLE SUPPORT have the solution for Whitelist our IP adress.
    Do you know how to contact Apple for whitelist our IP adress ?

    Thank you for your jobs !!!

  • Avatar
    Afif Rais

    Encountered the same problem, had to create over 70 new Apple ID. Finally used a TOR browser to create multiple Apple IDs, works like a charm. Thanks a lot Apple for making our lives difficult.

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Thanks for the tip Afif!

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    @BenY, sorry I missed your comment — 3 months ago! I'm sure you've solved your problem by now. For others ... start by asking the Business Team at your nearest Apple Store.

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    Afif Rais

    There's more, once I created the Apple IDs I have to verify them with a payment method in iTunes. It is blocked there too! Had to use multiple VPN connection from all over the world!!

  • Avatar
    Martin Bjerregaard

    Are there a new solution on creating many apple id's ?

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Hi Martin, I'm not aware of any new process for creating many Apple IDs. I am at MacSysAdmin in Sweden and it was discussed that a plan for Apple IDs is a MUST:

    APPLE ID ...
    - Identifies a user to Apple.
    - Can be (most) any verifiable email address.
    - Provides access to Apple services
    - Is required for VPP Managed Distribution.
    - Apple ID for students (under 13 yrs), http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6206

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Martin, It was brought to my attention that you may want to consider the new Apple VPP program, http://www.apple.com/business/vpp/. I also updated this article to reflect the changes — you can now retain ownership of iOS apps.

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Family Sharing and Apple IDs for kids
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT201084

    If you don't meet the age requirement to create an Apple ID
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6206

  • Avatar
    Brian Anderson

    "Until Apple delivers a better solution (Apple IDs for companies, or a way for a company to centrally manage several Apple IDs, please!) "

    rofl.

    You'll see 142 character Twitter posts or a credible, respected third political party in the US before that happens.

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Brain, Ha! We can dream, can't we!? :)

    Family Sharing is a step in the right direction.

  • Avatar
    lifethinkist

    Get and Create an Apple ID for Free Without iTunes, iPhone, or Credit Card
    - http://www.lifethinkist.com/tech/get-apple-id

    Want to create an Apple ID without iTunes or an iPhone? Sign up at iCloud to get a free Apple ID, 1 GB storage, and access to iWork online.

    Note that there are a couple limitations with this method, so it might not be what you are looking for. The link talks about them and has an overview and screenshots of how to do this.

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    @lifethinkist, thanks for contributing!

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    Ken Fried

    Thanks so much for this article, it really sums up the problems I've recently been having for a non-profit I'm volunteering at.

    I was wondering if you have any tips on what to use for the Name that you are supposed to enter?

    Since we are a volunteer organization, the people that use the iPads often come and go so it's not assigned to a particular person.

    Have you heard of any people running into trouble if we use our organization's name for the First Name and perhaps a number or something else for the Last Name?

  • Avatar
    Ben Greiner

    Hi Ken,

    Good question! I believe your naming idea will work. It's the email that is most important. Please let us know your results.

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