Does the iPad Support Multiple Users?

Couple laying on bed looking at computer tablet

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There is no easy way to switch between multiple users with different settings, configurations, and apps with the iPad directly out of the box. The iPad is designed to be a single user device, which means the central login is stored in the iPad's settings. This login controls access to the app store and iTunes store but doesn't save information such as which icons to display on the device or where to display them. This extends to apps like Safari, which will keep track of bookmarks and web history for all users rather than a specific user.

How to Arrange Your iPad for Multiple Users

While it is possible to log in and out of multiple Apple IDs on the same iPad, this is impractical when it comes to actually using the iPad. A new Apple ID won't change the layout for the iPad, and downloading apps purchased from multiple Apple IDs may cause some confusion when it comes time to upgrade to a new iPad.

However, there are some tricks you can use to make the pain of sharing an iPad a little easier.

Screenshot of a folder on the iPad
  • One easy way to organize apps for multiple users is to create a folder on the first page of the Home Screen for each user. The folder should contain apps that are only used by that person. This will make it much easier to find and use specific apps and keep those from cluttering up the rest of the iPad.
  • Get used to using Spotlight Search to launch apps. Two users mean the iPad is much more likely to become filled with apps, which may make it harder to find certain apps. Spotlight Search is the easiest way to launch apps even with a single user and can be a must-have feature for more than one user. In fact, Spotlight Search may be the easiest way to launch apps no matter if the iPad is used by two people or just one.
  • Download separate email apps. The default Mail app is very good for managing multiple email accounts, but the default view will pull all email messages into a unified inbox. It can be easier to use specific email clients like the Yahoo or Gmail app for one user and the unified mailbox for the other user.
  • Use two different browsers. Safari is the default browser for the iPad, but you can also download Chrome or Firefox. This will allow each user to keep track of their own favorite bookmarks.
  • Facebook, Twitter, and other social media apps can be a little tricky. Facebook does support multiple profiles, and you can even set up a passcode for each profile, but you must still remember to log out unless you are comfortable with the other person reading your feed. Twitter allows multiple users but doesn't have a passcode. One alternative is for one person to use third-party apps for social media and the other to use the official apps.
  • Set up Touch ID if you have a compatible iPad. This is any iPad that is an iPad Air 2, Mini 3 or Pro or more recent than those models. With Touch ID, each user can input their fingerprint and use that to unlock the iPad. More Cool Uses for Touch ID.

What About Childproofing the iPad and Still Using It?

It's certainly possible for multiple people to use the iPad, but this becomes more difficult when the iPad is going to be used by small children. It's easy enough to childproof an iPad to restrict the ability to download age-inappropriate apps, the music of movies, but this disables those features for parents as well.

A mother plays with an iPad with her kids.
Getty Images/Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury

Another problem parents run into is the iPad's insistence on resetting restrictions when you disable them. This means you will need to double check your restrictions are correct each time you re-enable them. This can make it impractical if you have set up app restrictions but frequently need to disable them to download a grown-up app for yourself.

There is also no way to lock individual apps to keep your kiddo out of them. And if you want to lock down the Safari browser to disable certain websites, you'll need to live without them yourself as well.

Will Jailbreaking Solve the Problem?

We don't recommend jailbreaking an iPad. Downloading apps outside of Apple's ecosystem means the apps don't go through Apple's testing process, which means it is possible to download malware. However, apps can do a lot more to customize your experience on a jailbroken device, including apps designed to help those who want multiple accounts and experienced for their iPad.

This certainly isn't a good solution for a parent wanting to share the iPad with their kids but could be a good solution for friends or family members who want multiple accounts. Lifehacker has an excellent article on how to set this up. However, jailbreaking is only recommended for more advanced users.