Does the iPad Support Multiple Users?

How much can you share your iPad?

Brother and sister sharing digital tablet

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Directly out of the box, the iPad has no easy way to switch between multiple users with different settings, configurations, and apps. The iPad is a single-user device, which means the central login is persistent. This login controls access to the App and iTunes Stores but doesn't save information like settings.

The single-user focus extends to apps like Safari, which keeps track of bookmarks and web history for all users rather than a specific user.

How to Set Up Your iPad for Multiple Users

While it is possible to log in and out of multiple Apple IDs on the same iPad, this solution won't work like creating different user profiles on a Mac or PC. A new Apple ID won't change the layout for the iPad. And downloading apps from multiple Apple IDs may cause some confusion when it comes time to upgrade to a new device.

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

  • One easy way to organize apps for multiple users is to create a folder on the first page of the Home Screen for each person. Sorting apps like this will make it much easier to find and use specific ones and keep from cluttering up the rest of the iPad.
  • Get used to using Spotlight Search to launch apps. Having multiple users on the same device means the iPad is much more likely to fill with apps, which may make it harder to find certain ones. Spotlight Search may be the easiest way to launch apps no matter how many people use the iPad.
  • Download separate email apps. The default Mail app is useful 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. Doing so will allow each user to keep track of their 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 account, but you must still remember to log out. Twitter allows extra 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. With Touch ID, each user can input their fingerprint and use that to unlock the iPad.

What About Childproofing the iPad and Still Using It?

Multiple people can use an iPad, but it becomes more complicated when some of the users are small children. It's easy enough to childproof an iPad to restrict the ability to download age-inappropriate apps, music, or movies, but those safeguards disable those features for parents as well.

Another problem parents run into is the iPad's insistence on resetting restrictions when you disable them. You'll need to double-check your settings are correct each time you re-enable them (i.e., when the kids want to use it again). It can be impractical if you have set up app restrictions but frequently need to disable them to download an app for yourself.

You can set time limits on types of programs, like games and streaming services. But it's not currently possible to lock individual apps to keep children out of them, short of deleting them altogether. 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?

You may get around some of these issues by jailbreaking the iPad, but this might introduce more problems than it solves. 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 ones designed to help those who want multiple accounts for their iPad.

Jailbreaking isn't an ideal solution for a parent wanting to share the iPad with their kids. But it could work for friends or family members who use multiple accounts. However, jailbreaking is only recommended for more advanced users.