Can You Install the Same App on Two iPhones for Free?

Yes, so long as they use the same Apple ID

No one wants to pay for the same thing twice if they can avoid it, even if it's just a $0.99 app. If you've got more than one iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you may wonder whether you can install apps bought from the App Store on all of your devices for free or if you need to buy the app for each device.

Woman using phone with illustrations of app icons flying out of the phone
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iPhone App Licensing: The Apple ID Is Key

I've got good news for you: iOS apps that you've bought or downloaded from the App Store can be used on every compatible iOS device you own — as long as they all use the same Apple ID, that is.

App purchases are made using your Apple ID (just like when you buy a song or movie or other content). The purchase grants your Apple ID the right to use that app. So, when you try to install or run that app, the iOS checks to see if the device you're running it on is logged into the Apple ID used to buy it originally. If it is, everything will work as expected.

Just make sure to log into the same Apple ID on all of your devices, and that the same Apple ID was used to buy all the apps, and you'll be fine.

Apps and Family Sharing

There's one exception to the rule about apps requiring the Apple ID that bought them: Family Sharing.

Family Sharing is a feature of iOS 7 and up that lets all the people in one family connect their Apple IDs and then share their iTunes and App Store purchases. With it, a parent can buy an app and let their kids add it to their devices without paying for it again.

Most apps are available in Family Sharing, but not all are. To check whether an app can be shared, go to its page in the App Store and look for the Family Sharing information in the Details section.

While apps, music, movies, and other content you buy from Apple can usually be shared using Family Sharing, in-app purchases and subscriptions aren't shared via Family Sharing. Those you do have to buy again.

Automatically Download Apps to Multiple Devices

One way to easily install apps on multiple devices is to turn on iOS's Automatic Download feature. With this, anytime you buy an app on one of your iOS devices, the app is automatically installed on other compatible devices. This uses data, so if you have a small data plan or like to keep an eye on your data usage, you may want to avoid this. Otherwise, follow these steps to turn on Automatic Downloads:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap iTunes & App Store.

  3. In the Automatic Downloads section, move the Apps slider to on/green.

  4. Repeat these steps on every device you want apps automatically added to.

Redownloading Apps from iCloud

Another easy way to get an app onto a device other than the one you bought it on is to redownload your purchases from iCloud. Every purchase you make at the iTunes and App Stores is stored in your iCloud account. It's like an automatic, cloud-based backup of your data that you can access whenever you want.

To redownload apps from iCloud, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the device you want to download the app onto is logged into the Apple ID used to buy the app originally.

  2. Tap the App Store app.

  3. Tap Updates.

  4. On iOS 11 and up, tap your photo in the top right corner. On earlier versions, skip this step.

  5. Tap Purchased.

  6. Tap Not on This iPhone to see all apps you've bought that aren't installed here. You can also swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the search bar.

  7. When you've found the app you want to install, tap the iCloud icon (the cloud with the down-arrow in it) to download and install it.

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