How to share Apple iCloud storage with Family Share

Users with a 200GB or 2TB iCloud plan can share with up to five family members.

Joseph Kaminski Senior Associate Technology Editor / Reviews
When not juggling the dual demands of parenthood and playing basketball, Joseph is a life-long Manhattanite who can be found testing the latest tech in the CNET Labs and developing new benchmarks and testing methodologies.
Joseph Kaminski
2 min read
Joseph Kaminski

Real estate is always at a premium, so why should online real estate -- namely cloud storage -- be any different? Some people have roommates to make ends meet, and some of us need a family member with a large iCloud plan to accommodate all those selfies. Fortunately, Apple offers shared iCloud storage, with a few notable restrictions.

Before getting started, your Apple iOS device (iPhone, iPad or, yes, even iPod Touch) needs to be running iOS 11 or better. This is only necessary for the primary device that's sharing its iCloud account, however, Apple suggests updating all devices on the shared account to the latest OS for the best experience. 

MacOS devices (MacBook Pro/iMac/MacBook/Mac Mini) need to be running High Sierra 10.13 or better. Remember to always back up your devices before updating. If you need some help updating your OS, Apple has guides for iOS and MacOS.

Keep in mind that if a family member using more than 5GB of your storage space leaves the shared plan, they will have 28 days to purchase their own plan to secure their data, before reverting back to the default free 5GB plan.

While sharing a storage plan, documents and photos remain private, and everyone continues to use their own accounts within the shared iCloud storage. Family members are only sharing available cloud space, not personal data.

Dan Ackerman

How to set up iCloud Storage sharing on an iPhone or other iOS devices 

  • Go to Settings and at the very top, tap on your name
  • Select Set Up Family Sharing, followed by Get Started
  • Select iCloud Storage
  • If you don't already have one, update to a 200GB or 2TB plan
  • Once completed, you'll be prompted to invite five family members/loved ones to share your iCloud storage plan

How to set up iCloud Storage sharing on a Mac

  • Open system preferences, select iCloud
  • Then click Manage at the bottom right
  • If necessary, buy more storage (200GB or 2TB)
  • From iCloud preferences, select Set Up Family Follow the onscreen prompts
  • Once completed head to My Apps & Services, select iCloud Storage
  • Select Start Sharing

Family members who already have an iCloud subscription have to option to continue or join the family plan, they can't keep both active at the same time. If you get stuck setting up Family Sharing, Apple has detailed instructions here