Silly Apple Things

July 2nd, 2014

The other day, I read yet another story about a lingering Apple problem, the inability to merge that dreaded Apple ID with another in your household or business. Certainly the problems are obvious: Licensed content purchased under one Apple ID doesn’t work when you login with another. This is particularly true of movie downloads, since the Hollywood entertainment moguls insist that you cannot be trusted.

Certainly it makes the process of managing your apps and getting updates all the more complicated if some were purchased with different accounts.

The Apple ID problem is understandable. You set up a new Mac, iPhone or iPad, and you just cannot remember your login info. So you create a new account. After a few years, you have several. Or perhaps another family member sets up their own account, and soon it gets complicated.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve helped a friend or client in just this situation. The setup assistant requests the Apple ID, and I get a questioning look. Is  it written down somewhere? What Apple ID do you use on your other Apple gadget? In the end, they might find one of many, or just start from scratch with a new Apple ID, although I strongly recommend against it.

True, they could contact Apple and try to recover an older Apple ID, but that’s hit or miss.

Apple’s solution is no solution. You cannot merge the accounts and simplify your life. For me, I still have an Apple ID representing an email address I haven’t used in over a decade. I keep the domain and the address active for one reason: Apple.

Now in theory I can understand why Apple might have problems merging Apple IDs. It would require some sort of verification process to confirm you are the same person with multiple accounts, or that the other accounts are being used by another family member. I suppose this would include confirming credit card numbers, addresses and other information Apple uses to make sure you are who you say you are. But they haven’t asked for my social security number — at least not yet.

Regardless, a couple of years back, Tim Cook was quoted as saying that Apple was looking into a solution. Maybe they were sidetracked fixing Maps, or building the next versions of iOS, OS X or the first iWatch. I wouldn’t know for sure, but it’s a sure thing that the present scattershot method of managing your Apple account or accounts is not workable, not efficient, and only causes trouble for customers. Surely Apple can carve out some time to address this issue.

I also return to the way junk mail is handled by iCloud’s email system. As I reported this past weekend, it appears that more severe spam — or at least messages that hit a higher threshold for some unknown reason — never hit your Junk box. While that might seem a blessing if there aren’t false positives, how do you handle the mistakes? When messages from the company I use to register domains didn’t reach me, I contacted Apple for a solution. That’s when they revealed that they can actually add an address or domain to a whitelist for you.

While I did finally receive the messages from the domain registrar that got caught in this quarantine, I have no way of knowing just how many messages never reached my Inbox or any mailbox. I also do not now how many messages I’ve sent from that account didn’t arrive at their destinations. I know the Apple support person didn’t receive the responses I sent to his email address, so go figure.

At the very least, Apple ought to give customers access to the block lists impacting their accounts online, so they can make a final decision as to whether to release and whitelist a message. I’ve been able to do that with any of the email hosts I’ve used.

A third issue is whether or not Apple is about to ditch the traditional headphone jack, based on 19th century technology, and use Lighting instead. This is a story that’s been going around for a while, and while I suppose anything is possible, those who are taking this story seriously seem to forget the a serious contradiction.

So, what do you do when the lightning port is already occupied with another connector, say to a power source, or another outboard accessory? Do accessory makers have to provide a duplicate port to support your headphones? Is Apple really saving that much space getting rid of the headphone port? Really?

This doesn’t mean there are no advantages to choosing a digital over analog connection for some abstract purpose that will expand the usability of headphones. I suppose there could be products that might leverage Lightning’s exclusive features in ways that traditional analog jacks cannot support. Maybe.

Now you should know that Apple has never officially commented on expanded use of the Lightning port, or on any plan to remove an old fashioned jack that supports hundreds of millions of headphones, speakers and other accessories for your iOS gear.

Yes, it’s true that Apple does want to drive technology, and many complained when the 30-pin Dock connector was ditched in favor of Lightning. Some car makers still haven’t gotten the memo, and thus provide the older connectors rather than the new ones. Regardless, that move will clearly pave the way for newer generations of outboard gear despite the inconvenience. Besides, it won’t be too many years before older gear with older connectors isn’t being used very much. Remember when Apple killed floppy and optical drives. Yes, I know there is one legacy MacBook Pro with an optical drive, but its days are numbered.

One thing is sure: There will always be Apple decisions and changes to complain about. But this is a useful start.

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14 Responses to “Silly Apple Things”

  1. Paul says:

    “For me, I still have an Apple ID representing an email address I haven’t used in over a decade. I keep the domain and the address active for one reason: Apple.”

    This is more than fixable as I changed mine a couple of years ago so it wasn’t registered to my work email.

  2. Gunner says:

    I, for one, will be glad to see the earphone port disappear as it is a point of entry for moisture into an electronic device, along with speaker grills. Speakers (and microphones )have fairly much been ‘weather-proofed’ in electronics for awhile, but the mini-jack still has those tiny gaps. Great strides have been made toward ‘weather-proofing’ the receptacle, but why bother when the lightning port already is.

    The fewer ports of entry into an an electronics bay the more resistant to moisture the device will be. Apple has done well so far. Samsung even has adverts touting the resistance of the S5.

    Also keep in mind that the Lightning port is a two-way power port. Power can go in to keep the battery charged longer. Power can be taken for headphones, card swipers, etc…, swapping out as needed, as we do with the mini-jack right now. So what’s the diff?

    One port. More convenience. Two-way power. Less chance of moisture invasion. Sounds like a winner to me.

  3. jeff says:

    Log into your Apple ID at, and change the email address. The primary email address is essentially just a name used to refer to your account. You can change it and the account remains the same….all your content still works.

    • @jeff, Mostly works, but I still get stuff at the old address. More to the point, why can’t I change the actual ID to reflect the newer email addresses? Why can’t I merge all my accounts?


  4. John says:

    “More to the point, why can’t I change the actual ID to reflect the newer email addresses?”

    You can. I forget the exact procedure. Something like add a new email address, set it to your primary, delete the old email address. I remember puzzling over the same thing myself before realizing it is no puzzle at all, just do it, you’ll be able to use the new email.

    • Yes and no. Apple seems to feel I already have an Apple ID connected to the alternate email address, and thus won’t do it. Do I? Very likely, but I won’t kill it in case I have a purchased item associated with it. It’s not as simple as you think.


  5. John says:

    “Do I? Very likely, but I won’t kill it in case I have a purchased item associated with it.”

    Well why don’t you find out? Recover the password from that email address, login and find out what is there, if anything.

    In any case, if what you have in that account is so obscure you don’t even know what it is, why don’t you recover the password, move that account (if there is one) to some new random new gmail account, and then assign the account you really use to the email you really use.

    Or in any case, no need to “keep a whole domain” active, just for that. Assign it to a gmail domain.

  6. Keith says:

    @john, I have all my content purchased through my Apple ID that is my address. I wanted to change that to my Apple email and stop using gmail. Seems like a trivial problem as Apple allows you to change the email associated with an Apple ID as you mentioned. However, it does not work (confirmed by Apple support) because I “already have an Apple ID associated with that email address” that Apple apparently created for me back in the day when I was a Mobile Me paying customer. They have no solution, so I use two Apple IDs – one for purchased content (gmail) and one for all my iCloud connectivity. PITA

  7. John says:

    I’d imagine part of the problem is Apple and/or the content providers are afraid that there will spring up a market in selling off your apple id. If it was easy to combine them, then your apple id with its contents would be a marketable commodity.

  8. Jeff says:

    Content that was downloaded under the prior email address will sometimes still request the prior email. That part is truly a bug and very annoying. They are both the same apple id account, but the content is remembering the prior email. While not ideal, redownloading that content after you’ve changed your email will resolve the issue. In iTunes you can view all prior purchases under the purchased area of your account.

    As other readers have mentioned, the real mess is created by the users when they create alternate accounts. This is why you get the message that an email is in use by another apple id account. The only way to resolve that, because of security issues surrounding these accounts, is to gain access to that account by logging in or resetting the password, then removing that email from it. Or, create a new email address. In fact, did you know that with gmail addresses in particular, you can add a dot and it still routes to you but shows up to most systems, including Apple’s, as a new email address entirely? If my email is I could simply enter it as and I still get those emails. My Apple ID is happy with it.

  9. John says:

    Keith: “I use two Apple IDs – one for purchased content (gmail) and one for all my iCloud connectivity.”

    I should point out that it is a very good idea to use 2 apple IDs. The reason is, if you have a wife, girlfriend, family etc, and you want to share your content with them, then its good to have a separate ID for your content that you can give them. However just because you want to share your content with them, doesn’t exactly mean you want them reading your iCloud emails, and so forth.

    All Apple devices allow a separate ID for iTunes store purchases compared to iCloud login, so it isn’t really a difficulty.

  10. dfs says:

    Take away the headphone jack? Exactly how many Lightning earphones are available on the market? Maybe zero? Does Apple expect the entire headphone industry to retool its products to work with Lightning (thus making them impossible to use with anything other than Apple products)? And compel everyone in the industry to pay whatever Apple chooses to charge for a Lightning license? Ain’t going to happen, the industry would never cooperate with such impossible demands. What does seem somewhat more plausible would be for Apple to market mobile devices that worked only with Bluetooth equipment (I am using a pair of Bluetooth headphones right now and they work quite fine).

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