How to share your iPhone apps via Home Sharing

Sections: Apple Software, Features, How-To, iDevice Apps, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, iTunes, Mac Software, Originals

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Want to share an app with a family member without paying for another download? Apple allows you to do that simply and legally, as long as both computers are on the same network. This gets around the rather silly restriction of allowing an iPhone/iPod touch to only sync apps with one computer.

Home Sharing is an iTunes feature that Apple doesn’t make a lot of noise about, which is odd because it makes it simple to sync and transfer purchases between computers on the same network. Movies, TV shows, music, and yes, even apps can easily—and legally—be swapped between up to five computers, so if you’re in the living room and suddenly realize the song you want to hear is in the bedroom, or if you want to share an app with a family member who’s iPhone is synched to another computer, Home Sharing is the answer.

First, you need two computers on the same network with iTunes open. Then, if it’s not already active, go to Advanced > Turn on Home Sharing in the menu bar.

advanced menu turn on home sharing

Now, enter your iTunes account name and password. You want to enter the same account on both computers—now this is different than authorizing a computer to play the old protected AAC music files.

home sharing login screen

After both of them have been signed up, you’ll see the Shared menu in iTunes’ sidebar.

shared sidebar menu


From here, you can browse the audio, video, and apps on the other computer, but more importantly, you can now transfer the files. Just select the files you want and hit “Import.” Once the app is on the second computer, you can freely add it to any iPhone/iPod touch that syncs with that computer.

home sharing import

Even better, you can set up Home Sharing to automatically sync between the computers whenver they see each other, along with selecting what kind of file to look for.

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  • Jan gerling

    Does that also work for iPad apps?

  • Rio

    Does this mean the 'other' ipod/iphone having 2 authorized apps installed? Or simply change all authorized apps replaced by the new apps from shared iTunes?

  • Sara

    I have logged both computers on the network for home sharing and am not getting the shared menu. Can you tell me what might be wrong?

  • Sophia

    I have HomeSharing enabled on two computers, and I can easily transfer music and video files, but not app files. It is really frustrating for me not to be able to transfer applications as well. Would you offer any advice to fix this problem?

  • Jeremy

    my wife and I have a pair of iPhone 4 devices that we use one Apple ID account on (mine) so we only have to buy apps and such ONCE. However, iCloud is screwing this up now, hindering the usability of features it provides. I would like to make her own Apple ID, but then will she still be able use the apps we bought on MY Apple ID.

    Note, both of these phones are being synced off of just ONE computer.