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Apple ID to Be Renamed to Apple Account, Disrupting Independent Documentation

Apple buried this note at the end of a press release touting new features coming to Apple services later this year:

With the releases of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS Sequoia, and watchOS 11, Apple ID is renamed to Apple Account for a consistent sign-in experience across Apple services and devices, and relies on a user’s existing credentials.

Apple Account versus Apple ID feels like a distinction without a difference for most people, and I’m unaware of inconsistent usage on Apple’s part at the moment. The main awkwardness that remains is iCloud, which one might expect to have its own credentials but instead relies on your Apple ID.

Those who already understand what an Apple ID is probably won’t be confused by the change—the words are sufficiently similar. (Apparently, it’s not uncommon for consultants to work with people who have no idea what to enter when prompted for an Apple ID password, and changing the name to Apple Account won’t help that. Having separate passwords for Mac logins and Apple IDs also throws people.)

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell pointed out in a conversation that Apple ID and Apple Account aren’t precisely parallel, since an Apple ID was primarily an identifier—it’s an email address—whereas an Apple Account would have both a username and a password.

The real problem comes when tech writers document features across multiple versions of Apple’s operating systems. We’ll probably use both terms for a while before slowly standardizing on the new term. Blame Apple if you see awkward sentences like “Continuity features require that you be logged into the same Apple Account (Apple ID in pre-2024 operating systems).” Or maybe writers will compress further to “Continuity features require that you be logged into the same Apple Account/ID.”

Annoyingly, Apple’s own documentation efforts won’t suffer as much because the company publishes different versions of the same support article for each operating system version (see “Apple Launches Documentation Site for Manuals, Specs, and Downloads,” 25 March 2024).

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Comments About Apple ID to Be Renamed to Apple Account, Disrupting Independent Documentation

Notable Replies

  1. Good catch!

    I wonder if when talking about a ‘consistent sign-in experience’, Apple is referring to confusion amongst ordinary (non-techy) people. When helping people I often ask them if they’ve signed into their ‘Apple account’ because sometimes when I say ‘Apple ID’ I get a ‘huh’ in response. I only have anecdotes, but Apple presumably has data and maybe this has been an issue that comes up in Apple Store interactions. Because ‘Apple ID’ sounds like something specific, maybe people assume it’s something distinct from the account they’ve created for Apple/iCloud.

    Can I put in my vote for the TidBITS style guide when this comes to pass* – I actually think a mix of the two approaches you’ve suggested sounds best:

    Continuity features require that you be logged into the same Apple Account or Apple ID.

    I don’t think the ‘in pre-2024 operating systems’ caveat is necessary, it’s clear enough without. And I think that looks cleaner and matches what people see better than ‘Apple Account/ID’.

    * I am fully aware that TidBITS is a benevolent dictatorship and my vote is meaningless. :wink:

  2. My 2 cents…

    “Continuity features require that you be logged into the same Apple Account (previously known as Apple ID).”

  3. Both good suggestions!

    I’ve just updated the article slightly with a comment from @joe about how Apple ID is an identifier whereas Apple Account is (presumably) the entire account, which has both an identifier (the username) and a password. You have an Apple ID password, but your Apple ID is an email address, not a password.

  4. Adds to the confusion/nuisance of Apple IDs going from xxx to xxx@mac to xxx@me to xxx@icloud !

  5. Those are only a subset of Apple IDs. My Apple ID is none of those.

  6. That’s how your Apple mail address has changed. But you can use any e-mail address for an Apple ID. And in the past, you could use names other than e-mail addresses as well, but at some point, Apple forced me to change that in order to keep using it. :frowning:

  7. You know, all this time, I never realized this (simply because the ID is also associated with a password).

  8. So often I’ve had complications with a customer’s Apple ID - for when they first signed up with Apple they used something like “[email protected]” as the ID string. Subsequent tries to authorize their ID got conflated with their real hotmail address -not realizing the id was a user name not an email address (confusing !) and got locked out continuously. I wish Apple provided better solutions for Apple ID problems. I recently ran into a problem where Apple wouldn’t verify a (long term .mac address user) Apple ID because it conflicted with some other “user name” - that they had assigned a address - this cropped up in the last year- the user didn’t have a problem until something changed with address servers - Apple refused to let go of this other assigned “me” address or add it to the good one, or give us a clue as to what they thoughthe Apple ID was -even though they admitted it was an error - and there were Apple cloud services issues and verification failures - Apple’s solution: create a new Apple ID (oops Account!) for the user…then I suspect something happened on Apple’s end because the “data clog” (things like contacts were really slow (days!) to update, some services timed out) and verification notices went away mysteriously.(icloud generates an error) Still- Apple did not openly resolve this issue nor follow through with support or information for it… even though during a screen share - the problems were documented (bomgar not apple screen share because that didn’t work either!) and Apple closed the ticket as well. Weird. It’s one area where they can do better.

  9. I wonder if Apple will ever figure out how to merge two Apple ID, err Accounts? I have two that, because Apple can’t figure this out, I have to maintain. The first was the one I had to create using my AOL email when iTunes was released while the second was created when I joined Dot Mac. Currently, I would either lose EVERYTHING I bought from ITunes over the last 23 years with the former, or everything linked to the latter: email, ALL my Apple hardware, etc, over the last 22 years. It continues to baffle me as to why Apple hasn’t figured this out yet. Of course if there was a way to make a profit doing so, they would jump on it right away! :laughing:

  10. This is strange, because it was always my understanding that a dotMac address was always assigned the same MobileMe and iCloud dot com address, similar to a MobileMe address getting the same iCloud dot com address. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone say that something like that happened. (In other words, when Apple changed from dotMac to MobileMe, the left hand side of the “@” was automatically the same me dot com address, and when Apple changed from MobileMe to iCloud dot com, the left hand side of the me dot com address was automatically the same with iCloud dot com after it. (But never the reverse; a new iCloud dot com cannot use me dot com or Mac dot com.)

    (I wrote out me dot com and iCloud dot com because discourse helpfully tries to make them hyperlinks. by the way.)

  11. When Apple discontinued Dot Mac, and replaced it with MobileMe, they assigned me a address using the same username as my address. Ditto when MobleMe was discontinued and replaced with iClod, I was given a address, again with the same username. So I have THREE email addresses, two of which I do not use or want. I suspect when they discontinue the current iteration and replace it with an Apple Intelligence one, I’ll get another UNWANTED email address at!

  12. It was indeed bizarre but Apple insisted they couldn’t fix this. Since my customer mostly uses google cloud services - it’s not a big deal for him but some stuff just doesn’t work and gives us an unexected error notice. Apple Support saw this and witnessed this - but left us on a dead end street. I have many customers who log in with Appleids that originally were “soandso at isp dot com”.

  13. I have same issue because “in the beginning” an Apple ID/logon wasn’t an email address at all — and you can’t merge accounts!

  14. Coming from a UNIX background, it was always practice to have a handle for your Administrator account and a different handle for your user accounts. I followed this practice when Apple wanted me to have an Apple ID. Apple ID insisted on using my full name in the address. But for security reasons, I set up my user email address that did not have my full name.

    Since then Apple has caused frustration on occasions I need to enter my Apple ID - for some things Apple wants my ‘administrator’ email address and for some things Apple wants my abridged user email address. On rare occasions, the successful Apple ID has been my old email address. I’ve given up attempting to figure what is behind this inconsistency.

    Given the history of Apple ID, I foresee Apple Account introduction just adding more Apple ID issues for Apple customers.

  15. We can now look at multiple high resolution monitors in virtual reality, but Apple can’t give us a way to merge Apple IDs/Accounts.

    Why? Because the former makes them money, the latter does not.

  16. I noted in another reply that this is…at least anecdotally…possible. There was a case that I believe I saw here but it might have been elsewhere…and the user had ended up with 2 AppleiDs and somehow Apple was to blame for the problem…so they merged the accounts after verifying somehow that he/she owned both. Since Apple universally denies it is possible…mynguess is that it is only possible manually and the impossibility was demanded by either their lawyers or was a result of not wanting to have to do a flood of manual merges.

  17. I would love to get rid of my me dot com and icloud dot com email addresses. For some reason my mac dot com address (which I only use with Apple) has flown under the radar, while the other two (which I’ve never used for anything) get tons of spam. I really hope they don’t give us another one.

  18. Can you find non-anecdotal confirmation of this claim? As far as I’m aware, it has always been impossible to merge Apple IDs. This isn’t a new topic—we were proud of the fact that we built a system for Take Control that allowed us to merge accounts in the early 2000s because neither Apple nor Google had ever allowed it.

    Obviously, for a company with Apple’s technical chops, merging Apple IDs is technically conceivable. But it’s a barrel of worms, which is likely why the company has refused to do it. Issues include:

    • Purchased content
    • Personal data (email, contacts, photos, etc)
    • Financial data (Apple Pay, Apple Card, etc)
    • Security data (“Sign in with Apple”, app-specific passwords, etc)

    If you have tens of millions of customers, how do you confirm in a staffing-reasonable way that every request to merge accounts is legitimate? How do you guarantee that no scammer can take over an Apple ID? (That will be a constant attack vector.) What about people wanting to merge a deceased spouse’s account with theirs? And children who disagree about whose account should be merged with their deceased parents’ accounts?

    And that’s all before you get into Apple’s legal role in licensing content for others, managing financial accounts, serving as a security guarantor with single-sign-on, and so on. It would open Apple up to significant liability.

    I don’t like it any more than anyone else—I have at least three Apple IDs—but Apple is never going to allow it for entirely explicable reasons.

  19. Nope…can’t remember where I read it…it was a year or more ago as I recall. This is the primary Apple oriented mailing list I am on so I thought it was here vice on some web page someplace…but then you would know about it if it was here so maybe not. Don’t remember any of the specific details but my recollection is that the user somehow ended up with more than one ID and Apple had screwed up somehow to cause the problem…and since it was their screwup they fixed it.

    I agree though…unless they have a really good security process for allowing this to happen I’m sure it’s a lawyer thing and not a technology thing that results in their refusal to do it…but dressed up as ‘impossible’ rather than ‘we won’t do it’.

    I kinda agree with them that it opens them up to a whole lot of liability…but then again I kinda agree that they could invent a process that was secure enough to eliminate the possibility of getting into the liability situation…but that process would have to be human involved rather than completely automated and there is a lot of room when humans are involved to either accidentally or deliberately for some sort of profit motive…to screw up the process. Overall…while I don’t like it…I think the liability concerns outweighed any common sense or we ought to be able to do this sort of situation.

    Thinking about it a bit though…when one starts a Family group the other individuals get an email from Apple IIRC asking them if they want to join the group. Noodling on this…maybe one can invite the other AppleID to a family group, then on the email account there accept the invitation and thus sorta combine the IDs, at least for Family Sharing authorized apps which is mostly the reason I think people want to merge IDs as personal data can be exported/imported relatively simply for the most part.

    Sorry I’m no help.

  20. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for consultants to work with people who have no idea what to enter when prompted for an Apple ID password, and changing the name to Apple Account won’t help that. Having separate passwords for Mac logins and Apple IDs also throws people.

    A good percentage of my Mac consultant work has to do with people who have messed up their Apple ID as a result of this confusion. I totally blame Apple for this. When presented with a dialog box asking for a password it doesn’t specify which it wants, or at least not always. If your Mac account username is different from your AppleID username, you can deduce which password is wanted—IF you’re paying close attention to the text in the dialogue box. Hell, even I get confused sometimes.

    As for the new name—Apple has a long rich history of horrible naming decisions. As it is I spend a lot of time explaining to people that AppleID = iCloud = iTunes = Apple Store (and ≠ Mac account login), so the new “Apple Account” will be an improvement, but not until the current living generations of Apple users shuffle off this mortal coil.

    A suggestion for those who write documentation: always refer to it as “Apple Account (AppleID/iCloud/iTunes/Apple Store)”. Only partly tongue-in-cheek.

  21. I was at the original MacWorld San Francisco where iTools was first announced (2000), and I signed up on the spot for my email address. So now I have the same one with functioning and variations, all of which can be used to log in to my AppleID account, as well as my previous non-Apple email address which was my first username for…maybe eWorld? I can’t even remember now.

    (Raise your hand if you’re old enough to remember eWorld!)

    It’s confusing that people who sign up these days get but not the predecessors and I guess people like me are grandfathered for the sake of backward compatibility. The history is actually pretty complicated, as I was reminded by this article.

  22. Although @mac and @me emails still work instead of @icloud (in effect they are aliases) that is not the case with my sign-in for Apple Discussions or some early iTunes and App purchases. I no longer have access to them with my old or the latest passwords.

    Apple Support has not been supportive!

  23. As I understand it, they work as email aliases and for logging in to AppleID, but I’m unsurprised they don’t work for other things that might view the username as a text string and not an identifiable email address.

  24. You’re not alone, @neil1 . I had the same recollection, and I thought it was in this thread, actually. However, I can’t find it now, either in this thread or any other. :frowning_face:

  25. At least I know I’m not going nuts…well, I might be but at least I don’t remember things that never happened…or at least most of the time. I simply refuse to believe it’s not technically possible to merge them…but I can understand that legal might have convinced them it’s a bad idea with too much potential liability so that they didn’t develop the automated tools and thus they can be like lawyers or politicians and redefine what the word impossible means. My remembering of it was from awhile back…and since Adam asked me if I had any non anecdotal evidence I guess he already looked in the archives for it.

  26. This sounds a very reasonable way to consider it - not unlike an email address (identifier) vs an email account (the service).

    The more I think of Apple ID/Accounts and the .mac, .me and .icloud variants - not counting the multiple accounts I have - the more I realise what a total mess (and ongoing legacy maintenance) Apple has created for themselves.

  27. I don’t see the point in this change. In my opinion (based on my experience as an independent Apple consultant for 30 years), this will only cause further confusion. “Apple ID” is a very specific term, connected with Apple for more than a decade, that at least triggers a “Apple ID sounds familiar” response from clients most of the time. The very generic term Apple Account will not ring bells in the same way, in my estimation. But, regardless, users will still continue to be clueless about what their Apple Account/ID login info is anyways. First of all, most of them don’t know what the username is exactly (because half of users have no record of their user name, and must refer to the icloud panel in their devices to find out what it is). And, second of all, a huge percentage of users don’t know precisely what their current Apple account password is (Just as was mentioned in the article). I waste a huge portion of my life waiting for people to remember or find their passwords. (And don’t say the words password manager. With the vast majority of users that’s a fruitless pursuit. And I put a lot of blame on Apple for taking 20+ years to come up with a Password manager of their own!)

  28. In my password manager I have the AppleID and password of all our senior management - and their wives. As the ‘IT Guy’ I was asked to set up their devices as it became clear most of them weren’t capable of creating a memorable ID/password or smart enough to write them down.

    The very worst situation is when they try to resolve a problem, end up resetting their password (which they immediately forget) and then nobody knows the credentials and the account gets locked.

    We have people who have worked here ten years and don’t know the difference between logging into a machine, mounting a server or logging into their email. It’s not they haven’t been told, it’s they have no interest and don’t care.

  29. Apple has had a password manager since before the first edition of Mac OS X. That’s several years before most of the third-party password managers many people use. (According to Wikipedia, 1Password was first released in 2006; Keychain in 1999, for Mac OS 8.6.)

    Keychain might be criticized for not having as nice a user interface as some of the others – that might be a valid complaint – but it is not accurate to say that they took 20 years to come up with one.

    I have used Keychain almost all that time. It has improved slowly and steadily. I used 1Password in parallel for a while, but when 1P v7 came out, Keychain wass good enough for my purposes that I saw no reason to upgrade 1P.

  30. For most users, the Mac OS Keychain has always been inscrutable. And I would disagree about it seeing any improvements. And because it contains a lot more than passwords (such as certificates), I have not encouraged users to use the Keychain app. It’s entirely possible for someone to cause system trouble making changes in the Keychain.

    And then when Apple did make a more user-friendly interface to the stored passwords, it was only accessible in Safari, and took several steps to access. Still not a user-friendly solution. Only now, more than 20 years into OSX, is Apple finally providing users with a user-friendly solution.

    And @trilo, Like you I am tasked with keeping the credentials for users safely stored. It’s the only way to keep my sanity with users that I support on an ongoing basis. Sadly, this means I am their password manager. But it’s better that, than nobody knowing their password.

    But, by the combination of Passkeys, and Apple finally giving us a user-friendly password manager app, we might be on the way to our users being more self-sufficient with their credentials. Might be. Maybe. Possibly. :)

  31. Exactly! I try to drum into my clients that when it comes to your AppleID password, DON’T FLAIL. Look it up.

    Most of my clients have agreed to let me keep their AppleID information in my password manager so they can call me if they forget it.

  32. Really? I’ve managed to not hear about this.

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