Save iCloud storage costs with Family Sharing


The more images and videos we capture and import, the easier it is to need a higher-capacity iCloud storage plan if we also use iCloud Photos for syncing. With Family Sharing, you can potentially save a modest to significant sum each year by pooling storage across two or more people.

iCloud storage comes in just four tiers: the free 5GB level available to all iCloud users, and then paid tiers of 50GB, 200GB, and 2TB, which cost $0.99, $2.99, and $9.99 per month in the United States.

Family Storage lets you pool 200GB and 2TB plans among the up to six members that can be in a Family Sharing group. (I have often wondered if Apple knows larger families.) While it’s pooled, access remains fully restricted to each member: you can’t see the files of other family members.

In a family of four each of whom is paying about $36 a year for 200GB of storage each, that’s $100 you’ve saved with the 2TB tier. But if you’re in the sweet spot between 200GB and 500GB on average and can all use a single 2TB pool, a family of four each with 2TB plans would save a whopping $360 a year. (Even shaving off the 50GB tier from three people saves $36 a year, which can go to movies and popcorn.)

mac911 icloud storage pool IDG

Apple shows you how much storage each member of Family Sharing is using, but you cannot view their files.

To enable Family Sharing, you can use Settings > account name > Set Up Family Sharing > Get Started in iOS and iPadOS. In macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, open the iCloud preference pane and click Set Up Family. In macOS 10.15 Catalina, open the Family Sharing pane.

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