Sharing Address Book in iCloud
Apple’s abandonment of its MobileMe service in favour of the newly introduced iCloud has caused a few hiccups along the way. One of which has been losing the ability to share Address Book contacts easily between users with different iCloud accounts.
Before the recent change over to iCloud from MobileMe you could share your Address Book with another MobileMe user so that both of you could access the same Contacts list. This was done by “Subscribing to…” another MobileMe user’s Address Book. It was a simple process and worked well for me where I shared the Contacts within my Address Book with my husband. He was able to see my contacts within his Address Book on his iMac.
Although the “Subscribe to Address Book…” option still appears in the menu bar after the change to iCloud, you can only subscribe to a MobileMe member’s Address Book and not to an account that has been moved to iCloud.
In fact at first I could see no obvious simple way to share Contacts now that we have both moved our MobileMe accounts to iCloud.
Well, it turns out you can still share your contacts in Address Book between iCloud members, it just takes a different approach to achieve the same result.
An important note to bare in mind is that you will be sharing access to other parts of your iCloud account, so this really needs to be done only with someone you trust.
The best way for me to explain how to I did this is to describe how it works in my home.
Reason for sharing Address Book:
In my household I host the main Address Book on my iMac and I need this to sync to my laptop and iOS devices. My husband wants to share my Address Book on his iMac and for the contacts within my Address Book to sync to his iPhone.
Previously, in the MobileMe days:
Address Book was synced across my two Macs and iOS devices via MobileMe. Within his Address Book my husband subscribed to my Address Book on his iMac and the contents were then synced to his iPhone via his MobileMe account.
And now with iCloud:
it isn’t quite so simple, but it is possible, here’s how…
Both my husband’s and my MobileMe accounts have been converted to iCloud, all our Macs and iOS devices are running the latests operating systems, OS X 10.7 Lion and iOS 5 respectively.
On my iMac: The Address Book is now synced to my MacBook Air and my iOS devices via my iCloud account. That’s the simple part.
On my husband’s iMac: He has his own Address Book but, by default, no access to the contacts within my Address Book.
So, to enable my Address Book contacts to show up in his Address Book:
I open System Preferences on his iMac and go to “Mail, Contacts & Calendars” where I add a new iCloud account. I enter my Apple ID details to set up the new iCloud account on his computer.
This new iCloud account is recognised by his iMac as not being the primary iCloud account for his machine. It gives the options of selecting or deselecting access to “Mail & Notes”, “Contacts” and “Calendars” from my newly added iCloud account. On my husband’s iMac, all I want is “Contacts”, so I un-tick “Mail & Notes” and “Calendars” and make sure “Contacts” is ticked.
I then select his original primary iCloud account and un-tick “Contacts”, leaving the others ticked as required.
The contacts from my Address Book now show up in the Address Book on my husband’s iMac.
The next step is to get the Contacts from my Address Book onto his iPhone. This is achieved in a similar way, by adding my iCloud account details to his iPhone.
On his iPhone I go to Settings, and then into “Mail, Contact, Calendars”, and then to “Add Account…” , choose “iCloud” and I enter my Apple ID and Password.
He now has access to my iCloud account on his phone, but the only information from my iCloud account that I want on his iPhone is “Contacts” so I un-tick “Mail”, “Calendars” “Reminders” etc, just leaving “Contacts” as ticked.
He has read and write access to the shared Contact list and any changes he makes show up across all our Macs and iOS devices within minutes via iCloud syncing.
Both his and my Macs and iOS devices now share one Address Book.
For our particular setup this works well, however there may well be variations that others wish to explore. For example it would still be possible for my husband to keep his own Address Book and Contacts running in tandem with the shared data, just by keeping “Contacts” ticked within his own iCloud account on his iMac and iPhone.
Maybe one day Apple will give us a simpler way to share our Address Book, just like the old days.