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Friday, May 17, 2024

How to Share Your Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Spotify Accounts the Safe Way

You've no doubt signed up for a whole host of online accounts by now, for emailing, video streaming, shopping, file storage, budgeting, and more. Sometimes, you’ll want to share that account with someone else. Which is fine! Live your life. Just don’t share your password in the process, if you can help it.

Yes, that applies even to roommates or family members. If other people know your account password, they can effectively impersonate you, and change all the settings inside your account. And if you reuse that password elsewhere—which most people do—they can sneak into other accounts of yours.

Fortunately, there are better ways to share accounts without sharing passwords. Some services have that functionality built right in. For those that don’t, a new service called Jam lets you safely, securely, and easily share accounts with friends and family, much like a team of people.

Jam is invite-only for now don't necessarily have to wait for Jam to officially go live though, because you've got plenty of other options to weigh up.

Password Managers

Most password managers come with a password-sharing feature built right in. You specify the contacts you want to share a password with, and as long as they have the same password manager installed that you do, the software does all the necessary logging in without displaying the actual password itself.

It's convenient and safe, but you will have to pay a few dollars a month for a good password manager. Bear in mind that those dollars generally get you not just a strong password generator but secure storage for those passwords and more.

Whichever password manager you pick—here are WIRED’s favorites—the process is generally the same. The shared login credentials appear in both your app and the apps of the people you're sharing it with, though only you can see the actual alphanumerics.

As an added bonus, if you update the password, everyone else automatically gets the updated version too. Most password managers will show you who is actively using the passwords you've shared, and you can of course revoke permissions whenever you like.

Prices are typically just a few dollars a month, and we'd recommend paying for the software even if there's a free tier available. By doing so you'll get access to all the necessary features, across as many devices as you need, and help to support the development of the software too.

If you don't want to take the plunge with a password manager, the apps you're using often have some account sharing tools built into them. These options might be better than using a password manager to share passwords, depending on what your setup is.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Video works a little differently because it's part of a much bigger Amazon Prime account, and involves much more than streaming video. Amazon offers what it calls a Household package, where up to two adults and up to four kids can share the same Amazon Prime account.

The adults and the teens in your household can all have their own separate logins, even though they're sharing the same Prime Video access. Everyone in the household gets access to the same fast delivery, Amazon Photos, and Prime Reading benefits, plus various other resources, though areas like your watch history are kept separate.

With the separate logins in place, you don't have to share your password with your partner or your teenage kids, because they can all have their own. To get started, visit this page on Amazon, then choose Add Adult, Add a Teen, or Add a Child. An adult will have to log on anyone under the age of 13.

Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music

When it comes to the big music streaming services—including those from Spotify, Apple and Google—your best option for secure account sharing is likely to be a family plan. These work like the Amazon Household we just talked about, letting you specify a number of people to share your account without giving up your own login details.

Whichever your music service of choice, upgrade your account to a family plan, and you can then invite other people through the app. In the case of Spotify, you can have up to six users on the same plan for $15 a month, but they must all be living at the same address. Note that Spotify does take steps to police this.

In the case of Apple Music, the family plan—up to six people, $15 a month—is part of a broader Family Sharing feature that lets you share access to other services like Apple TV Plus. Family Sharing and all its associated features can be managed through the Apple ID page in __Settings __on iOS and iPadOS, or through System Preferences on macOS.

Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus

Unofficially, the big video streaming services appear to take a fairly relaxed attitude to sharing passwords, though they do restrict how many streams you can run simultaneously on multiple devices. (The limit is four on the top-tier Netflix package, for example.) Using these logins at a multitude of addresses might get you into trouble.

While there's no specific option for sharing your password with other people inside the apps, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus do let you set up different profiles inside the same account. On the Hulu web portal, for example, you can do this by selecting your avatar (top right) and choosing Manage Profiles. It's then easy to switch between accounts depending on who's watching.

You’re still going to have to set up the streaming app on every device using the same password, but it does at least mean multiple people—like you and your kids—can use the app without interfering with each others' recommendations.

Many other video streaming apps take a similar approach. They don't let you gift logins to other people without revealing your password, but they do let other people make use of the one account after you've logged in somewhere. Just make sure you check the small print when it comes to how many simultaneous streams are allowed, and how many devices they can be beamed to.

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