How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests

How to Share HomeKit Access with Family, Roommates, and Guests

What’s the point of having the house of the future if your family members, roommates, or guests can’t take advantage of all its features? Share the future-is-now vibe by allowing their iCloud account to control your smart lights, thermostat, and more.

Why Would I Want To Do This?

HomeKit is the framework that links together all of the diverse HomeKit accessories in the growing stable of Apple-approved smarthome products. If you’ve upgraded parts of your home to take advantage of HomeKit-enabled accessories like smart bulbs, a smart thermostat, smart locks, or the like, then it’s only natural you’d want family members, roommates, or guests to get full use out of them too.

By default, however, the only person who can control all the HomeKit accessories is the person who set the system up; the administrative control is linked to their iCloud login. As such, if you want to grant access to anyone else in your home, you’ll need to invite them and authorize their iCloud account. The process of both adding and removing guest users is, thankfully, quite simple if you know where to look.

Once you’ve authorized their iCloud account they can use apps and Siri to control your home’s smart devices just like you can, issuing commands like “Hey Siri, set the thermostat to 72 degrees.”, “Set the scene to movie night”, or any other commands your accessories support.

What You’ll Need

Before we jump into the actual setup process, take a moment to ensure that you have everything ready to go. You’ll need at least one installed and configured HomeKit accessory (if you’re in the shopping mood, we can’t say enough good things about the new HomeKit-compatible Philips Hue system).

Other than that, you’ll need the iCloud ID of the person you wish to add, and they’ll need an iPhone or iPad running iOS 9.0 or higher, as well as copies of all the relevant apps used to control your HomeKit accessories. We’ll touch on that more in the section “How Guests Can Use Your HomeKit House”.

Finally, the only real hiccup you’re likely to run into is if you’ve accidentally set someone else up as the administrator (e.g. you set up your HomeKit gear on your kid’s iPad and now it is linked to their iCloud account). In such instances you’ll need to reset your HomeKit configuration so you’re the administrator.

How to Add Someone to Your HomeKit House

Once you’ve checked off the list in the previous section and you’re ready to go, adding someone to your HomeKit system is easy peasy. For the sake of brevity and clarity from this point forward we’ll refer to any person you are adding to your HomeKit system as a guest user.
Sending the Invitation

Grab an iOS device logged into the HomeKit administrator’s iCloud account and navigate to Settings. Scroll down until you see the entry for HomeKit. Select HomeKit to access your list of homes.

Select the home entry you wish to share with your guests.

In the sub-menu for the specific home you’ll find two entries: Allow Remote Access and Invite People. Note that even though Allow Remote Access is toggled on in our screenshot this is not a requirement for sharing HomeKit access among guests but simply the configuration of our HomeKit system. (Check out our tutorial on HomeKit remote access for more information if you’re interested in controlling your HomeKit accessories while away from home.)

To proceed, tap on Invite People.

In the next menu, simply enter the email address that serves as the iCloud ID of the guest you wish to add to you HomeKit home. Tap the “Add” button to send the invite.
Accepting the Invitation

On the opposite end of things, your guest should immediately receive an invitation to the HomeKit system. They’ll see a notification bar popup like the one below which they can click on to confirm the invititation.

Even if they miss the notification they can navigate to Settings > HomeKit and select “Accept” to join your HomeKit home.

At this point the guest has access to all of the HomeKit accessories you do and can begin using them.

How Guests Can Use Your HomeKit House

So your guest has accepted your invitation, but your work is probably not done. Your guests need to use the HomeKit system the exact same way that you do. HomeKit is simply a framework that binds all the accessories together–it is not the way the user directly controls the system. If you are using the Philips Hue light system, for example, you can say “Hey Siri, turn the lights off”. Siri understands that command not because your HomeKit system has learned the command but because the Philips Hue app on your phone gives Siri the ability to understand the command.

Thus, even if you add your spouse’s iCloud account as a guest HomeKit user your spouse cannot automatically say “Hey Siri, turn the lights off” unless you have configured their iPhone with the same apps, with the same HomeKit rooms, zones, and scenes.

So, you (or your guest) must now set up the apps on each of their devices to give them whatever control you want them to have. For example, if you want everyone in your household to have control of the smart lights, you need to install the app on all their devices. If you want just you and your spouse (but not your children) to have HomeKit control of the thermostat and locks, then install the control apps for those devices only on your devices.
How to Remove Guests from Your HomeKit Home

In most cases, such as granting access to a spouse or child, you likely won’t ever need to revoke someone’s access. In the case of a roommate moving out or a house guest heading home after a long stay, however, you’ll want to remove access so they can no longer control your HomeKit system. This step is extra important if you have remote access enabled for your HomeKit system as the guest user could accidentally trigger HomeKit commands from afar.

To revoke guest access, navigate back to the Settings > HomeKit menu and select the home in question (we’re repeating the exact same steps you used to invite the guest).

There you can see who you have invited to the home as well as remove them. To remove an entry from the list tap on the “Edit” button in the upper right corner of your home entry. This will switch the list to editing mode. Tap on the red icon beside the name of the guest you wish to remove.

Select “Delete” to remove the entry.

As an alternative method, you can also tap on the name of the user which will pull up their detailed contact information and select “Stop Sharing” from the contact entry but we find it easiest (especially if removing more than one user at once) to use the main screen as detailed in the screenshots above.

That’s all there is to it: with trip into the HomeKit settings and some basic application setup on your guest’s iOS device you can share your awesome home-of-the-future gear with everyone in your household.

Invite people to control your home, edit permissions for them, and allow them to control your home from anywhere — all with the Home app.

How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests

Invite someone to control your home

  1. Open the Home app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. Tap or click Home , then select Home Settings. If you have multiple homes set up, choose the Home that you want to invite someone to, then select Home Settings.
  2. Tap or click Invite People.
    How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests
  3. Enter the person’s Apple ID that they use with iCloud.
  4. Tap or click Send Invite.

Accept an invitation to control a home

  1. Open the Home app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. Tap or click Home .
  2. Select Home Settings.
  3. Tap or click Accept, then Done.
    How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests

After you accept the invite, tap or click Home , then select the name of the Home to control it.

Allow remote access and edit permissions for users

If you set up a home hub, you can manage remote access and edit permissions for people that you invite to control your home. If you don’t have a home hub set up, they can only control your accessories while they’re at your home, connected to your home Wi-Fi network, and within range of your HomeKit accessories.

To manage remote access and change permissions for a user, open the Home app and follow these steps.

  1. Tap or click Home , then select Home Settings. If you have multiple homes, choose a home, then select Home Settings.
  2. Under People, select the person that you want to edit permissions for, then choose the following:
    • Control Accessories Remotely: Turn on to allow users to control your accessories from any location. Turn off to allow users to only control your accessories while they’re at your home.
    • Add and Edit Accessories: Turn on to allow users to add and remove accessories, scenes, automations, and other users.
  3. Tap or click Back, then Done.

Shared users can’t add HomePod, Apple TV, or any AirPlay 2-compatible smart TVs or speakers to the Home app. You can only add these devices if you’re the owner of the home in the Home app.

Stop sharing your home with someone

  1. Tap or click Home , then select Home Settings. If you have multiple homes, choose a home, then select Home Settings.
  2. Under People, tap or click the user that you want to remove from your home. Tap or click Remove Person.

Leave a home you were invited to share

  1. Tap or click Home , then select Home Settings. If you’re a member of multiple homes, choose the home that you want to leave, then select Home Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap or click Leave Home. Tap or click Leave.

If you remove someone from the Home app, they might still be able to control any accessories if they had permissions to do so in a separate app for that accessory. To remove those permissions, use the accessory’s app, check its manual, or contact the manufacturer.

If you can’t share control of a home

  • You and the people you invite need an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch updated to the latest version of iOS or iPadOS or a Mac updated to the latest version of macOS.
  • Make sure that you and the people you invite are signed into iCloud on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. In iCloud settings, turn on Home.
  • To invite people to control your home while you’re away and edit permissions for them, you need to set up a HomePod, Apple TV, or iPad as a home hub.* If you don’t have a home hub set up, you can only invite people when you’re home and connected to your home Wi-Fi network.

*HomePod and Apple TV aren’t available in all countries and regions.

If you share your home with family or roommates, it often makes sense to share access to HomeKit devices with them so they can control your connected lights, blinds, thermostats, etc. As long as they use an iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 or later or a Mac running macOS Mojave or later, Apple makes it easy for you to grant them access via their iCloud account.

  1. On an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌, open the Home app and tap on the small home icon in the top left corner.
  2. In the People section, tap on Invite.
  3. Enter the ‌iCloud‌ email address of the person you want to invite, or tap on the “+” sign to find someone in your contact list.
  4. Tap Send Invite.

How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests
This process is nearly identical on a Mac, though you access the People list via the Edit/Edit Home menu.

The recipient will be notified of the invitation and will be invited to accept. Here’s what it looks like to them:

Once they’ve accepted, they’ll appear in your People list. Tapping on their name will reveal an additional screen where you can toggle Remote Access on or off. Remote Access lets them control your ‌HomeKit‌ devices when they’re away and not on your home Wi-Fi network. If you have a home hub, they can even control accessories by voice with Siri. If you don’t have a home hub, they’ll need to make any changes manually within the Home app.

Toggling Allow Editing would provide them with more control over your ‌HomeKit‌ setup, allowing them to add and remove accessories or even invite other people to control devices.

If you need to delete someone from your People list, you just need to tap on Remove Person at the bottom of this screen to revoke their access to your ‌HomeKit‌ setup.

After almost two years of development and behind-the-scenes work from manufacturers, Apple’s HomeKit framework is at last starting to pick up some steam: You can buy lights, thermostats, smart locks, door sensors, and more for your home that are HomeKit-compatible. Once you start to outfit your home with futuristic devices, however, it’s likely you’ll want to give your fellow housemates access. (I mean, unless you want to be pestered every time they need the lights turned on or off.) Here’s how to go about doing that.

How HomeKit and multiple users works

By default, when you first create a HomeKit house, it’s tied to your Apple ID. No one else can manage that HomeKit house except for you (or people with access to your account), for security reasons. You can even create multiple homes in this manner if you have them to manage (say a vacation home with Hue lights, for example).

But you don’t have to be the only one with Siri control over your house—you can grant accessories access to anyone with an Apple ID. You just have to add them to HomeKit first.

You can belong to multiple HomeKit houses in this manner: You might have management control over House A (your own house) and House B (a vacation home), and have accessories access to House C (your parents’ house) and House D (your sibling’s house).

How to add another person to your HomeKit house

Adding a current member of your household or guest is as simple as knowing their Apple ID and having them accept a banner prompt. Here’s how to go about doing it. Note: You’ll need iOS 9 or later to begin this process, and need to have already set up a HomeKit house. (Haven’t set up a HomeKit house yet? You can do that here: How to set up your HomeKit accessories.)

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down to the HomeKit option and select it.
  3. Tap on your home.
  4. Tap Invite People.

  • Enter the iCloud address of the person you wish to add to your home.
  • On their device, press the Accept button on the banner (or have them go to Settings > HomeKit if they miss the banner).
  • How to remove that person from your house

    If your guest’s tenure has ended, you’re not going to want to give them indefinite access to your home. Here’s how to remove someone’s HomeKit access from your accessories.

    1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
    2. Scroll down to the HomeKit option and select it.
    3. Tap on your home.

  • Swipe left on the person’s name.
  • Tap Delete.
  • How to control a HomeKit guest house

    As a guest user, you have almost all the HomeKit controls of an administrator: You can request light changes or thermostat readings from Siri, view the house in an app like Elgato’s Eve or Home, and change toggles and switches within it. Any rooms, zones, and scenes the home owner has set up will be available for you, though you won’t have access to their triggers (time- or event-based scene actions).

    You can’t rename items or delete them from the house, however nor can you add new accessories or delete the house itself.

    Can’t add guests to HomeKit? Here’s our fix

    HomeKit is still in its infancy, and unfortunately that means bugs and errors. There’s unfortunately no fool-proof way to fix them, but here’s what I’ve found works with the two major issues I’ve seen with adding guests to HomeKit.

    The first is the never-ending “Invited” status, even after your guest has accepted your HomeKit invite. Most times I’ve seen this situation, it ends up being a server delay, and the accepted invite will go through after a period of time. If you’re getting impatient, try deleting the invite and re-inviting them; if that doesn’t work, logging out and back in to iCloud seems to solve most issues.

    The second problem—the invite never showing up on the recipient’s device—is usually one of two reasons: Either there’s a typo in the invite address, or wires got crossed in the mysterious vapor that is iCloud and the invite’s just not showing up. Like the first problem, deleting and re-inviting your guest solves the problem 90 percent of the time; if you’re still not seeing results, try logging them out and back into iCloud.

    Worst case, you’ll need to reset your HomeKit configuration. Here’s how to do that:


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    How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests

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    AirPlay is Apple’s feature for casting or screen mirroring content from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to a TV. You can use AirPlay on Apple TV set-top boxes or compatible smart TVs like Samsung or LG. However, one frustration many people run into is that by default anyone nearby can connect to AirPlay. If you live in a dense area like an apartment block, this can be very annoying.

    The default AirPlay options let anyone that is in Wi-Fi range see your Apple TV and try to AirPlay to it. If you are just trying to sit back and enjoy some TV, at the very least it is annoying for that to be interrupted by AirPlay connection dialogs.

    You can stop this from happening in the Apple TV Settings app.

    How to stop anyone from AirPlaying to my Apple TV?

    This means that the AirPlay option will only appear for people whose devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV itself, preventing people in adjacent houses from being able to connect. This will prevent those annoying PIN code request pop-ups from showing as well.

    Of course, this also means that any guests that come and visit will also need to be on the Wi-Fi to AirPlay. A more restrictive option will be available if you have configured HomeKit on your Apple TV: the setting ‘Only People Sharing This Home’ means that AirPlay is only available to people that are nearby and set up as user profiles in the Home app. This might be useful if you don’t want guests to be able to use AirPlay but do want to let them on the Wi-Fi.

    These settings apply to all Apple TVs and HomeKit speakers in your home. You can customize on a per-device basis on the Apple TV if the setting ‘Allow Nearby to AirPlay’ is visible on your screen. This setting should be set to off if you don’t want anyone else trying to connect. (This paragraph is only relevant to you if your Apple TV is connected to HomeKit.)

    For additional protection, you can also require AirPlay device requests to need to enter a password.

    FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

    The HomePod’s settings need a bit of tweaking.

    Apple’s HomePod ($300 at Target) doesn’t offer a lot in the way of settings and ability to customize how it works, but there are a few things you should be aware of.

    If you’re just getting started with your HomePod, be sure to check out how to set it up !

    Listening History

    Using the HomePod as an on-demand DJ in a shared living space is convenient for everyone involved. But there could be a problem if your family members or roommates don’t share your taste in music. You don’t want a bunch of random music you’d never listen to showing up in your Apple Music listening history and messing up your personalized playlists.

    Thankfully, you can stop the HomePod listening history from altering your personal mixes.

    Open the Home app, long-press on the HomePod, then select Details. On the details screen, turn the switch next to Use listening history to the Off position.

    Know when Siri is listening

    Depending on where you place your HomePod, being able to see the lights on top of the speaker whenever you use the “Hey Siri” command isn’t always possible.

    Apple has included an option for the HomePod to play a sound whenever it’s been activated, letting you know it heard the wake phrase and is listening for your next command.

    Open the Home app, long-press on the HomePod, then select Details. On the details screen, turn the switch next to Sound when using Siri to the On position. The next time you trigger Siri on the HomePod a small tone will play.

    Personal Requests

    One of the more interesting features of the HomePod is the ability to have Siri read or send messages on your behalf, create reminds, and pen new notes using your iCloud account. Personal Requests, as it’s called, only work when your iPhone ($317 at Amazon) is on the same Wi-Fi network as the HomePod, eliminating some potential of people snooping on your private conversations.

    However, if you’d prefer the added peace of mind, you can completely disable Personal Requests.

    Open the Home app, and tap on the Location icon in the top left corner. Select your profile picture or name under the People section, then tap Personal Requests. You can now turn Personal Requests off.

    How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests

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    Home automation with HomeKit is great for the homeowner, but not as good for guests or visitors. Here’s how to give a house guest control of all your HomeKit devices — and how to lock them out again when they leave.

    Sometimes it does seem as if the Home app were built to be used by one person. And it’s highly possible that Apple has noticed how there tends to be just one person interested in any family.

    But automating your home is meant to have benefits for everyone in the household, so giving each person the ability to control the lights is key. Being able to quickly and easily share your home devices is essential.

    You can share this access whetheryou have finally persuaded your partner to give it a go, or if your kids are now old enough too, or even if you just you have a guest coming. There are ways around it if, for instance, you just want that guest to be able to open the front door.

    Yet there are times when you want them to have all the access you do. In which case, you have to invite them to control your home, and they have to accept the invitation.

    And do you do have to have set some things up in advance.

    What to do in advance

    You won’t be surprised to know that sharing your home rather leans on you all having updated to the latest version of iOS, or macOS. If someone is on an older version than you, it’s possible the invitation won’t work.

    There is more, however. Everyone — that’s you and your invitees — must be signed in to iCloud on their device. They must also have an Apple device, this isn’t going to work on Android.

    How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests

    Assuming that they do, then on those Apple devices, they need to go to Settings. Tap on their name at the top, then from the page that appears, tap on iCloud. Then they, and you, must have Home switched on.

    This is all you need if you’re currently sitting at home and deciding on a guest list. Set up everything like this, then proceed to inviting people.

    However, if you’re away from home, there is something else you have to do. In fact, it’s something you have to have done before you left.

    You’ve got to set up a device as a home hub. With a HomePod, HomePod mini, Apple TV, or iPad, set up as a home hub, you can control your home remotely. And you can invite people from anywhere you are.

    How to share control of your home

    1. While you’re at home, open the Home app on any of your devices
    2. Tap the house-shaped icon at top left on iOS, toward the middle on Mac
    3. Choose Home Settings
    4. On the screen that appears, tap Invite People.
    5. Select from the Family members that appear, or start typing an email address
    6. Click Send Invite
    7. Click Done

    There is more that you can do, but this all you actually require to share your home. You’re sending out an invitation, and then waiting for a response.

    Curiously, there is a small difference between the Mac and iOS devices here. On iOS, when you go to invite people, you can type an address but you could also use the + icon that you can tap to see all your contacts. On the Mac, you don’t get that icon.

    How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests

    Whether you tap or type, though, you can enter more than one email address during this, and so send invitations to multiple people at once. While you’re waiting for them to respond, they are listed in the Home Settings panel with “invitation pending” written under their name.

    That’s the case both on the device you invited them from, and all of your other devices. Until they’ve accepted, though, their “invitation pending” does not appear on the devices of anyone else already in your home.

    So you might get away with planning that surprise party, just for a while.

    What more you can do with sharing

    In the Home Settings panel, scroll toward the bottom. Beneath all the various Home app settings, and above Remove Home, there is a section for Home Notes.

    Apple says that this is where you can “add notes for people who are sharing your home.” For instance, if you’ve set all of your outside lights to be part of the downstairs group, you could tell everybody that here.

    This is just a scratchpad for notes, it isn’t automatically sent out to your invitees. Which means you can invite them all and then make your notes afterwards.

    Frankly, you’re going to have to tell them this stuff verbally too, unless they check their Home app. But at least it’s an aide memoire for you.

    What happens when an invitee accepts

    When someone accepts your invitation, you see that they have done so because the “Invitation Pending” text disappears. From now on, this person appears on your Home app’s Home Settings screen the same way that you do.

    What they see is that your home is now listed in their Home app, along with all of your devices. You do still have further controls, you can limit what someone can do.

    How to share homekit access with family roommates and guests

    How to limit sharing your home

    1. Once someone has accepted the invitation, open the Home app
    2. Click on the house icon and choose Home Settings
    3. Tap or click on their name
    4. Select what features they can use

    The kinds of options you’ve got here are to do with security cameras, such as whether they can watch the cameras or also play back recordings. You can allow them to add or edit accessories, too.

    When either of you wants to stop

    If you’ve invited the wrong person, if you decide you were wrong about that person, or if it’s just that they’re leaving, you can undo the sharing. Equally, if they never want to darken your doorstep again, they can either refuse the invitation or back out later.

    To cancel an invitation you’ve sent that hasn’t been accepted yet, do this. Go to Home, Home Settings, click or tap on their name, then choose Cancel Invitation.

    There’s no confirmation prompt, no “Are You Sure?” message, they’re just instantly gone.

    When they have already accepted the invitation, the process is pretty much the same. Except this time you click or tap on their name to bring up the home sharing options, then if you scroll to the bottom, there’s a Remove Person button.

    There isn’t a way to allow, say, full access for a week. But you do remain in charge and you can elect when the party’s over, so to speak.

    Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, “Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider,” and you’ll get latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for “AppleInsider Daily” instead and you’ll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you’re interested in Apple-centric home automation, say “Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider,” and you’ll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.