I'm considering getting one of the Nexus tablets for my family. I think the multi-user support is a great way to separate my apps from the kids games. But what I've read about the implementation of multiple users seems lacking. Without a device to experiment on I am left to ask here how this works.

What I would like to do is setup myself as owner, with my Google email address and Play Store credentials. Next I'd like to add users for my wife and my kids. Setting up a profile for my wife is easy as she has her own android phone and I can use her Google account for that. It's adding a user profile for each of my kids that I'm uncertain about.

  1. My kids are young and don't have email addresses. Nor do I want them to yet. Do I have to create an address for each of them? What are my alternatives?

  2. Can I configure the Play store for the kids user profiles to use my Play store sign-on / credentials? On my phone I have the option of doing this, though I don't know what effect it would have there either (does it uninstall the apps from the first sign on and sync down those from the second)?

Obviously I don't want to pay multiple times for apps for my kids. It's one thing for adults to buy their own apps, but does Google really expect each kid to have an associated credit card and to buy their own apps?

Any assistance in the correct way to configure the tablet would be appreciated.

  • I've a Nexus 7, I'll set up a new user and test it out, take a few screenshots and post them up as the answer. Good question.
    – Peanut
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:03
  • Thank you, I'm really curious what happens with some of the different permutations.
    – tcarvin
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:06
  • If you do test a few things out, see if you can create a test kid user profile with no google account, but then configure the Play store to use a real google account.
    – tcarvin
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:41
  • Yeah I'm doing that, I'll have it written up in a bit.
    – Peanut
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:50
  • Not sure my answer covered the "(does it uninstall the apps from the first sign on and sync down those from the second)?" could you clarify what you mean?
    – Peanut
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:27

4 Answers 4


Set up a child account on the device, this is pretty simple, there's an overview of that process here. You don't to sign the child in using a Google account, it lets you skip these steps.

Assuming you want your kids to be able to download any apps you've already paid for, or want to be able to download any apps you buy them, sign into the Play Store on the child account using your main account's credentials, it's probably worth also choosing not to sync all of the main account's emails/contacts/etc. across at this point. You can then add a PIN to the Play Store so that they can't buy anything with your details and also choose the maturity rating of the content they see, this won't affect the settings of the main account's Play Store on the device despite the fact you're using the same Google account on the store.

From this your kids can access all your already paid for applications but thanks to the PIN won't be spending any of your money, at least not without your knowledge, and you haven't had to sign them up for a Google account.

Any apps that they download also aren't automatically put into your main accounts app list so you don't have to worry about them downloading a load of games and it filling your home screen a la iPad/iPhone style.

The downside to this approach is that your kids will be able to read your GMail, see your calender and contacts etc. A good solution to this is an app locker which restricts them from using these applications. I tested APP Lock and it seemed to do the job well.

If you don't mind your kids not being able to download apps you've already paid for on your account and aren't bothered about not being able to access any games you buy them then I think it would be worth signing up for a new main Google account and adding your credit card details to this. You could then sign onto the child's Play Store using this new account, set up the PIN same and maturity in the same way as the last approach but this time you won't have to worry about them seeing your emails or any other information that is linked to your main account.

For both of these approaches if you download an application on the child's account with your main account selected in the Store but have added the child's email as well and then switched back to this on the Store after the download the app will remain on the device and still be usable.

If you want any more information, clarification or screenshots just say in the comments and I'll add it or test it out if I haven't already.

  • It sounds, so far like I have to do the second option, but for those of us with more than one child it still causes problems because each child cannot have their own setup in that situation right (without re-buying the same game for the same device for each child)?
    – tcarvin
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:43
  • 1
    Either option would work for multiple children's accounts on a device since there is one main account that buys the apps and they are linked to this. So if you made two children's account on the tablet and added your account to both of their Play Stores when you bought a game for one of them it would be available to the other as well.
    – Peanut
    Dec 4, 2012 at 18:50
  • Sweet! Wish I could throw you an extra +1
    – tcarvin
    Dec 4, 2012 at 19:55

If your children use your Google Account, you could install some kind of app locker to stop them opening the GMail app and reading your emails.

The newer Google Play versions also allow you to apply a PIN to purchases - which would probably be handy in this place.

If they use your Google Account, they will have access to all the apps that you have purchased, but if they do not then they will have to be purchased again.

If you do not want to use your email address/google account for your children, then you would have to make them one, if they were to use Google Play. You could keep the passwords, and install an app locker to prevent the gmail app from opening.

The only issue with them having their own accounts would be that you would have to re-buy apps for their accounts.

For your number 2 point, you can have an unlimited number of devices with a single google account - it will not remove apps from your phone, but it may download apps if they are backed up. To counteract this, you will have to make sure you untick the 'Restore data from this Google Account' option when setting up the Google Account.

  • If I create a profile for each of my kids with a new secret email address for them, can I subsequently change the Play store account to my credentials and buy apps for them that are then associated with their profile?
    – tcarvin
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:11
  • No. App purchases are linked to google accounts, and cannot be transferred. You can make them an account, and then add your account to google play, and download paid apps. You can even then remove your account, but the apps won't be linked to their account, and you would have to use your account to update them.
    – Liam W
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:14
  • I don't mind that they are not linked to the fake google account I setup as long as they are linked/available from their "profile" on the tablet. I cannot tell if a Google account and profile on the table are synonymous or just associated to each other.
    – tcarvin
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:39
  • They are associated to each other. If you set up a new profile on the tablet, it has it's own Google Account and needs to use that account to download the apps.
    – Liam W
    Dec 4, 2012 at 17:42
  • Just to confirm, it seems that from the testing Peanut did that the answer to my question of "If I create a profile for each of my kids with a new secret email address for them, can I subsequently change the Play store account to my credentials and buy apps for them that are then associated with their profile?" is Yes? (Though perhaps replacing associated with accessible is more accurate). I appreciate all the help and feedback...I'd throw you both an extra +1 if it let me :)
    – tcarvin
    Dec 4, 2012 at 19:54

If you are happy to root your tablet, you can use Multi-User App Share. With this, purchase/install all apps for the tablet as the administrator user, then you can choose which of these apps is available to other users.

This way, you don't need to set up an email address for each child, and the child will never have access to your account. If you give the child an email address in due course, then (s)he can access his/her emails without seeing yours.

Warning: Multi-User App Share is currently in beta.

  • Do you know if using something like this is something that Google is ok with, or is it probable they'll try to disable this hack somehow in the future? May 8, 2013 at 8:01

Another alternative if you have a rooted device, or are willing to root it, is AppShare(+).
(Full disclosure: I am the developer).

It mimics the method that Google uses to enable/disable apps on a user account.

You can install it on your primary account, and then select which of your apps you'd like to "share" (enable) with each of your kids' accounts.

You also have the ability to "unshare" (disable) system or user apps.
So you could remove the Gmail app, or even the Play Store app, to prevent your kids from getting at stuff that you wouldn't want them to. I have found that this works best when you remove system apps from a "fresh" user – i.e. One that has not had a Google account set up on it yet.

For paid apps however, you may – depending on how their licencing works – have to add the Google account that you used to purchase the app, to the user that you wish to share the paid app with in order for it to work.

The Play Store description explains what can be done, and some of the limitations, in more detail.

  • Do you know if using something like this is something that Google is ok with, or is it probable they'll try to disable this hack somehow in the future? May 8, 2013 at 8:00

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