Security & Privacy

Bad Breakup? How To Stop Sharing Data with Your Ex on iPhone and iPad

Posted on February 14th, 2022 by and

Relationships are sometimes hard; some may last forever, and some end amicably, but others end in conflict. If you break up with a spouse or partner, you have to make a lot of changes in your life. After sharing so much, the separation involves changes—including to the data you may have shared. To ensure a clean break, you need to remove your ex from your digital life, and this can mean changing passwords, adjusting settings, and deleting apps.

In this article, we’ll tell you how to check and change sharing settings on your iPhone and iPad, so you no longer share your location, your calendar, or your apps.

Sharing on iOS and iPadOS

Both iOS and iPadOS are great for sharing: you can connect with your friends or partners and share your location, data about your life, photos, and much more. These features are designed to help you discover what your partner does, and vice versa. As long as you’re together, these features make sense, but there are many sharing options on iOS and iPadOS that you need to turn off when your relationship ends. Note that most of these features also apply to the Mac, and to change them on a Mac, go to System Preferences or the individual apps.

1. Family Sharing

If you have set up Family Sharing, which allows you to share apps and Apple services, you will want to remove yourself or your ex from the family group, depending on who created the group. To do this, go to Settings, tap your name, then tap Family Sharing. If you set up the family group, you can remove your ex by taping their name, then tapping Remove [name] from Family. If not, tap your name, then tap Stop Using Family Sharing.

When you remove someone from a family group, they no longer have access to Apple services, such as Apple Music, Apple TV+, or an Apple One subscription. They will also no longer be able to use the family group’s iCloud storage, and will no longer have access to purchases, such as movies or books. This will also turn off location sharing, remove the person from shared calendars and Reminders lists, and no longer give them access to shared albums in Photos.

Some things don’t change immediately. If someone is sharing an Apple Card Family account, you’ll need to remove them manually. And apps purchased by the family group won’t be deleted from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac; the person removed from the group will be able to delete apps or purchase them again, if they wish.

Not everyone uses Family Sharing, so if you don’t use this method of sharing, then you’ll need to check all of the following; even if you do use Family Sharing, you still need to make some of the changes below.

2. Apple ID

Some people share Apple ID accounts, or, if they have separate accounts, may tell their significant other what their Apple ID password is. If so, you must change this; your ex could have access to your email, messages, calendars, and other data.

Keep in mind that if someone has access to your email, they can potentially use the “password reset” function of sites and services—which often send a link to your email address that allows you to instantly reset your password—to break into your other accounts. In some cases, that might mean they can lock you out of your own accounts permanently.

To change your Apple ID password on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, go into the Settings app, tap your name, then tap Password & Security. Then tap Change Password, and enter a new password when prompted.

To change your Apple ID password on your Mac, go to the Apple menu, select System Preferences…, then click on Password & Security. Next, click on Change Password…, and enter a new password when prompted.

Make sure you don’t just change your existing password by one character, and make sure you don’t forget the new password.

3. Passcode, Touch ID, and Face ID

Some couples share the passcode on devices, or set up Touch ID or Face ID to be able to log into each others’ devices; it can be practical if you share an iPad, for example. Even if you are no longer physically together, you may want to change this, in case your ex still has a key to your home. Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode or Settings > Touch ID & Passcode (depending on which feature your device has). Scroll down and tap Change Passcode, and enter a new passcode.

For Touch ID, you may only see Finger 1 and Finger 2, unless you’ve named each one as you set them up. If your not sure which one belongs to your ex, tap Add a Fingerprint to re-register your thumbprint or fingerprint, then tap the existing fingerprints and delete each one.

With Face ID, you’ll need to tap Reset Face ID, then go through the process again with your face.

If you’re using a Touch ID-enabled Mac, the process is similar to removing fingerprints from an iPhone or iPad. Go to the Apple menu, select System Preferences…, then click on Touch ID to manage your Mac’s enrolled fingerprints.

These steps are especially important if your former special someone may still have physical access to your device. If they either know your device’s unlock PIN or passcode, or if they have access through facial or fingerprint biometric authentication, then chances are they can access your email. And as we mentioned previously, this could mean that they can use sites’ “password reset” functionality to lock you out of important accounts. With physical access, they can also potentially send messages that appear to be from you. It isn’t worth the risk, so you’ll want to act quickly on this one.

4. Location sharing

In the event of an acrimonious breakup, you don’t want your ex to be able to track you, so you should turn off location sharing. To do this, go to the Find My app, then tap People. Find the person you’ve shared locations with, tap their name, then tap Remove [name].

5. Shared photos

If you share photos with someone, go to the Photos app, then go to Share Albums. Select an album then tap the People icon to see who shared the album. If you shared it, tap the name of your ex, then tap Remove Subscriber. If you subscribed to a shared album, top Unsubscribe. You can also delete photos you’ve shared in an album.

Another thing you might want to do is remove photos of your ex, or you and them together, from your Photos library, so they don’t show up in Memories.

6. Calendars and Reminders

In the Calendar app, tap Calendars, then select a shared calendar. If you’ve shared the calendar, tap the ⓘ (circled lowercase i) icon, tap the name of your ex, then tap Stop Sharing. If you’re a subscriber, tap the ⓘ icon, then tap Delete Calendar.

7. Messages

Apple’s Messages app has some features you might want to disable.

If you’re on an iPhone, tap your ex’s name in the Messages app (if you still have a conversation thread with them), then tap on their name at the top of the screen. Scroll down a bit and toggle off items such as Show in Shared with You, Send Read Receipts, and Share Focus Status if any of these are enabled. In some cases, you may also want to enable the Hide Alerts setting to avoid getting notified when the person texts you.

If you’re on a Mac, tap your ex’s name in the Messages app, then tap the ⓘ (circled lowercase i) icon at the top of the Messages window. Scroll down a bit and uncheck items such as Show in Shared with You, Send Read Receipts, and Share Focus Status if any of these are checked.

8. Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch, and are sharing activity with someone, go to the Fitness app on your iPhone, then tap the Sharing tab. Tap the people icon at the top of the screen, tap the name of your ex, then tap Remove Friend.

9. Home

If you use the Home app to manage smart home devices, these could include cameras, smart locks, and more. To shop sharing your home with your ex, open the Home app, tap the house icon at the top left of the screen, then tap Home Settings. In People, tap a person you’re sharing the home with, then tap Remove Person. If you’re sharing someone else’s home, tap your name in Home Settings, then tap Leave Home.

Keep in mind that not all digital security cameras or other “smart” or “Internet of things” (IoT) devices are manageable through Apple’s Home app. For example, Ring doorbells and cameras and your Amazon Echo device could still allow someone to listen in or watch you in your home; you’ll need to manage those sharing settings via the Ring or Alexa apps, respectively.

10. Check third-party apps

There are other ways that data can be shared, notably through third-party apps. You may be sharing an exercise app that tracks your location, like Strava for example. Check all the apps you use to make sure your location isn’t accessible.

The same may be true for login credentials; if you think your ex has your credentials (i.e. your password, or a logged-in app) for any account that belongs to you, change your password to revoke their access.

And don’t forget to consider any third-party apps for IoT devices that may let others see or hear into your home, such as Alexa or Ring, as mentioned in the previous section.

11. And more…

Apple has a couple of checklists that you should look at to help you sort through the many possible ways that your data and location can be shared. See Checklist: If you want to make sure no one else can see your location, and Checklist: If you want to see if anyone else has access to your device or accounts. And you can check Apple’s Personal Safety User Guide for more information.

How can I learn more?

Each week on the Intego Mac Podcast, Intego’s Mac security experts discuss the latest Apple news, security and privacy stories, and offer practical advice on getting the most out of your Apple devices. Be sure to follow the podcast to make sure you don’t miss any episodes. In episode 226, we talked more about why you might want to change some of the settings discussed in this article.

You can also subscribe to our e-mail newsletter and keep an eye here on The Mac Security Blog for the latest Apple security and privacy news. And don’t forget to follow Intego on your favorite social media channels: Follow Intego on Twitter Follow Intego on Facebook Follow Intego on YouTube Follow Intego on Pinterest Follow Intego on LinkedIn Follow Intego on Instagram Follow the Intego Mac Podcast on Apple Podcasts

About Kirk McElhearn

Kirk McElhearn writes about Apple products and more on his blog Kirkville. He is co-host of the Intego Mac Podcast, as well as several other podcasts, and is a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, TidBITS, and several other websites and publications. Kirk has written more than two dozen books, including Take Control books about Apple's media apps, Scrivener, and LaunchBar. Follow him on Twitter at @mcelhearn. View all posts by Kirk McElhearn →