How to Set Up a Second Google Account and How To Use It

Photo: Niclas Illg (Unsplash)

A Google account gives you access to a host of apps, covering email, maps, cloud storage, music, movies, productivity tools and more—and you don’t have to settle for just one account. Whether you’ve been given a second account for work or want a second one for personal use, here’s how to get it set up and integrated into your life.

Setting up a second account

Google will want a few details from you.
Screenshot: Gizmodo
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You’ll need to give Google some information, and a phone number, to set up a second account, which you can do from here. Google will give you some suggestions about an account name (which doubles as your Gmail address), based on the name you give, but you can pick something else if you prefer.

You’ll need to provide a date of birth, your gender, and a password of course. You have the option to provide a backup email address as well, which we’d recommend (it can even be the Gmail address connected to your original Google account)—this is used if you ever have problems logging into your second account.

The first screen you’ll see next is Gmail—a wonderfully clean, empty Gmail inbox—and from there you can take care of other housekeeping business, like adding a picture to your Google account profile, and setting up two-factor authentication, which you absolutely should do.

Adding a second Google account to your phone

On Android, it’s almost expected that you’ll want to use a second account. The process may vary slightly depending on the phone and version of Android you’re using, but on stock Android, open Settings then tap Accounts, Add account, and Google. You’ll be asked to sign in with the credentials associated with your new username and password.

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How this affects individual apps depends on the app. In Gmail, for example, tap your avatar (top right), then choose your newly added account from the list; in YouTube, meanwhile, you again tap your avatar (top right), then tap your current account name, then pick your second account.

Gmail for Android and iOS lets you view emails for several accounts on one screen.
Screenshot: Gizmodo
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Google Drive is likely to be an app where you’re going to want to switch between accounts regularly, particularly if your second account is for work. As with Gmail and YouTube, tap your avatar icon up in the top right-hand corner, then pick your second account.

You shouldn’t have much trouble finding the account switcher in any of your Google apps. In Google Photos, it’s at the top of the app menu (three lines, top left); in Google Maps, it’s up in the top right-hand side behind your avatar; in Play Movies & TV, you need to open the app menu (three lines, top left), then choose your second account.

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Gmail works a little differently in that it lets you merge your accounts together, something that the other Google apps don’t do—in other words, you can see all your emails on the same screen. Open the app menu (three lines, top left), then choose All inboxes. You’ve actually got a few options for merging emails from several Google accounts in Gmail, which we’ll discuss in the web section underneath.

Adding secondary accounts on your phone just takes a couple of taps.
Screenshot: Gizmodo
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For those of you on iPhones, the easiest way to set up a second Google account is to install the Google app for iOS. Tap your avatar (top right), then Add another account, then follow the instructions to log in. You’ll also be asked which account you want to make the default.

As on Android, the Google apps each have their own account switcher—behind the avatar in the top right-hand corner in Google Drive, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, and on the app menu in Google Photos and Play Movies & TV. Gmail for iOS has the same All inboxes option as the Android version of the app.

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Adding a second Google account on the web

If you’re on a laptop or desktop, it’s a good idea to start in Gmail when it comes to setting up a second Google account—this second account will then be available in all your other Google web apps too. From Gmail on the web, click your avatar (top right), then Add another account, then sign in to your second account.

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As yet there’s no ‘blended’ view for looking at emails across all your Google accounts on one screen, like there is on Android and iOS—you’ll just have to keep separate tabs open instead. However, as we mentioned above, you do have a couple of options for getting all your Google emails in the same inbox.

One is to simply forward emails from your second account, which is handy if you don’t really use it all that much. On the Gmail screen for your second account, click the cog icon (top right), then Settings, then Forwarding and POP/IMAP. Click Add a forwarding address to send emails straight from your second account to your first one.

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Gmail gives you several options for combining emails across more than one account.
Screenshot: Gizmodo

That’s simple to set up, but it doesn’t let you use your original Gmail inbox to reply to emails using your secondary address. For that, you need to enable POP access to your second Google account (Enable POP for all mail on the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab that we mentioned above). You can choose whether copies of your emails stay in your secondary Gmail inbox when accessed from the first.

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Back in the Gmail inbox for your first Google account, click the cog icon (top right), then Settings, then Accounts and Import—you need to add your second account in both the Send mail as and Check mail from other accounts sections. If you’re unsure about any of the settings, you’ll find them listed here.

Once you’ve added your second Google account in Gmail on the web, it’ll appear in the menu if you click your avatar in any of Google’s other web apps: Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Calendar, YouTube, YouTube Music and so on. You can’t view information from two accounts together on the same screen, but you can at least run apps signed into different Google accounts simultaneously in multiple tabs.

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You can set up multiple profiles on the Chrome browser.
Screenshot: Gizmodo

Google Chrome also gives you the option of configuring multiple profiles—it’s like having multiple user accounts on Windows or macOS, so all the browsing history, bookmarks, passwords and other browser data will be kept separate inside your two Google accounts.

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Click the avatar button on the Chrome toolbar, then choose Manage people, then pick Add person. You need to choose a name for the second profile, then a picture, and then sign in using the credentials for your second account—you can switch accounts by again clicking on the avatar button on the Chrome toolbar.

In terms of the end user experience, adding a second profile isn’t a whole lot different from just opening up your second account in new tabs—but it does run Chrome in a separate instance on the taskbar or dock, and it does let you separate bookmarks, passwords, history and so on for your second account if you need to.

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