From Gmail to Google Docs to Google Calendar, it can sometimes feel like everything we do is in the Google family of apps.
But what happens when you end up with multiple Google accounts? If you use any Google products for work, chances are, you have more than one. At the very least, you’ll have a personal Gmail account and a professional account you use for email, word processing, planning and accepting meetings, and more.
Keeping up with all those accounts can be challenging. Just checking your personal email on your work device may require you take extra time to log out and log back in again. And if you have two-step authentication turned on, you’ll probably be asked to enter a verification code frequently as you’re logging out and back in again.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Shift lets you set up your Google accounts side by side, allowing you to move between apps, even on different accounts, without entering a password or username. Here’s what you need to know about managing multiple Google accounts.
The Problem with Multiple Google Accounts
The more accounts you have, the more passwords and usernames you need to keep up with. But it’s not just the convenience. All those security measures can put you at risk of a breach, whether you use the same password for every account or you keep it in a document on your computer. Even sticky notes hidden in a drawer can be a problem if you accidentally leave that drawer unlocked someday.
But the biggest issue with multiple accounts is that transitioning from one account to the other can become clunky. You have to sign in and out of each account, and Google’s two-step authentication doesn’t make that easy. The same security that protects your accounts from hackers can create headaches for you when you’re trying to do your work.
Most importantly, though, multiple Google accounts become confusing. If you have one for work or school and one for personal use, it’s probably not as big a deal. But freelancers who need accounts for each client or employees who have accounts for various functions can find that they’re easily lost. Which account has which calendar? Are you in that account right now, or do you have to log out?
Managing Multiple Google Accounts
Shift streamlines your Google accounts by giving you access to all the apps you use in one place. This includes Google Docs and Gmail. You can have icons for each of your Gmail account logins alongside icons for your multiple Google Docs and Google Calendar accounts. Once it’s set up, you’ll freely move between each of them. No logging in or out necessary.
You’ll first need to set up a primary account with Shift, which you’ll do during setup. You’ll do this by inputting an email address, then choosing a color for the icon that will display. Over time, you’ll come to associate that color with the apps and logins you use most often in Shift.
Once you’re in, you can then easily add other Google accounts by simply clicking on the Plus sign in the bottom-left corner. You’ll need to input your username and password for each account, then assign a color for the associated icon. Once you have it set up, you won’t have to worry about inputting that username and password again.
Your Shift desktop will feature the apps you’ve added on the left toolbar. The right toolbar will have the Google Calendar, Google Keep, and contacts for the Google account you’ve chosen on the left. You can also add apps to the right side of your screen.
Another way to make it easy to differentiate one Google account from another is to use a different profile picture with each account. If one is your personal account, consider a more casual headshot of yourself or a fun cartoon avatar.
Google apps aren’t the only accounts you can add to your Shift desktop. You can also add your other favorite apps to make it easy to do your work while keeping your Google accounts readily available.
Switching Between Multiple Google Accounts
Once your Google accounts have been added, you can use them just as you would in your browser. But instead of clicking on bookmarks or inputting a URL, you’ll simply scroll down to the icon on your desktop and select the app and the account you need.
If the profile picture and color of each icon don’t tip you off immediately to which account is which, you can hover over each icon. When you do, the pop-up will show you the username associated with that app.
Clicking on an icon to the left will pull up the app on your screen. You’ll be able to use the app and navigate around within it just as you would if you’d pulled it up in a web browser. With Gmail, you can view your inbox, sent items, and all your folders on the left, as well as your primary, social, and promotions tabs on the top. With Google Docs, you’ll see the same toolbar and editing options you’d have with the web version of the app. The only difference is that on your left, you’ll have a toolbar that lets you easily move to a different app as needed.
Best of all, you’re never limited to the Google accounts you’ve already added. If you decide you need to add more later, you can easily do so by simply clicking on the Plus symbol. To move an icon to a different position on the taskbar, simply click and drag them around.
As to how to arrange your Google apps, that’s up to you. You may prefer to keep all your Gmail accounts together, followed by all your Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms. If you only use Docs for one of your Gmail accounts, you may instead prefer to keep that email account with your Google Docs account. Your work account may be your primary use of Google, so your version of Shift may be set up with your work accounts at the top and your personal account less accessible.
Shift doesn’t just support your Gmail accounts. Along with all the other non-Google apps you can add, Shift also supports Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Apple Mail, and Android Messages. By adding them all, you can easily check for new messages in just seconds. You might even choose to keep all your email apps together in the toolbar to make sure you never miss an important message.
You can view a full list of all the email and messaging apps supported by Shift here.
Managing Multiple Gmail Accounts
Shift makes toggling between accounts easy, but you can still move between Google accounts without it. We’ll start by walking you through the steps of linking your Gmail accounts since Gmail is typically the app Google users access most. Then we’ll discuss how to toggle between them once they’re connected.
How to link your Gmail accounts
- When signed into a Gmail account, click on your profile picture in the upper-right corner of your browser window.
- Click Add Another Account.
- Input the second email address and password.
- Select Sign In.
Once they’re connected, moving back and forth should be as easy as clicking on your profile picture and selecting the alternate account you want to open. You may occasionally be asked to verify your identity, though, for security purposes.
If you want to log into another account without toggling back and forth, you can open an incognito window and log into Gmail there. You can also use a separate browser, such as Safari if you use Chrome, and keep your alternate email address open. If you toggle back and forth throughout the day, that may be easier than moving back and forth.
Related Article: How to Manage Multiple Gmail Accounts
Managing Multiple Google Calendars
In Shift, moving between Google Calendars is easy. You simply select the account whose calendar you want to view on the left, and then choose the Google Calendar icon on the right side of the screen. You can then view and edit your calendar as you would with your primary Google account.
Without Shift, there are a few extra steps, but it’s still fairly simple. Here are the steps.
- Go to Calendar.Google.com.
- Click on your profile picture in the upper-right corner of your screen.
- Select the email address connected to the calendar you want to open.
- The calendar for that account will open.
If it’s the first time you’ve opened the calendar for that account, you’ll need to get some things set up. But the next time you pull up that account’s Google Calendar, everything will be in place.
But what if you don’t want separate calendars for your various Google accounts? After all, you’re one person, so you can only be in one place at a time. You can add your secondary calendars to your own so that all your events show up in one place. There are two ways you can do that.
- From your main calendar, click the Plus sign next to Other Calendars at the bottom of your left taskbar.
- Select Subscribe to Calendar and input the Gmail address of your other account.
- When the box pops up, request access. You’ll need to log into your other account and grant access.
- You can also subscribe to calendars of colleagues, family members, and those you find interesting using this.
You can also share the other calendar with your main account. To do this, log into the account with the calendar you want to share.
- On the left, find the calendar you want to share with under My Calendars.
- Click the three dots to the right of the name of the calendar you want to share.
- Scroll down to the section that reads Share with specific people.
- Click Add people and input the email address of your main account.
- Click Send.
- When you go to your main account, you’ll have an email. Click the link in the email to add your secondary calendar to your main calendar.
The best thing about shared calendars in Google Calendar is that you can easily hide calendars you don’t want to see. Just uncheck the calendar in the list under My Calendars on the left taskbar.
Related Article: How to Manage Multiple Google Calendars
Managing Multiple Google Drive accounts
Although switching between multiple Google Drive accounts is easy in Shift, it can still be done without it. The issue with Google Drive accounts is that it doesn’t ask you to log in. When you go to the app in your browser, it automatically opens the account associated with the Google account that’s logged in. So if you’re logged into your primary Gmail account, that’s the Drive that will open.
That means the Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides apps that open in your browser will be the ones that go with your primary email account. To get to the Drive that goes with a secondary Gmail account, you’ll have to log out and back in again.
You can, however, toggle between accounts, just as you do with Gmail. As with Gmail, you’ll click on your profile picture and go down to the account you want to open. You can go back and forth that way.
What if you want to have two instances of a Google Drive app open at once? There are some complicated maneuvers you can do in Windows to make that happen. You’ll just need to create a new user in Windows and open an account to go with your secondary Google Drive. You’ll then see two Google Drive icons in your taskbar.
A far easier option is to create a second profile in Google Chrome. You’ll just add a new user. To do that:
- Click on your profile picture in your Chrome browser. You’ll see it to the right of the address bar.
- In the box that pops up, select Add. Input a name and choose a photo.
- Click Add.
- You’ll be prompted to turn on sync. If you choose Yes, you’ll be able to sync the bookmarks, history, and other information for Google Chrome.
Once you’ve added the profile, you’ll only need to click on that photo and choose the second profile to access that user’s Google Drive account. You’ll have to switch back to your main profile to return to your own Google Drive account.
The easiest way to keep Google Drive apps open side by side is through Shift. This is especially true if you frequently need to copy and paste information from one Google document to another or open one account to research while you work in another.
Related Article: How to Manage Multiple Google Drive Accounts
How to Sync Google Contacts Across Multiple Accounts
If you have multiple Google accounts, chances are, you have multiple contact lists flying around. You also need to sync those contacts across all your devices. When synced, you can rest easily, knowing that when you change a contact on one account, on one device, it will update across all your device.
First, though, you may want to make sure you’re operating with the same group of contacts across your devices. If you log into every device using your primary Gmail account, you’ll be missing the contacts that go with your other accounts. Unfortunately, there’s no way to easily sync contacts across Google accounts.
There are apps like Contacts+ that will do the syncing for you. Otherwise, you’ll have to export your contacts from one account, then import them into the one you want to make your primary.
Once you have all your contacts in one account, you’ll be ready to sync your Google Contacts across devices. How you go about syncing your contacts, though, depends on the devices you’re using. If you have an Android device, all your contacts will sync to your device when you log in using your Google account. If you use multiple accounts with your Android device, your contacts will contain contacts from each of them.
Your device should be set up to automatically sync. To check it:
- Open Settings on your Android device.
- Tap Google and Account Services. Choose Google Contacts Sync and Status.
- Make sure Automatically Sync is turned on.
- You can immediately sync your contacts by opening the Contacts app and pulling down on the list.
What if you have an iOS device? You can still sync your Google Contacts. To do so:
- Unlock your phone and go to Settings.
- Tap Accounts & Passwords and choose Add Account.
- Select Google.
- Input your email and password and tap Next.
- Toggle Contacts to the on position.
- Tap Save at the top to save your changes.
To sync your Google Contacts on your computer, go to Settings on your Windows 10 device. Choose Accounts, Email & App Accounts, Add an Account and Google. You’ll be prompted to enter your email address and password. Make sure Allow is checked under Permissions.
For Mac computers, go to System Preferences, Internet Accounts, Google, and enter your email address and password. Click Next, Contacts, and Done.
Use Shift to Manage All Your Google Accounts
Shift is designed to make it easy to work with multiple Google accounts. Whether you use Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Calendar, or a combination of all of Google’s apps, multiple accounts can make things complicated. Check out a full list of the apps Shift supports and download Shift to find out how you can use Shift to organize all the apps and accounts you use every day.