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How to Separate Google Accounts

Simon Vreeswijk

Director of Marketing - 30 Nov, 2022

If you only have one Google account, things are probably pretty simple for you. In fact, you probably don’t need to read this article (although you might learn some other valuable tips). One of the biggest complaints about Google accounts is that managing multiple of them can be quite cumbersome and confusing. Luckily, there are easier ways to both manage or separate Google accounts. In this post, we are covering everything you need to know about keeping Google accounts separate so you can make the most of them.

Why Have Multiple Google Accounts?

What are the reasons that people typically use more than one Google account? There are actually several scenarios in which it makes sense for people to have more than one Google account. The truth is there is no limit to how many Google accounts one holder is able to have. Users can quickly and easily create new accounts any time they need to. They can also link accounts to each other, but this is where things tend to get confusing. That’s because the more accounts you have, the more logins you need to remember. Many people choose to use their original Google account as a recovery email address and link other accounts to it - but that can get cumbersome as well.

Some of the top reasons people have more than one Google account are:

  • Having a personal and work account
  • Having a personal and school account
  • Having a personal, school, and work account (the trifecta)
  • Maintaining a separate profile for side-work or freelancing
  • Managing profiles for different departments or work or project teams
  • Maintaining a back-up profile for important document or email storage
  • Managing an account for someone else, for instance in the case of an executive assistant
  • Managing an account for a client
  • More everyday scenarios

Related Article: How to Manage Multiple Gmail Accounts

Why Separate Google Accounts?

So what is the problem with having a work and a school account? No big deal, right?

As any user of multiple or linked Google accounts can tell you, it’s easy for problems to arise. You want to avoid this as much as possible. Here are some of the common challenges that come with maintaining multiple accounts:

  • Sending mail from the wrong address - Do you send a personal email from your work instance? Or is it safe to send a work email from your personal account? What if you’re in a hurry and don’t bother seeing which account you are logged into? When you are using linked accounts, you need to be extra careful about what you’re sending and to whom. Do the documents you’re sending have the same permissions? If not, that can be an issue. Need an example of where this is a specific problem? Consider the implications of sending a response to a potential new employer from a current Google account that you also share with coworkers. You also have to consider whether you want personal email recipients to have your work email, and vice versa. You can see how the waters quickly become murky and it’s a lot easier to separate accounts and maintain them independently.
  • Linking to an incorrect calendar - It’s helpful for busy people to be highly organized. Not doing so can result in a plethora of problems. This means linking items to the correct Google calendar is essential. Poorly organized calendars between accounts can cost you a lot of time - and eventually your sanity. Keep your calendars in great working order by separating them accordingly. Then you can maintain your schedule without breaking your workflow or disrupting productivity - or missing important meetings!
  • Getting profiles mixed up - This is particularly problematic when emails look similar or have similar subject lines. It’s also common when senders have the same or similar names. Some users complain that the “threaded email” feature enabled on Gmail can make this issue worse. No matter the reason, it can be a hassle and you can see how larger repercussions can occur. If you want some temporary relief, you can create labels for your conversations and/or deactivate the threaded email feature. A longer-term fix is separating your profiles altogether.
  • Authenticating multiple Google accounts with the same phone number - Users can authenticate up to four (4) Google accounts with a single phone number. If you’re someone who uses a lot of Gmail accounts, that can pose a problem. On the other hand, you can set ​​up a free Google voice number (or two, or three) to use for verification for Google profiles. Though that will enable you to create more accounts - an example use case is using several emails for marketing purposes - it becomes even more complicated and challenging to master.
  • Chances of a security breach - You may not want to hear this, but the more Google accounts you have, the more vulnerable you are to a data or privacy issue. The more accounts you have, the more passwords and usernames you need to keep up with. Additionally, if you have two-factor authentication, that adds additional steps (and many people skip this measure for this exact reason). Not only is that kind of inconvenient, but dealing with so many security measures can put you at risk. The solution is not to use the same password to streamline everything - that’s another risk. Write everything down on a piece of paper and tuck it in a drawer? Well, that poses its own risk.

In addition to the specific hurdles listed here, there’s the fact that dealing with multiple accounts is just plain annoying. Endless logging in and out is clunky and takes too much time. It can become really confusing, especially if you’re a person who uses a separate account for each client, for example. Some people are managing 20 or 30 Google accounts, with various linked activities and permissions. Think about the cluttered calendars and the time logging in and out. What account are you even in right now? You can see how things get out of control quickly.

Tips for Managing Separate Google Accounts

Now that we’ve convinced you of the dangers of managing multiple accounts, you might be feeling a little panicked. However, you don’t need to. With today’s technology, there are a lot of ways to make multiple accounts work for you. Here’s a few tips.

Use the Chrome Profiles method - Chrome Profiles allow you to set up different profiles for each Google account that you have. This works on a Mac or PC, and you can easily find a video tutorial online. Then all of your Chrome settings, bookmarks, passwords, themes, extensions, and apps can sync to that device. In this way you can move between your work laptop and home computer, for example. The steps for doing so are as follows:

    1. Clean up your accounts by signing out of them and then clicking “Remove Account” at the bottom of the sign-in prompt.
    2. Log into Chrome with your primary account and go into Settings. Check to see if you’re already logged in, and then sign into Google with your primary account.
    3. Now you can start creating Chrome profiles for your other accounts. Click on the Chrome Profile icon next to the three dots in the top-right of the Chrome browser and go to “Manage People”. Choose “Add Person” and then name your profile and click “Add”.
    4. A new window will open asking you to login. Do so and then Log in with your secondary account and choose your sync preferences.
    5. Login to your next Google Account Using the Secondary Profile Window.

Separate Google profiles - According to Google Support, you can follow these instructions to unlink various accounts, including other third-party apps. Here are the specific steps to follow:

    1. Check the Linked accounts page
    2. Go to the Linked accounts page of your Google Account. You might need to sign in.
    3. Select the third-party account you want to unlink from your Google Account ->Unlink.

Note: Before you unlink your account, you’ll have the chance to read the third-party’s privacy policy to learn about the kind of info it shares with Google.

Check Google apps: 

    1. Go to the Google app where you linked the third-party account with your Google Account. For example, the Google Home app, the Google Assistant app, or the YouTube app.
    2. Select Connected accounts, Linked accounts, or Apps. This may be in the Google app’s Settings section.
    3. Find the third-party account that you want to unlink from your Google Account.
    4. Next to the third-party account you want to unlink, select Remove or Unlink.

Related Article: How to Manage Multiple Google Accounts

Using Shift to Separate Google Accounts

If those steps sound like a little bit of a pain, that’s because they can be. Fortunately, there is another way. Let us introduce you to Shift. Using Shift, you can keep your unlinked accounts separate without constant logging in and out. Shift doesn’t do the work of manually separating your accounts - you’ll have to follow the steps above to do that - but it makes things even easier by allowing your accounts to exist as you set them up, but in a way that’s much easier to manage. With Shift, you can have separate Google accounts maintained in one place, while keeping everything straight with a platform that makes logging in and out obsolete. You can easily find and work from the correct account, without needing to interact with other profiles at all. How does it work?

Shift is a powerful desktop app that allows you to streamline and collaborate across accounts and workflows - including the Google suite of solutions. Using Shift gives you access to all the apps you use in one simple place (including Google Docs, Gmail, and many others). Users have icons for each of their Google account logins alongside icons for things like Google Docs and Google Calendar accounts. Setting things up is straightforward, and once you have things how you like them, you can move freely between each of these icons - no logging in or out necessary!

First, you’ll have to set up a primary account with Shift. You can do this during setup by entering an email address, then choosing a color for the icon that will display for that account. As time goes on, you will naturally connect that color with the apps and logins you use most often in Shift.

From there, you can easily add other Google accounts by simply clicking on the plus sign in the bottom-left corner. For every account, you’ll need to enter your username and password, and assign a color for the associated icon. Once everything is set up, you won’t have to worry about entering that username or password again.

Your specific Shift desktop will feature the apps that you’ve chosen to add on a toolbar. It will hold icons for things like Google Calendar, Google Keep, and contacts for that particular profile. You can also add apps to the other side of your screen to make it simple to keep your most used items handy. You can also use other features in Shift to differentiate one Google account from another by having a different profile picture for each account. For example, if one account is for your personal use, you may have a photo of your dog. For a work account, you might use your professional headshot.

Plus, Google apps aren’t the only things you can add to your Shift desktop. You can keep adding all of your favorite apps so it’s easier to do your work while keeping Google accounts readily available and limiting the login-logout process. Once your Google accounts have been added, you can use everything just as you would in your typical browser. Instead of clicking on bookmarks or typing a URL, you can simply scroll down to the correct icon on your desktop and choose the app or account you want. Pro tip: In the event that your chosen profile picture or color doesn't immediately alert you to which account is which, you can just hover over each icon. As you do, a pop-up will appear to show you the username associated with that particular app or account. You can use apps and navigate around just as you would if you had pulled it up in a web browser. For example, in Gmail you can view your inbox, sent items, and all of your folders in one space, as well as the usual “primary, social, and promotions” tabs on top. For Google Docs, you can see the same toolbar and editing tools that you have with the web version of the app. The only difference is that when you use Shift, you can take advantage of a toolbar that lets you easily move to a different app.

Furthermore, users love that they aren’t limited to a certain amount of Google accounts. If you need to add more profiles later, you always can by clicking on the “plus” symbol. You can also move icons to a different position on the taskbar by clicking and dragging. The interface is very intuitive and is designed to work in the way that makes you most productive.

What’s the best way to arrange your Google Apps? That’s really up to you. Remember, Shift is flexible and the idea is to make your workflows less stressful. You might want to keep all of your Gmail accounts together, followed by all of your Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms. Or maybe you only use Docs for one of your Gmail accounts, and you want to keep that email account with your Google Docs account. If your primary use of Google accounts is for work, then you might want to set up your desktop with all of the other apps you use for your job. The same goes for your personal account.

Related Article: How to Get a Gmail App for Desktop

Shift Goes Beyond Google

As we’ve touched on, Shift is made for so much more than just separating Google accounts. There are tons of other apps you can add, along with platforms like Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Apple Mail, Android Messages, etc. You can view a full list of the apps that are supported here.

Anyone who uses online platforms will find Shift to be a valuable resource. With Shift, you can organize and manage the following:

  • Mail - Connect all of your Gmail, Outlook, and Office 365 accounts and manage everything from one centralized workstation.
  • Apps - WhatsApp, Slack, Messenger—we have everything you need to get it done. Browse our Apps Directory, connect yours, and switch between them easily.
  • Search - Save time and find exactly what you're looking for across any of your Mail, Calendar, and Drive accounts.
  • Chrome extensions - Enjoy access to Boomerang, Grammarly, LastPass, and many of your other favorite Chrome Extensions.
  • Focused web tabs - Access the web from inside Shift. Manage your tabs and organize them by account for a better browsing experience.
  • Workspaces - Create a Workspace with the exact apps, tabs, and bookmarks you need, then share it with your team to get the job done.
  • Account management - Toggle between your most-used accounts, check notifications and streamline your workflow.

If you’re ready to have more control over your Google accounts, give Shift a try. It will help you to keep everything in one place and skip the logging in and out - saving valuable time and even reducing stress for your best Google product experience.