Google with multiple accounts: How it should work

If you're here, you probably already have a personal google account ([email protected]) and a google apps account at work ([email protected]).  And if you didn't have the 8-6, the kids to pick up from soccer and a burning lasagna in the oven you would probably be loading your handcuffs into the truck and hunting down Google's Single Sign On product manager or working on your torture cave. 

Okay, maybe a little extreme (FBI - joking.. totally joking) but I can't understand how anyone uses this shit successfully.  Here's the issues I've noticed:

  • Some services can only have one account signed in, so if you start shopping at with your work account because you were just checking your calendar, you will have to logout, lose your shopping cart, and your calendar and gmail sessions, etc.  No exceptions.
  • Some services allow you to switch between users, but when you switch, you switch all services in all windows, not just that one.
  • Extensions like google voice or calendar in your browser will be synced with the first account you logged into... which will of course change if one of the products which only allows one account (like play) screws you up and you need to fully sign out.

To sum, it's a complete cluster fuck.  I realize it is complex and there are probably edge cases I'm not considering, but here's how I think it should work:

  • 95% of the time I check my calendar, it's my work calendar.  I don't schedule cleaning, talking to my parents, drinking beer, bowling or pooping. 
  • 100% of the time I use google voice, it's my personal account, not work related.
  • 100% of the time I use Google Play it is to buy apps for my phone, not work related.
  • gmail is split 80% work / 20% personal.  I use Mailplane for this anyway.
  • Google docs is mostly work, and occassionally personal
  • Youtube, News, Reader, Picassa is 100% personal
  • Google Plus is about 50/50

I figure I'm probably the 90% case here.  Most people operate the same way.  Here's what I suggest google:

  • Allow a default account for each service.  If I visit the Calendar, always use my work account.  If I need to use my personal account, allow me to switch and automatically switch me back to the default after a certain period of inactivity.
  • Make the account selector work in every service.  In Play I have to logout instead of switching... why?
  • When I get a docs invite, try all my accounts and see if any work, don't make me think.


Your loyal data collection point.




I can relate to your issues,

Dieter Blomme's picture

I can relate to your issues, but for me when I switch accounts e.g. on gmail, not all my other windows change. Instead, it opens a new window for the "changed account" while keeping the one with the old account open.

And yes, my major grievance is also that i can't switch accounts for ALL google services, that would be priority #1 if I had the say :)

Add new comment | Jacob Singh

Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere,
when i read this article i thought i could also make comment due to this good paragraph.

Man, use Chrome mutil-profile

Man, use Chrome mutil-profile features; so you have one profile logged in with personal account and company account; the profile handles your 90% need. Then have another profile just sign-in to your company account, so when the 10% times that Google account services fails, switch to the second profile!



I don't really like the all

Sophia's picture

I don't really like the all accounts in one service. It means I cannot keep my personal Gmail account and my business Adwords account at the same time with one Chrome window. I have to log out, then log in to check one of them, log out again, sign in to another. I'm not a person who like to mix life and work together but there are times when you simply need your business account and personal account in the same browser...

Add new comment | Jacob Singh

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to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.