Dealing with Multiple Google Accounts

Google_Chrome_and_Share_Chrome_with_other_people_-_Chrome_HelpToday I want to address an issue that arises with users who use multiple Google accounts. You might be in that situation if you use Google with both a work and a personal account.

NeatSchool uses Google Accounts to authenticate users. We have blogged before, and we will blog again, why this has been a great decision that improved both security and convenience for our users.  If you only have one Google account you can ignore the rest of this post, but do finish this paragraph because you might be using multiple Google accounts without realizing it. Most people end up using multiple Google accounts because they need one for personal reasons and one or more for work. In fact, you might not even realize that your work account is really a Google account. Many companies use Google for their e-mail service, so although your user name does not end in it might still be a Google account.

Google has over the years made many improvements to Google accounts. Their goal is to be able to have users log in into one or more accounts transparently. However, most users find this very confusing and it also does not work yet with all their services. When logging in to Google all the tabs in your browser and all the other browser windows you open use that account. If you later log in with a second account most Google services remember that you have two accounts; yet only one is active at a time. If you try to open a NeatSchool session it will use the account that is currently active that might not be what exactly you want to do. So what is the sane thing to do?

Here is what we recommend: Google Chrome has a little advertised but great feature called “Support for Multiple Users”. By setting up this feature you can start a browser window using one Google account that is independent from other browser windows. Whatever you do in that browser window stays in that browser window. You can distinguish which browser window is which because there is a small icon or text that appears at the top right of the browser window and tells you what you use that browser for. So, you can use one such “chrome user” window for each of your Google accounts.  This will not only help you keep your sanity, it will also guarantee isolation between work and personal. You will never be embarrassed again when personal stuff pops up in your browser while you show something to a colleague because it will not happen, work stuff will stay in the work browser window and personal stuff will stay in the personal browser window history. You just need to recall to pick the right browser window before you start a browsing task.

So how do you start using this great Chrome feature? Click here for directions or search for “Chrome multiple users” in your favorite search engine.