Set the Default Google Account for Multiple Gmail Account Users

Aug 13, 2014 - 3 Comments

Switching Google accounts

Using Google’s “multiple sign-in” feature is a great way to juggle between multiple Google accounts and Gmail addresses. But a common issue with using multiple Google accounts is being able to determine which is the default account, and it’s easy to get things mixed up with multiple logins. That’s what we’re looking to resolve here, by setting the proper account as the default Google account, regardless of how many other accounts are in use.


This is a multiple step process that may seem a little confusing initially, though once it’s setup it works flawlessly across the web and maintains the default. Ideally, Google will offer a simple “set this as default” option in the near future for all web services they offer, since many people have multiple google accounts for personal, work, and accessory uses. Keep in mind this is focusing on web use, and that iOS users have the excellent Gmail app that can handle multiple accounts very well simply by swapping between which address you want to use. That’s basically how the web feature will work too once it’s set up, though we’re mostly focusing on which will appear as the default account when you visit any Google web service.

Setting or Changing the Default Google Account for Multiple Sign In Users

  1. Go to any Google site (google.com, gmail.com, etc) in a non-private browser window (this is so that a cookie can bet set)
  2. Log out of any and all Google / Gmail accounts, this is done by clicking on your avatar icon in the upper right corner of a Google page and choosing “Sign Out” from the menu option
  3. Now go to Gmail.com, and log in with the account you want to set as the default or primary account – this is important, the first account you log into becomes the default when multiple sign ins are used
  4. Once you’re logged into the primary/default account, click on the avatar icon in the upper right corner of a Google page and choose “Add Account”
  5. Add the second, third, and any other Google accounts as necessary

Logging out can be done from anywhere in a Google web service:

Change the default Google account with multiple sign in

Again, be sure to log in to what you want as the default / primary account first. Then, you can add new accounts that you want to be other options available in the accounts menu.

Adding a new Google account to multiple user sign in

While logging out and back in to all accounts is obviously not difficult, it can be a little confusing, and a ‘set default’ option would really be a good way to alleviate any frustration there.

Once you are logged in with multiple Google accounts, remember that you can switch between them at any point from any G service like Gmail or apps, by clicking on your avatar and choosing the account to use. Additionally, some services will specifically ask for user input for which account to use for that service with a screen like so:

Switching Google accounts

I use this feature all the time to switch between my personal Gmail account and two work related gmail accounts. Once you get this setup properly, it’s much easier and preferable to logging out and back into different gmail addresses constantly, just set it up once, then select the account you want to access from the avatar menu for any given Google service, and you’re good to go with multiple logins.

For those who use the Chrome web browser, handling multiple accounts is managed a bit easier if you use the profile manager in Chrome, which is an experimental feature that must be enabled manually for the time being.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Tips & Tricks

3 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. E. Nelson says:

    Here is what I recommend, it’s a variation on this:

    On work computers: sign in only with your work Google account, do not use personal accounts at work computers or hardware. Have them on your personal iPhone or Android only.

    On home computers: sign in FIRST with your primary home account to set your default links for Gmail and web services, then your secondary home/personal account for logins and what have you

    THEN set up a unique USER ID on the HOME COMPUTER specifically for work – use that to log into the work Google account, do not log into your personal account from the work ID

    The reason I prefer that method is to keep work and personal separate, which as we all know is getting very difficult these days. For the longest time I had all of mine logged into my home computer, and you inevitably end up sending emails at odd hours when it’s not necessary, simply because you read it, see it, and the read receipt gets sent. Avoid that with a separate work account on your computer, stay sane.

  2. Ed Gonzalez says:

    Wow you know what? It’d be great to see more Google tips posted here. I think their services are tremendous.

    • Paul says:

      Good to know! I try to mix some Google, Gmail, and Android tips in sporadically if they are relevant to our readers. And yes I agree completely, Google has many amazing services.

Leave a Reply

 

Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on Amazon.com

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates