Set the Default Google Account for Multiple Gmail Account Users
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
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- 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”
- Add the second, third, and any other Google accounts as necessary
Logging out can be done from anywhere in a Google web service:
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.
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:
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.