Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can't Sign In to Gmail Business and Personal Accounts at the Same Time? Here's the Fix

My company uses Gmail to power its internal email. This is incredibly useful because we don’t have to moderate our own mail system, and everyone’s using the same setup from within a browser. We can all stay signed in all day and send messages to each other, and we get to use our company’s domain name in our addresses instead of “”.

I also use my own personal email account because I don’t want to mix everything business-related and personal. This way my business account remains spam-free while my personal account—which is now my Google+ profile as well—can do its own thing.

I keep both of them open within the same browser window right next to each other so I can see emails come in on the tab all day long. This increases my productivity, multi-tasking, and allows me to keep up with both business and personal affairs instantaneously.

But then I came in this morning and I was signed out of my business account. Signing in sent me to a window that said this:

Your X@X account now works more like a full Google Account.

It then signed me out of my personal account. So I signed back in, and it said that I was already signed into the other, and gave me the option of switching accounts:

You are trying to access Gmail with the following Google Account:

However, you are already signed in as:

You can either cancel this request, or switch to a new Google Account to access Gmail.

This is not what I wanted to do. However, I had heard that you could could tweak a Gmail setting to allow signing in with multiple accounts, so I found that setting, enabled it, and figured I was in the clear. Not so. I’ve been having this problem all morning. As soon as I sign into one, the other signs out. Seems I can only have one or the other open at any point. Not a good move at all.

In order to get around this and have both accounts open at the same time, I had to use two different browsers, with one account open in each window. Fortunately, I have the monitor space to run them side-by-side, but not everyone has this option.

However, after messing around with it for quite a while and getting frustrated, I believe I’ve finally figured it out. I had to enable multiple sign-in on both accounts in order for them to work simultaneously. Here’s how to do it:

Complete these steps for all accounts that will be open simultaneously.
  1. Click your account name in the upper-right corner of the window and choose Account Settings.

  1. Under Security, there is a setting that says Multiple sign-in. If it says On, this account is set up already. If it says Off, click Edit.

  1. Click the radio button next to On and select all four checkboxes. Click Save.

    That’s all there is to it. If you’ve been having this problem, everything should be back to normal as soon as you change this setting on all your accounts.

    Google usually has their user’s experience in mind when they roll out new features, and they must acknowledge that many people want to keep their business and personal emails separate while keeping both open at the same time within the same browser. Hopefully soon they’ll figure out a way to make the two work in harmony a bit more efficiently.

    [UPDATE 7/16]: Google has apparently tried to defuse this situation a bit by auto-enabling the "multiple accounts" setting when signing into a second Gmail account. You need to have the feature enabled on a currently logged-in account for this to work, but when you reach the signup page, you'll be given this notice:

    Notice the line in red that says "Multiple sign-in will be turned on for the account you're signing in to." Hopefully this helps clear up the confusing alterations to this policy change. Just be aware that you're allowing Gmail to be signed in to two different accounts simultaneously, so don't get your accounts mixed up.


    1. AnonymousJuly 20, 2011

      What is tripping up a lot of people is that even if you turn on multiple account support on both accounts, if you logon to one account in one tab, open a second tab and go to gmail, on the logon page you'll need to click on switch accounts to logon to the second account.

      Alas, that link to switch accounts will log you off the first account. Look at the URL it goes to.

      The way around this is to go to the account menu in the upper right conner on the first tab where you are logged into the first account and click on the switch account link. This link will open a second tab where you can logon without being logged off from the first account.

      This is some pretty bad user experience design by Google.

    2. AnonymousJuly 27, 2011

      I used to be able to access both accounts in different windows up until today. (Don't u just love these changes they make that are for the worse rather for better?)
      I tried making the changes as mentioned above but it still doesn't work. I need to log-out from one account to go to the other.

    3. This has been annoying me every single day since the switch. If I sign out of one account, it automatically signs me out of the other and sends both tabs to the same standard Gmail signin page instead of one standard, one business.

      What I have to do is sign in to the standard Gmail address first, then switch to the other tab, type in the address to my business account signin page, and sign in that way. It's the only way I can get both to be logged in at the same time.