Most people I know have a personal Google account and the vast majority of clients I’ve worked with use Google for Business. This means throughout any given day, I need to manage multiple Google accounts and access inboxes, calendars, analytics, YouTube channels and Drives using different logins. I also use a different set of bookmarks and Chrome extensions depending on the job I’m doing. So how does someone manage all these different Google accounts without having to log in and out, getting confused or losing track of where everything is saved?
This is a question that was raised in one of my freelance writers’ groups on Facebook, so I thought I’d put my tech-support/tech-writer hat on and share my answer here as well, for all those other freelancers who can appreciate cool processes that help you hustle more efficiently. (Yep, you read that right: I think processes are cool).
The answer to your multiple-Google-accounts confusion is the little-known feature in Google Chrome, known as “Google Profiles“.
Use Google profiles to avoid signing in and out of multiple accounts
Say you access the same browser-based app (like Trello, Gmail or Twitter) with different logins. Instead of logging out each time you need to access those systems under for a different client or using a different account, Google’s Profile Management system lets you use the same browser using different Google logins, or “profiles”. It stores account-specific bookmarks, browsing history, browser extensions, plugins and passwords, and makes it easy to access these without logging in and out. Here’s an example of what your bookmarks look like when you own more than one account:
By adding different Google profiles to your browser, you can access your personal inbox and the files and photos from your personal Drive from one browser window, and seamlessly access the inbox, drives, calendars, analytics, and bookmarked websites of any of your other Google accounts in another.
Instead of wasting time signing in and out to access the same system, once you have profiles set up and open in different windows, you can toggle between your required websites or browser-based services using ⌘ + TAB.
Intrigued? Set it up for yourself (it takes less than 5 minutes!) and have a play around. (Thank me later when you realise how much time and confusion you’ve saved yourself).
Here’s how to set up Google profiles on your browser
- Launch Google Chrome
- Click People in the main menu
- Click Add Person…
- Sign in to one of your Google Accounts
- Pick an avatar or icon (if you already have a photo or logo associated with that Google account, you can select that one), give that profile a name, and click Save.
- Follow steps 1-5 for every Google Account you want easily accessible.
- Once you’re logged in, the profile you are currently using/signed into appears on the top right-hand corner of your browser window:
- To switch profiles, click the button on the right-hand side corner and list of available profiles will appear. Alternatively, click People in the menu bar, and you’ll find a list of your profiles available there too.
And that’s it! You can now access different accounts and services in just a few clicks.
Now, if you’re working on your own computer and need to access files on a Google Drive regularly and want to automate syncing or uploading those files to the cloud, then follow the next steps.
Pick one Google profile to sync to your personal computer
Because I need to access most of my freelance/business files on a regular basis, I chose my Google for Business account as the one where I automate file-syncing to the cloud on my Macbook Air.
Once you’ve made your choice, download Google Drive for your operating system, and sign in using those profile credentials.
If ever you have any files you access regularly from your personal account OR any of your other clients, instead of manually downloading/uploading those files multiple times, simply that folder with your nominated account and add that folder your Drive. Then access the Google Drive settings on your computer and make sure you’ve opted to sync that specific folder.
For example, I have a folder on my personal Google account with all my project home plans. Because we’re working on our new house almost every week and I’m editing the floor plans all the time, I’ve shared the folder containing the floor plans with my Google for Business account. I added that shared folder to my Google for Business Drive, and on my Mac, I’ve selected that folder as one of the many that sync to the cloud automatically. That means every time I update our floor plan, there is a copy of the latest version that syncs to the cloud.
And just like that, you have two tips to help you manage multiple accounts on one computer.
Hope that was helpful! If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear about them.