If you’re as devoted to all things Google as many of us on Team ProfHacker, you might find yourself using many different free services that Google provides, including its email, calendar, RSS reader, and more. So it might be logical for you to look to Google’s services if you find yourself organizing an event or representing an organization but don’t want to go through the trouble of hosting your own website. After all, Google’s tools are pretty simple, powerful, and—did I mention this?—free. Google makes it easy to create a new account in just a few minutes, giving your conference its own email address. You might even choose to create different accounts for work- and hobby-related calendaring and email.
Although it’s been easy to create multiple Google accounts, there’s been a pretty significant downside until recently: you could only be signed into one account at a time within your web browser. If you wanted to switch between your personal email account and, say, the account for the incredibly exciting and cool conference you’re helping to organize, you would have to sign out of the first account and then sign into the next. Not only does this take time (all right, so it’s not a TON of time…), but if you want to refer to something from one account while working within the other, you will either have to become a master of copy and paste, screenshots, or memory. One workaround to this problem that I have used in the past is to have multiple browsers open. That works fine, although it can affect your computer’s performance. Another workaround was to have all your accounts’ email sent to and from one Gmail account, something that Amy and I discussed last year. But this approach doesn’t help you with services like Calendar, Reader, or Sites.
At the beginning of August, however, Google announced that its users could start signing into multiple accounts at once. The process is simple and will probably take you less than two minutes to complete. Simply visit your Google account page and click on the “Edit” next to Multiple Sign-In.
You will then be taken to a page, where Google warns you that this is an “advanced feature” and has some limitations.
For one thing, it doesn’t yet work with every Google service, including Picasa or Blogger. If you start using those services, you will be using whichever account is your default. Second, using multiple sign-in disables your ability to use Gmail and Google Calendar offline. If this is a feature that you’ve come to count on, you should weigh the pros and cons of enabling multiple sign-in. And finally, one must simply be aware of which account one is logged into when writing emails or adding events to a calendar so as to prevent misplaced data.
If you can choose to enable multiple Google accounts, you simply click the “On” radio button, put a check mark in each of the boxes, and then click “Save” at the bottom of the page. You’ll be able to tell that your account now supports multiple sign-ins because the account name in the upper right corner will now be followed by a small blue triangle.
When you click on this triangle, you will be given the option to sign into another account.
Clicking this link takes you to a sign-in page, where you choose one of your other accounts.
Once you’ve signed in with that account, you’ll be able to see them both when you click on the blue arrow.
At the moment, you are only allowed to be signed-in to three different accounts at any one time. If you want to recompose the accounts you’re working with, you simply sign-out of an account, sign-in again. You will then be able to choose which accounts you will sign-in to.
All in all, it’s a very simple process for working between multiple accounts. If you love working in different Google accounts but don’t want to be running multiple browsers, this is a very handy development.
Do you use multiple Google accounts on a regular basis? Will this tool help improve your work flow?
[Image by Flickr user angela n. / Creative Commons licensed]