Gmail and Android Users: Save Yourself Heartache


Image by www_slon_pics from Pixabay

This post is inspired by a dear friend who forgot her password to login to her Gmail account. With the number of usernames and passwords we need to keep, I can see this happening to anyone, including myself.

Under normal circumstances, the password retrieval process is painless. Click on the “Forgot Password” link and a new password is sent via email or text. This is a great service if you have a second email address setup within Google’s system or have a phone number that can receive texts.

But what if you changed cell phone number, don’t have a back email address, and didn’t update the information in your profile of your Google Account?

The short answer is that unless you remember a past password (any password you ever used), you can’t get into your Gmail account. Ever. You’ll need to create a new Gmail account.

If you use Gmail as your primary email, this probably made you panic.

Let me explain. If you own an Android phone, chances are you have a Gmail account tied to your cell phone (even if you don’t use Google’s email service). Your Gmail address (e.g. name@gmail.com) acts as your primary account for everything. It gives you the ability to check your email on your phone (if you want), download apps in Google play, use Google maps, use Google Calendar, store photos on Google Drive, and many other services. This is convenient because it allows you to access these areas with one account.

To make these features secure and less prone to someone getting into your account, there is a verification process Google uses to identify you are who you say you are. It uses a combination of your cellphone number, a backup email address, and your location.

Save Yourself Heartache!

If you read this and have no idea if your Google Account has your current phone number and a backup email, doing the steps below will save you a lot of heartache. The last thing you want to do is spend hours hoping to recover everything (contacts, photos, and files) from your account that you can’t get into. You can update this information using your computer or cellphone.

For Computer Users (PC or Mac)

  • Login to your Gmail account (any Google service will work).
  • Once you are logged in, click on the circle with the first letter of your name on the upper right-hand side of your screen.
  • A drop down menu will appear. Click on Manage your Google Account.
  • When the new window or tab opens, click on Security.
  • This page shows you the current information that Google has for contacting/verifying you. Scroll down to the section titled, “Ways we can verify it’s you.” (See screenshot below.)
  • Make sure that the correct recovery phone number and a backup email are displayed. If not, add or change them as needed.
  • Once these are updated, you may want to turn on the 2-step verification for enhanced security.

For Cellphone Users

The steps below may also work for an iPhone, but I couldn’t test this. So the instructions are for an Android phone.

  • Swipe down and tab on the Settings icon (the one that looks like a gear).
  • Scroll down to Google in the settings menu.
  • Tap on “Manage your Google Account.”
  • Near the top of your screen, you’ll see “tabs” labeled, Home, Personal Info, Data & privacy. Swipe over until you see “Security.” Tap on, “Security.”
  • The next screen shows you the current information Google has for contacting/verifying you. Scroll down to the section titled, “Ways we can verify it’s you.”
  • Make sure the correct recovery phone number and a backup email are displayed. If not, add or change them as needed.
  • Once these are updated, you may want to turn on the 2-step verification for enhanced security. (If this isn’t already turned on.)

Checking and updating this information takes less than ten minutes. For some reason, getting a new cellphone number doesn’t update the contact number automatically. This is where my friend got into trouble.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to have your Gmail password stored in a password manager like LastPass and on paper (like an old address book, small notebook, or index card file). Yes, paper is antiquated in our nearly paperless world, but so far I’ve found paper the most reliable because I don’t need to remember a password to open a notebook.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to here from you. You can email me or comment below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *