It is unthinkable today not to be able to access Gmail or other Google services. But sometimes it happens: you may forget the password, the phone number may be lost or become inactive, or the account may be hacked.
The following is a complete guide on what to do if you find yourself locked out of your Google Account.
Configure your Google Account recovery
To avoid a future lockdown situation, it is important to configure your Google Account recovery details. There are two support agents: your recovery email and any attached phone number.
After logging in, go to security in your “My Account” page and look for the option that allows you to configure your recovery email. After another login cycle, you will see the following screen. Make sure to update the recovery email address, especially if you don’t use the current address much anymore.
Having access to an appropriate recovery email (as long as you don’t forget to access that one either) is the easiest way to regain access to your Google Account in any lost situation. You can use other Gmail or Outlook, Zoho, Yahoo, Yandex, Protonmail, etc. as a safe backup.
In the same section, you can also access your phone number associated with the Google account. This is a very important detail, especially if you are mainly online on Android, iPhone or tablet. However, it is not mandatory to have a phone number with your Google account as it can be easily deleted.
If you’re using a phone prompt or one-time password to sign in to Google, you can also see the details here. It’s an individual choice if you want to turn off two-step verification. It would be useful if your phone is lost or stolen. Just having a recovery phone number is enough to avoid suspicious connections from unknown IP addresses.
You can log out of any phones you no longer use from “Find your phone”. This way, even if they fall into the wrong hands, the unauthorized person cannot use the device to access your Google account and apps.
Let’s take a look at different scenarios for locking your Google Account and how to regain access to them.
Scenario 1: Forgot password + your phone is not nearby
If you forget your password and the phone is not nearby, click “Forgot Password” on the Gmail login page. Enter an old password if you can remember it. Otherwise, click on “Try another way”.
The “Account recovery” page will then appear. If you have your recovery email ready, click “Send” to receive a verification code.
Copy and paste the verification code received on your recovery email account.
Enter the verification code on the account recovery page and click “Next”.
In the next screen, you will have the option to create a new password. Make sure it is sturdy and that you store it in a safe place.
After a simple security review, you will regain access to your Google Account.
Scenario 2: Forgot password + Your phone is lost / stolen
Google recommends using the screen lock for permanently disabled phones. However, the best way to invalidate a lost or stolen phone is to delete all traces of it from your device history.
To do so, first follow the steps above to regain access to your account from a recovery email, then navigate to the “Security” section of the “My Account” page and select ” Manage devices ”. Remove the lost or stolen device so that no one else can access your Google Account even if it cracks the screen lock.
Scenario 3: You no longer have access to your recovery email
In the event that you forgot to update your recovery email (or if you no longer have access to it), it becomes a little more difficult to regain access to your Google Account. However, there is still a way. First, go to the account recovery page as shown here. (See Scenario 1 for the complete steps.)
In case you still have a phone number associated, you can use its text and call feature to regain access to the Google account. But if you no longer have the phone, click on “I don’t have my phone”.
In the Account Recovery section, Google will ask you to provide an alternate email address to contact you later.
The alternate email address will receive a Google verification code.
Go to the Account Recovery section and enter the code.
If the alternate email account has never been associated with a Google service associated with the primary account, an “Unable to sign in” screen appears.
Check scenario 5 to be able to access a Google account in case your recovery email address and phone numbers are not working.
Scenario 4: Forgotten username
Did you forget your Google username? Go to user recovery email link and get the details of the username in the “Find your email” section.
You will need to enter your first and last name associated with the account.
The verification code will be sent to a recovery email address.
Scenario 5: The best option to recover Google account in any situation
Even in the worst-case scenario, Google has one last default security mechanism to verify your identity and allow you to use your account. It’s called Google One, a little-known Google paid service. You can set up a professional chat session and talk to someone from the Google team to help you regain access to the account.
The only caveat is that you must be signed in to access the Google One service. But it does support multiple emails, so if you use one of them to log in, you can always speak to a chat rep and never get kicked out of your Google account again.
The same can happen to your Android phone. Find out how to avoid being locked on your Android device.
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