Got more than one Gmail account? If you haven’t used it in a while, it’s in jeopardy

Photo (c) Surasak Suwanmake - Getty Images

Don’t know how many Google accounts you have? Here’s how to find out.

If you have more than one Gmail account, you might want to take a look at the one you use least because it could disappear. Google is going on a cleaning spree and deleting Gmail accounts it considers to be just taking up space.

The average person has 1.9 Gmail accounts. It might not be surprising that people tend to get lazy with their secondary accounts when it comes to reusing passwords and security like two-factor authentication.

Google has to deal with more than a billion superfluous email accounts and with nuisances like spam, account hijacking, security threats, and phishing scams going after all of those, Google's action shouldn't be a surprise.

Who’s getting cut and when

If you haven’t used or signed into a Google account in two years, everything tied to that email address is at risk. And when we say everything, we mean everything — Gmail, Docs, Meet, Calendar, and even Google Photos.

However, this policy change only applies to personal Google Accounts, and will not affect accounts for organizations like schools or businesses.

Google is giving everyone some breathing room, so don’t throw yourself into a tizzy, yet. The earliest Google will begin deleting accounts is December 2023.

“We will take a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created and never used again,” Ruth Kricheli, vice president, Product Management, said.

“Before deleting an account, we will send multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email if one has been provided.”

How to keep your account active

Despite having about six months to pull the trigger on older accounts, it would be wise to go on and do it, now, so you don’t have to worry about it for another two years. You should probably set up a ping on your main account’s calendar so you don’t run the risk the next time the Google cleaning crew comes a-knocking.

Finding all your extra accounts can be easy if you only have a couple of those. Google suggests going to that account by clicking on the profile icon to the right of the address bar in Chrome (it’s a circle), logging into that profile, and then do one of the following:

  • Reading or sending an email

  • Using Google Drive

  • Watching a YouTube video

  • Downloading an app on the Google Play Store

  • Using Google Search

  • Using Sign in with Google to sign in to a third-party app or service

If you have an existing subscription set up through your Google account, for example to Google One, a news publication or an app, Google also considers this account activity, and your account will not be impacted. Oh, yeah – the company does not have plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos, at least not now.

Don't know how many Google accounts you have?

If you've had a number of side hustles and wanted special emails or, had something else going on on the side, you might not remember all the Google accounts you have.

As ConsumerAffairs found out, if you have more than a few accounts, all of those might not show up in the account profile. At that point, it requires a little extra work to identify all of those with the key element being looking up your accounts by using your telephone number, not your email address.

Rather than explain the process in a step-by-step fashion, it might be easier to follow the instructions on this YouTube video. Remember, the key is to use your phone number.

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