Combining Google Accounts

Somehow over the last few years I have acquired two Google accounts. One of them is associated with my Gmail email address and the other is associated with my address. Recently I heard that the G1 phone ties itself to a single Google account when you activate it, so if I’n going to get a G1[1] then I need to combine them as far as I can.

This has proved to be a bit of a battle. And as it gives an interesting insight to how Google’s tools aren’t quite as integrated as they would like you to think they are, I thought I’d write up my experiences so far.

My first approach was to find some way to just merge  the two accounts. That would have been great – just take the data from both accounts and combine it. But there wasn’t an option to do that. I could add other email addresses to my account, but they explicitly stop you from adding Gmail accounts. So I was left with trying to combine things a product at a time. I decided that I wanted to move everything over to the Gmail account.

Google Calendar
I’ve been using Google Calendar a lot recently. But it was on the account. So I wanted to move control of that calendar to my Gmail account. That proved to be impossible. I could give the Gmail account complete access rights to the calendar, but I couldn’t give it ownership. In the end I exported the calendar to a .ics file and imported it into the other account.

Google Docs
I have a number of documents in Google Docs. As with Calendar, it’s easy enough to give another account complete rights to access and update you documents. And, even better, there’s a new feature to transfer ownership of documents to another account. There’s a rather scary-looking warning that you can only transfer ownership to another account from the same domain, but that didn’t seem to be a problem as I was able to transfer documents from my account to my Gmail account. Well, I could transfer some of my documents. For some reason, thsi feature isn’t currently supported for spreadsheets. So I hav a bout a dozen spreadsheets that are still owned by the wrong account. I suppose I can download them as OpenOffice files and then recreate then in the other account. But it seems rather a roundabout approach.

Google Analytics
This worked well. I could add another account as an adminstrator of my Google Analytics account. And then that account could remove access from the original account. If only all the transfers were as simple as this one.

Google Adwords
I have a couple of small ad campaigns running through Google Adwords. This transfer was supposed to be simple. You can replace the owning Google account with another Google account. Except, apparently, my Gmail account was already the owner of another Adwords account. This might be to do with the connection between Adwords and Analytics. Anyway, I just closed down the old account and opened a new one.

Google Adsense
This is the one that it’s most important to get right. I don’t want to lose any money from my Adsense account. And I’d really like to hold on to all of the historical data from the existing account. I can’t see any way to transfer control to another account, so currently I’m thinking that I might have to keep the old account open. If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it.

Google Maps
Trivial but annoying. I’ve got a map stored in Google Maps (it’s the one on my Livery Companies site). As with Calendar, I can share it with the other account but I can’t actually transfer ownership (as far as I can see). It would only tak an hour or so ot recreate it, but it’s annoying to have to take that time.

Google Groups
Another slightly annoying one. I can obviously unsubscribe from all of my groups and resubscribe from Gmail (there are only eleven of them). But then I’d get the mail in Gmail and I’d really rather that it continued going to I suppose what I’d like to do is to make another email address the main address on the old account, then move the address into the Gmail account. I haven’t looked to see if you can do that yet. Something to try this evening. [Update: I’ve just looked. It seems you can’t remove the primary email address on an account]

Having so many linked services run by one company is supposed to make life easier. But having battled with this over the last couple of weeks, it’s clear that these services aren’t as closely linked as you think they are.

I wonder what proportion of Google’s customers have multiple accounts, and how many of them have tried to correct that. I bet most of them just give up.

If anyone has any stories about this (or, even better, inside information) I’d love to hear them.

[1] Actually, having had experiences similar to Nik’s it’s becoming less and less likely that I’ll get a G1. But I still think this is a useful exercise.


  1. Interestingly, I too was difficult to combine the accounts, a situation not only in Google, and the Russian too.

  2. It is unbelievable that Google STILL 2 years later has not addressed this rather critical issue. I am convinced the situation is much worse now than in 2009.

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