Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

Summary: Google's lack of account flexibility needs to change.

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I use a lot of Google services and I respect the company and its products. Last month, for example, I ran a very long series of how-tos for getting the most out of Google Voice. That said, I do not use Gmail as my primary email account and have been regularly snafu'd when trying to manage my various Google accounts.

It's really starting to irritate me.

<RANT>

Today, I tried to set up a new YouTube account. I gave YouTube my email address, only to be told the email address in question had been previously tied to another YouTube account -- one I'd created last year for my book, How To Save Jobs. Because the YouTube account HowToSaveJobs was tied to my email address, I can't use that email address with any other account, including a YouTube channel of just my own videos.

The thing is, the HowToSaveJobs YouTube channel is meant to be operated by the nonprofit the book is associated with. I'd like to let someone else in the organization be able to upload videos and maintain the account. But because the HowToSaveJobs account is tied permanently to my personal email address, I can't make that change.

I'd have to give a nonprofit volunteer the email address and password of my personal email account, just so they could upload videos. And that ain't ever going to happen!

This sort of thing has happened in other areas of Google Accounts.

I once created a simple mail tracking account, but -- prudently -- Google asked for a backup email address in case I couldn't log in. So I gave Google my personal email address for that, as well. Now, my email address is associated with that barely used (and weirdly named) Gmail account and I can't reassign it.

Now, it's entirely possible I'm missing a trick or Google changed its procedures and there is a way to reassign email addresses and consolidate accounts. I haven't found a way, and from the many discussion board postings I've read, it doesn't look like Google offers any form of account management.

I can't begin to tell you how many random Google accounts I have for various things that I'd like to consolidate, normalize, and make sane.

While it's always possible to just open up yet another Google account, that's not a best practice approach. More to the point, this may be holding back some migrations to Google services.

I currently have my main email account on a hosted Exchange server and I'd love to move to Gmail. But until I can be sure I can control my accounts, manage them, and not have them tied to historical detritus, I'm not making that move.

I am not alone with this problem.

I got an email recently from a colleague, a woman who registered all her accounts with her married name, went though an acrimonious divorce, and still has to use her ex-husband's last name on her Google accounts because she can't change them back to her own last name. It makes her crazy and since she's now doing professional business under her own name, it confuses everyone she works with.

She tells me that although she'd prefer to forget the tougher times in her life, because her email last name doesn't match her real last name, she's forced to recount her divorce story to almost anyone she gives her email address to. Apparently, now that she's active on Google Plus, it's even more annoying.

So here's what I'd like to see Google do.

I'd like to be able to assign and reassign email addresses to various account names. I'd like to be able change account names. I'd like to be able to consolidate accounts, so if I have three of a similar account, I can combine them into one. In short, I'd like to have comprehensive account management for my Google accounts.

I don't have any insight into why Google doesn't make account management easy and account renaming possible. One reason might be that it has indexed all transactions based on the account name string. If that's the case, well, that's not exactly a best programming practice.

I certainly don't know if that's why Google is restrictive about renaming accounts, but if that is the reason, something will almost undoubtedly break in the future because name-based indexing often breaks.

In any case, consider this an open plea to the wizards of the Googleplex. C'mon guys, make it possible for us to manage our accounts better. Please? Pretty please, with sugar on top?

</RANT>

Topics: Google, Collaboration

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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46 comments
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  • I agree totally!

    I don't think there is a patent already taken for good account management, come on Google.
    recurvebowyer
  • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

    Google irritated me a long time ago.
    LoverockDavidson
  • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

    I agree 100%. Worst, I cannot find the reason behing this behavior. Or is it as simple as not being capable to manage this?
    hnc434
  • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

    I agree with this 100% I use many of googles features and recently closed an account that had my 15 year old no longer useful email address associated with it. I attempted to update my google account to new addy No Dice. Not sure what will happen now if they attempt to contact / verify me with that address.
    jstraughn
  • Typical

    Grab some good young programmers, let them write a cool system. Discover that it's actually quite a good idea. Market it. Then realise that you should have let an experienced systems analyst spec it before you promoted it as ready for the big time.

    All of Google's offerings seem to lack this. Just like Microsoft's cruddy applications written by bright young programmers with zero business experience. At least Google tags the word Beta onto it. Beta is Latin for "it still doesn't work properly."

    Reminds me of the two methods of program development.

    The fast method: Ready, fire, aim.
    The slow method: Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, fire.

    That's when you plan your software. Nothing wrong with getting to market fast, but if you decide that you have something, then sit down and re-write it properly - by spec'ing it first. You probably got a really good idea of how to do it right, simply by writing it the first time.

    Why two of the biggest software companies around don't grok this has me flummoxed.
    igmac
  • Edit your name

    Uh, right... you can't edit your name? WRONG, found this page 2 clicks away from my gmail account.... Please do a minimum research instead of just inane ranting.

    https://www.google.com/accounts/UpdateUserInfo
    luch3
    • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

      @luch3
      This is nice but almost all of the <rant> items cannot be addresses here.
      rhonin
    • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

      @luch3
      I have 12 email addresses all associated to one gmail account, I can send an email from any of those accounts by logging into one gmail account, and most of them are gmail accounts. I set this up because I moved frequently, and often when I moved I changed ISP's and lost access to my previous accounts. Even worse, if you move "regions" with Time Warner and/or your account number changes and you lose your email account. Tech support told me after 30-90 days the account name would be released to the public and ANYONE could claim it! Not cool! I had banks and paypal associated with my email account, I didn't want anyone being able to get my email account, what about someone pretending to be me? everyone I knew would think an email from that ID would be from me and trustworthy (to an extent.. :P ) I had a Yahoo account, but was not happy with them, I had a mail.com account, but too many ads slowed my connections, I had a hotmail account, but too much spam and chat invites from pharmacies and Russian mail order brides, so I went with google and never looked back.
      aiellenon
  • In Soviet Russia

    In Soviet Russia, Account takes care of Google.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

      @facebook@... [b]+1[/b]
      ROTFLAO!!!!!!!
      rhonin
  • Choice of GMail address is permanent too

    Not only the tie of a Google account to an existing (non-Google) email account is permanent.
    The choice of GMail address is permanent too - even if you remove GMail from the account, so the address would be non-existent.

    Many years ago I tried GMail, and removed it again.
    Now I cannot choose any other address than the one I selected back then.
    Nor is that address available to any other Google account.
    Ridiculous!
    pj.de.bruin
  • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

    Doh... You should have already known that the design of most account-driven web sites using databases will only let you use one email address per account. Were you out of important things to write about?
    brianscook
  • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

    You get what you pay for. Simple, really.
    kstap
  • Thanks, David. You made my day!

    As one of the three people in the universe who don't have a Google account, I'm smiling. Life is good!
    Userama
    • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

      @Userama +1; make that four!
      tom@...
  • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

    I have a Google account...can't login, can't get into it, can't change it, can't make a new one...$%&*@#
    CowLauncher
    • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

      @CowLauncher what about password recovery? That's why when you sign up you give an alternative NON-GMAIL email address that you have access to, and a password recovery question, so that in the event you can't get in to your gmail account, you can recover your password by either of these two methods. If you haven't safeguarded your access to your own account then you can't really blame Google. Of course you are not going to be able to create a NEW gmail account with the same email address, you need to recover your old account. Otherwise anyone could come along and hammer anyone's email address. Doesn't make a lot of sense!
      pitdroidtech
  • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

    I do not like GMail. Full stop.
    PackingPadre
  • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

    Possibly silly question, but has your divorced friend ever considered Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, or her ISP provided e-mail?

    I will admit I never tried G-Mail, even when it was new & the hottest invite in town. As soon as I heard about the bots scanning your mail to furnish ads, I decided it wasn't for me. Plus, I don't like web-based mail (but that's just me).
    StPatrick56
    • RE: Google's complete lack of account flexibility is really starting to irritate me

      @StPatrick56

      I've found live mail and services are superior to Google's and you can change/manage everything. GFail
      audidiablo