It’s unthinkable today to not be able to access Gmail or other Google services. But it can happen for so many reasons. You may forget the password, find your account hacked, or simply lose access to your recovery email or phone number. Occasionally you’ll be unable to access Google if the main smartphone device where you were signed in is damaged or stolen.
The following is a comprehensive guide on the steps that should be followed if you find yourself locked out of your Google account. We will also cover the best ways to avoid such a situation.
- Set Up Google Account Recovery
- Scenario 1: Forgot Password + Your Phone Isn't Nearby
- Scenario 2: Forgot Password + Your Phone Is Lost/Stolen
- Scenario 3: No Longer Have Access to Your Recovery Email
- Scenario 4: Forgot Username
- Scenario 5: The Best Option to Recover Google Account in Any Situation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Set Up Google Account Recovery
To preclude a locked-out situation in future, it is important to set up your Google account recovery details well ahead of time. There are two support agents: your recovery email and any attached phone number. You always need access to both. Follow all instructions below if you don’t wish to be locked out of Google account.
- After signing in, go to the Security section of your “My Account” page and find the option which allows you to set up your recovery email. Click the side arrows to access additional steps.
- After another round of signing in, you will see the following screen. Make sure you update the recovery email address, especially if the current one is something you don’t use much anymore.
Having access to a proper recovery email (provided you don’t forget access to that one either) is the simplest way to regain access to your Google account in any loss situation. You may use another Gmail address or Outlook, Hotmail, Zoho, Yahoo, Yandex, Protonmail, etc., as a safe backup.
- After clicking Next, you will be asked to verify your recovery email. You will receive a 6-digit code at the recovery email address. Enter the code in the applicable field.
After this verification, you will have to sign in with your Gmail password one more time. Now your recovery email address is ready for use.
From the Security section discussed above, you can also access the phone number associated with your Google account. This is a very important detail, especially if you are mostly online on an Android device, iPhone, or a tablet.
In the past, providing a phone number was optional and you could skip the requirement. Today, you will eventually get locked out of your Google account if you don’t provide one. The good thing is you can use any phone number as long as you have access to its SIM card.
If you are using a phone prompt or one-time password to sign in to Google, you can review the details here, too. It is up to individual choice whether you want to keep the two-step verification on. As your device can be damaged or stolen easily, not using your phone to sign in is smarter. Just having a recovery phone number is enough to prevent suspicious logins from unknown IP addresses.
Click the Edit button if you want to re-verify or change your recovery phone number.
Updating the recovery phone number is easy and doesn’t take too long. A verification code will be sent as SMS to your recovery phone number. You may also use a burner phone, which is recommended for privacy reasons, to receive the code.
Also, from the Google account’s Security section, you can access your lost phones using the “Find your phone” feature. Select any phone that you’re no longer using to erase its data from your Google account. This way, even if your lost phone falls into the wrong hands, the unauthorized person cannot use the device to access your Google account and apps.
Now that we’ve learned to set up Google account recovery, let us examine various scenarios of being locked out of your Google account and how to regain access.
For recovering access to your account using the instructions below, use a desktop browser.
Scenario 1: Forgot Password + Your Phone Isn’t Nearby
- Click “Forgot password?” on the Gmail sign-in page.
- The “Account recovery” page will be displayed next. A verification code will be sent automatically. Keep your recovery email at hand.
- Copy the Google verification code received on your recovery email account and paste it into the requisite field on the “Account recovery” page as shown above. Then click “Next.”
- On the next screen, you will have the option to create a new password. Make sure it’s a strong one and that you store it somewhere safe.
After a simple security checkup, you will regain access to your Google account.
- Follow through the recommended actions for sign-in and recovery indicated by a colored exclamation mark (!). It mainly requires you to confirm your recovery email and phone numbers once.
Scenario 2: Forgot Password + Your Phone Is Lost/Stolen
Google recommends using the screen lock for phones that are permanently invalid. However, the best way to invalidate a lost or stolen phone is to remove any trace of it from your device history.
- To do this, first follow the above steps to regain access to your account from a recovery email.
- Then go to the “Security” section in the “My account” page and select “Manage devices.”
- Sign out from the lost or stolen device so that no one else can access your Google account even when they crack the screen lock.
- You may see a message that “some apps still may have access” to your Google account. To revoke access, click “Manage app access.”
- Check the third-party apps with access to your Google account. Remove the ones you no longer need.
Scenario 3: No Longer Have Access to Your Recovery Email
In case you forgot to update your recovery email (or no longer have access), it becomes a little more difficult to regain access to your Google account. However, there is still a way.
- First, reach the account recovery page as shown here. This can be accessed from the “Forgot password” link during login.
- Instead of typing the last password you remember, click “Try another way.”
- In the next step, a prompt to enter the latest email verification code will show up. But since you don’t have access to that recovery email, you must click “Try another way.”
- In case you still have an attached phone number, you can use its text or call facility to regain access to the Google account and skip the remaining steps. But if you don’t have the phone any longer, click “I don’t have my phone.”
- In the Account recovery section, Google will ask you to provide an alternative email to contact you later.
- The alternative email address will receive a Google verification code.
- Go to the Account recovery section and enter the code.
If the alternative email account was never associated with any Google services attached to the primary account, you may see a “couldn’t sign you in” screen.
Scenario 4: Forgot Username
Did you forget your Google username? Go to the user recovery email link and get the details of the username from the “Find your email” section.
- Enter your recovery email or phone number in the required field.
- Enter your first and last name as associated with the primary account.
- The verification code will be sent to a recovery email address. Use it to retrieve your username.
Scenario 5: The Best Option to Recover Google Account in Any Situation
Even in the worst situation, Google has a final, default, fail-safe mechanism to verify your identity and return you to using your account. It’s called Google One, a little-known paid Google service. You can set up a pro chat session and talk to someone from the Google team to help you regain access to the account.
The only caveat is that you have to be signed in to access the Google One service. But it supports multiple emails, so if you use any one of them to sign in, you can always talk to a chat rep and never be locked out of your Google account again.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a Google account locked?
The prevention of Google account access can last anywhere from 20-30 minutes to up to 48 hours. To prevent such a situation, always keep a recovery email and phone number handy at Google’s “My Account -> Security” page.
Can I reach Google Support by email/phone for my account recovery?
Depending on where you live, you may have access to Google Support. Currently it supports phone access for a limited umber of countries. Whether or not you’re able to gain access to your account again depends on if you have access to supporting documents such as screenshots. It does help to be a paid user of Google services such as Google One, YouTube, or Gmail for Business.
How to prevent being locked out of Google account automatically?
When Google detects suspicious activity, it may automatically lock a user out of their account. This happens when you clear the cache and cookies after each session, sign out remotely, or sign in from a strange location (usually due to VPN access). To prevent being automatically locked out, avoid trying to sign in too many times, and always remain logged in to Google on at least one device.
Image credit: Pexels
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