It’s unthinkable today to not be able to access Gmail or other Google services. But it does happen sometimes: you may forget the password, the phone number can be lost or become inactive, or the account may get hacked.
The following is a comprehensive guide on the steps that should be followed if you find yourself locked out of your Google account.
Set Up Your Google Account Recovery
To preclude a future locked-out situation, it is important to set up your Google account recovery details. There are two support agents: your recovery email and any attached phone number.
After signing in, go to the Security section in your “My Account” page and find the option which allows you to set up your recovery email. 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, 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 mostly online on Android, iPhone, or a tablet. However, it’s not mandatory to have a phone number with your Google account, as it can be easily removed.
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 an individual choice whether you want to keep the two-step verification off. It would be helpful if your phone is lost or stolen. Just having a recovery phone number is enough to prevent suspicious log-ins from unknown IP addresses.
You can sign out of any phones you’re no longer using 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 us examine various scenarios of being locked out of your Google account and how to regain access.
Scenario 1: Forgot Password + Your Phone Isn’t Nearby
If your forget your password and the phone isn’t nearby, click “Forgot password” in the Gmail sign-in page. Enter a previous password if you remember it. Otherwise, click “Try another way.”
The “Account recovery” page will be displayed next. If you have your recovery email at hand, click “Send” to receive a verification code.
Copy-paste the verification code received on your recovery email account.
Enter the verification code in the Account recovery page and click “Next.”
In 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 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 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.” Delete the lost or stolen device so that no one else can access your Google account even when they crack the screen lock.
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. (See Scenario 1 for the complete steps.)
In case you still have an attached phone number, you can use its text and call facility to regain access to the Google account. 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 will see a “couldn’t sign you in” screen.
Check Scenario 5 to be able to access a Google account in case your recovery email and phone numbers don’t work.
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.
You will have 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 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.
The same thing can happen to your Android phone. Learn how to avoid getting locked out of your Android device.