Gmail login: Something new users need to know

August 29, 2010

If you are a new Gmail user who just switched  from Yahoo or another web-based email service and are having trouble logging in to your Gmail account,  here’s a simple thing to check:  Make sure that you are entering just the first part (before the @) of your Gmail address in the “username” box, NOT the whole address (including “gmail.com”). That is, if your new Gmail address is “testy123@gmail.com” just enter “testy123” as shown here:

Gmail login box

Yes, that’s right; even though the instructions right below the box seem to suggest that you should add “gmail.com”.     This instruction actually applies ONLY to Google users whose accounts are linked to a NON-Gmail address (yes, you CAN have a Google account linked to any email address but if you are a new Gmail user this isn’t your concern at the moment. )

Google added this “ex” to the login in an apparent attempt to help users with such non-Gmail addresses, in the process seriously confusing some new Gmail users.

This confusion is compounded for users who are switching from Yahoo mail to Gmail because Yahoo DOES require users to enter their whole Yahoo address at login.

I realized how confusing this can be a few days ago, when I was trying to help a friend who is switching to Gmail from Yahoo mail . We were trying to figure out why, after many, many attempts, she was unable to login to two new Gmail accounts– one personal, another for a small organization she manages.   She thought it might have something to do with her passwords, or with  trying to use two accounts in one browser  and –because multiple logins in  the same browser can cause problems– we tried to troubleshoot that before stumbling on the simple solution: Because she was used to the Yahoo login routine –and because Google seemed to suggest it right in the login box– she’d been unsuccessfully trying to use her whole Gmail address as a user name.

Not at all a dumb mistake– and one Google should try to remedy.

In my experience,  getting new users smoothly logged in to their accounts is more than half the battle in getting them to use, and become comfortable with,  web-based services.      Login to  Google services –Gmail, Google docs, Google Groups, etc.– seems to be particularly fraught for many people,   despite  —or because of— the fact that Google has tried to simplify  things by allowing people to use their existing, non-Gmail, addresses to access other all the other services. Add to that the reality that many people have multiple email accounts, work and personal, and troubleshooting login problems with shared Google docs or Google Groups can become quite labyrinthian.  Luckily this particular problem has a simple fix.

UPDATE 10/6/2010:  The login process has become even more confusing at the moment,  perhaps because Google is in the process of making some changes to Google Apps (business and organization) accounts.   The usual Google login screen is not consistently being shown, my advice if your Google address ends in “gmail.com”  is to first try logging in as above, and then try using the whole address WITH  the @gmail.com

Filed under: Google services

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