Life must be easy if you have just one Google account. It must be nice to store all of your data and digital ephemera to a single Chrome profile. The sad truth, however, is that many of us juggle several accounts. We have our personal account and often another for work. There’s also the family account, that Gmail account for junk mail, and maybe another left over from your days in college.
There are dozens of different browsers in the Google Play Store, but none compare with Chrome. Sure, Microsoft Edge has its benefits and Firefox is an awesome open source alternative, but there’s a reason people use Chrome: it’s simple and seamlessly integrates with other Google services. It’s also automatically installed on most Android phones.
Coordinating data between multiple accounts is easy—or at least it’s fast enough to switch between them. Chrome’s mobile browser is the glaring exception.
Some of the 30+ Google apps installed on my phone don’t require a login, but many do. Many apps that require a Gmail account, let you change accounts with a quick tap on your profile icon. Even better, they all let you swipe up or down to instantly move between accounts —a gesture that started showing up in 2019 and has since spread to most Google apps.
Although the account change gesture works in Gmail and many other Google services, it’s missing from the Chrome mobile app. Likely because anyone using multiple accounts silos their Chrome information specific profiles . Take me for example:
- My personal account is for the obvious. I use my personal account to browse the internet, sign into services, and save my favorite sites.
- My Android Police Workspace is all about business. Its the place where I conduct work-related searches, save important bookmarks, and store login credentials.
- My joint Google account is for the things I share with my husband. You’ll find our favorite sites, travel bookmarks, service logins, and joint payment info in this account.
When I use the Chrome browser on my computer, I can switch between my different accounts in a snap. Everything is exactly where I expect it, and is carefully separated. It not only keeps thing tidy, but also helps maintain work-life balance.
Things aren’t as straightforward on my Chromebook, since there are some key differences between the Chrome web browser and Chrome OS. Fortunately, all hope is not lost, thanks to this multiple account method trick that keeps my data separate.
But switching accounts on the Chrome mobile app is a hassle on my Android and iPad. Unlike other apps, it wants me to sign out of my “default account” before I can login with another Gmail account. That means that all my bookmarks, history, reading list, passwords, payments, or address details are missing unless I go through multiple steps every single time. It also means that checking open tabs on my other computers or sending a tab from my computer to my phone doesn’t work unless I switch to the appropriate account.
There are several workarounds, but none are good:
- On both Android and iOS/iPadOS, I could start my browsing from the Google app instead of Chrome, and keep the ability to switch accounts as needed. Accessing my history and bookmarks is not easy with this workaround.
- On Android only, I can install Google Chrome Stable, Beta, Dev, and Canary and sign into a different Google account on each build. But I’m using a potentially unstable browser a few of my accounts with this method. I also have to think about the exact app I need to open each time I want to browse.
- I could use a different web browser like Microsoft Edge, but I’d have to import all of my Google Chrome data.
Life should be fast and easy on mobile, but somehow the Chrome app makes things more complicated. How difficult would it be to update the Chrome app so people can easily use a second account? If Google Maps, Google Home, GPay, and Google Drive can support quick switching, there’s no reason that Chrome shouldn’t have the feature as well.
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