What Happens if Two People Sign on to the Same Gmail Account?


Email providers like Gmail can find themselves trapped between offering security and convenience. With many people accessing their Gmail account from both computers and mobile devices, it's entirely possible to be signed in to a single Gmail account from multiple locations, leaving the provider to walk a fine line between clamping down on suspicious activity and allowing convenient access. Gmail handles this by allowing you to keep an eye on who has been logging into your Gmail account.

Gmail Account Access

  • Gmail is designed with the single user in mind, but there are situations where multiple people may need to access an account. Whether it's a shared family account, a business or club address, or leaving your account signed in at home while your mobile device is also signed in, there are legitimate reasons for a Gmail account to be accessed by multiple people -- even simultaneously. As a result, Google won't block multiple log ins to a Gmail account, but they do provide a way to see who has been logging in and will notify you if they feel there has been suspicious activity.

Checking Account Activity

  • To see a list of log in and access information, scroll to the bottom of your Gmail inbox. On the bottom right is a line of text indicating the time the last account activity took place and a link that says "Details." Clicking the link brings up a window that shows recent activity on the account, including the type of access -- browser, mobile, POP and IMAP. It also displays the IP address used to access the account and approximate location (to the state level), as well as the time the access took place. If a location or IP address seems unfamiliar, you can enter the IP address into a Whois lookup (link in Resources) to get more information about it.

Preventative Password Maintenance

  • If Google warns you of suspicious activity, or you suspect it based on the activity you see on the account, change your password immediately. Choose a strong password that includes a special character (punctuation), is at least eight characters long, a mix of capital and lowercase letters, and does not contain common words (such as your login name) or easily guessed numbers (such as your birth date).

Adding Additional Protection

  • To prevent logins from unknown devices and locations, enable two-step verification on your Gmail account. This requires you to enter a one-time-use confirmation code sent to your phone in addition to your password when you log into Gmail from a new computer or device. If this is a device that will regularly be used to access the account, you have the option for Gmail to remember that particular computer, so you will not have to enter the extra access code again.

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