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What having a Google account is all about

Obviously there’s gmail, their renowned email service, but that barely scratches the surface. Google Drive, or Workspace, depending on which name Google eventually settles on, has all the features of Microsoft Office.

The difference between Drive and Office

The main difference is Drive files, documents, sheets and slides etc, are created and stored online, therefore accessible from any device with an internet connection. Similar to Office 365, but totally free and lacking the typical Microsoft hocus pocus.

How many Google accounts can I have?

You can have as many as you like. Each one comes with 15GB of storage space for your files, photos, and emails.

If you do have more than one account, Google may give you a choice of which to sign in to. But, as the guide on having multiple accounts open shows, the days when we had to sign out of one account and into another are now over.

How to get more storage space

If you need more storage you can upgrade to a Google one account. This will give you 100GB of storage for £1.59 per month. Other plans with up to 2TB of storage are also available.

What you’ll need to create your account

At this point you you should have already installed the Chrome browser

In this guide I’m only covering the personal account side of matters. If you’re more interested in a business account, the setting up a business account guide will be more useful.

So: before we begin, it may be wise to have a few things prepared.

  • A username which will be suffixed with @gmail.com, such as myhandle@gmail.com
  • A regular mobile phone number to receive a one time password, now, and in case you log on from a new device
  • An email address:You can use a non gmail address if this is your first Google account
  • Strong password: With a minimum of 8 characters comprising of letters, numbers and symbols
  • A square profile image: Or you can take one with your desktop camera later

Hint: If your desired name is already taken, Google may offer you a few alternatives. These could be your name + a few random numbers. I prefer to add an easy to remember string such as: 123 or xyz.

How to create your Google account

I’ve already detailed how to create an account in the article about setting up a gmail account. But that goes on to cover the ins and outs of gmail. Here the focus is just on the overall account and making it more accessible.

Whether for yourself or business, we begin on the same create your account page. It’s here where you’ll decide between a personal or business account.

Options for creating a Google account

After clicking the blue For myself button you’ll be presented with a screen similar to the one in the image below.

The pop out that appears when creating a Google account

Your google account homepage

Eventually you’ll arrive at your account homepage where you can begin to personalize your settings.

Google account homepage

Adding your profile image

In the top right you’ll notice the coloured placeholder containing the first letter of your account name. This is where your profile image goes.

In the left sidebar click the Personal info tab. Near the top you’ll see a box with the heading Basic info, and the link to Add a photo to personalize your account.

Screenshot showing where to add a Google account profile picture

Clicking this will allow you to either upload an image, or take a photo from your desktop. If you take the latter option: you may have to give Chrome permission to use your camera.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time around. Clicking on the image will allow you to begin the process again.

Other personal info options

This is also the place where you can change your personal details, such as password, phone number, and language.

Some languages, English being one, may have several variations. Rather than scroll up and down searching for your particular flavour, clicking the main language name will give you more options.

Accessing gmail and other Google apps

While still on your account homepage, you’ll now notice your profile image appearing in the top right. To the left of this are three rows of three dots. Clicking this opens up the full range of features available to us.

The range of Google account apps

The app icons you see in the dropdown can be dragged around to place the ones you use the most nearer the top.

Familiarizing yourself with the Google Drive and other services

The Drive app listings page has links to individual guides. Note that none of the apps are mutually exclusive, for example spreadsheets can be pasted into documents. Drawings can be inserted into sheets and documents directly from their respective apps.

As there are often several ways to achieve the same ends, it may be a good idea to study the guides for all the apps that interest you.

Now that you have your account set up, you’re all ready to syncronize your browser and make it the same accross all devices.

How to sync your Google account in Chrome

Once synced, wherever, and from whatever device you sign into your Google account, you’ll have access to all your bookmarks, Drive applications, and any files associated with your account.

This is the crux of cloud computing: accessing your files from anywhere with a connection.

This feature is normally only recommended for devices that you own. Although syncing with a regularly used device is often okay. Personally: I have often synced my Google account with Chrome on work devices.

The one thing to be wary of is that if there’s any chance someone else may access the device, then always sign out of your account after each use.

Turning on browser sync

If you’re still on your account homepage, open another tab. In the top right corner you’ll see two profile images. The one at the top is the one that concerns us. Click on that one.

Where to turn on syn your Google account accross multiple devices

In the dropdown that appears you'll see the sync status, which by default will be off. Click on the blue Turn on sync button and in the following popup select Yes I’m in.

That’s it! Now you’ll see the sync status has changed to Sync is on. Wherever you sign into your account from, you’ll notice your bookmarks are there.

Turning browser sync off

Open the same dropdown as above and click on the blue Sync is on button. This will open a new window, where, at the very top, you’ll see the option to Turn off sync

What next?

Now you’re ready to dress up your browser in a style that suits you