How to Fix It When You're Locked Out of Your Gmail Account

Troubleshooting a Gmail lockout

This article guides you on troubleshooting your Gmail access when you are locked out.

You can be locked out of your Gmail account for some extraordinary reason. Google's account recovery process can help you get back in. However, it's easier if you lose only one key piece of your credentials, like either your username or password, rather than both.

What Causes a Gmail Lockout?

The Google Support troubleshooter lists nine unique reasons which can cause Gmail to lock you out of your account. These are the four common reasons you might come across.

  • You can't remember your username.
  • You have lost or forgotten your Gmail password.
  • You are unable to use 2-Step verification from any device.
  • Someone has hacked into your account.

Google can also lock you out proactively if it suspects any unusual activity on your Gmail account.

How Long Does a Gmail Lockout Last?

According to Google, a Gmail lockout can last for a few hours to a few days. This time depends on the nature of the intrusion Google suspects. You can recover an account set up with the proper recovery information in a few minutes with the steps below.

A Google Account Help page answers the reasons behind any extraordinary Gmail lockout period.

How Do I Unlock My Gmail Account?

You can unlock your Gmail account by recovering the username or resetting the account password. But before that, you have to set up a secondary recovery email address or a phone number which Google can use to verify your identity. The secondary email address doesn't necessarily have to be on Gmail.

Recover Your Gmail Account Username

It's rare to forget your Gmail username, but it can happen when the account lies unused for a long time. Follow these steps to recover your username.

  1. Open the Gmail sign-in page and select Forgot email.

    The Forgot email link highlighted on a Gmail login page.
  2. On the Find your email page, enter your phone number or recovery email.

    Recovery Email
  3. Select Next.

  4. Enter the First Name and Last Name you use for this specific account. 

    Enter the First Name and Last Name
  5. Select Send to receive a 6-digit verification code on the phone number or recovery email associated with the account.

    Verification-Code for Gmail
  6. Type the verification code in the field and select Next.

    Enter verification code
  7. Choose the user name you want to recover.

    Gmail Choose Account
  8. Enter your password and log into your Gmail account.

Recover Your Gmail Account Password

Forgetting your Gmail account password is more common than losing the username. Here are the steps to reset your password.

  1. Open the Gmail sign-in page.

  2. Enter the username.

    Recover Gmail with lost password
  3. Select Forgot password now or try the password you vaguely remember. Google will display a "Wrong password. Try again or click ‘Forgot password’ to reset it." when you make an error.


    Google asks for the last password. But you can enter any password for the account you remember and see if it works. It's better if the password is among the more recent ones.

    Forgot password button highlighted on the Gmail login page.
  4. On the Account recovery page, follow the prompt to Enter the last password that you remember using with this Google Account. Select Next.

    Enter last Gmail password you remember
  5. Google asks you to open the Google app on your phone and match the number displayed on the browser to the one on the app. Alternatively, it can also send a verification code to the secondary address you had set up for recovery.

    Verification code to recover lost password in Gmail
  6. When the numbers match, Gmail displays the page to change the password. Enter a new password in the fields and select Next.

    Change password in Gmail
  7. Google confirms a recovery email and recovery phone. Update them if necessary.

    Gmail Security Checkup
  8. Select Continue to Gmail at the foot of the page to enter your inbox.

Recover a Hacked Gmail Account

You can take precautions to secure your account if you suspect someone else is using your account. The methods to use will depend on these two situations:

You can log into Gmail: Enter Google My Account and select the Security page. Then, follow the security recommendations to secure your account from unwanted intrusions.

You cannot log into Gmail: Follow the steps outlined in the earlier sections to recover your account.

How Can I Unlock My Gmail Account Without a Phone Number and Recovery Email?

Google offers a few workarounds to unlock your Gmail account without a phone number or recovery email. Try them though success isn't assured. If a lot of time has passed since you used the account on a familiar device or network, then the chances of unlocking the account are low.

  1. Go to the Google Account Recovery page from the device, the browser, and/or the IP address you last used to log into this Gmail account.

  2. Enter the username and select Next.

  3. Enter any password you remember for the account.

  4. You may get a "Google couldn't verify this account belongs to you" message. Select Try another way to display a page with a Try again button and a few instructions.

    Gmail Try Again

Two-step verification is an added layer of protection for Gmail. So, unlocking such an account is a bit more difficult if you lose a key piece of information.

  • How do I delete a Gmail account?

    You can delete your Gmail account, along with any other individual Google services, by going to the data and privacy section of your Google account page. From there, click Delete a Google Service, and then select the trash can icon next to Gmail.

  • How do I remove a Gmail account from my iPhone?

    Your iPhone stores all of the email accounts you've set up in the Settings app. Go to Settings > Mail > Accounts, tap your Gmail account, and then select Delete Account at the bottom of the screen.

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