Choosing Between Google Account and Google Apps

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If you are wondering about the difference between a Google Account and Google Apps, you aren't the only one. Google's terminology for these two account types was confusing. In 2016, Google changed the name of Google Apps to G Suite, which helps clear up the confusion.

Google Account

Your Google Account is used to log in to Google services. It is an email address and password combination, and it's generally what you'd type in any time Google asks you to log in. It can be a Gmail address, although it doesn't have to be. You can associate a new Gmail address with an existing Google Account, but you can't merge two existing Google Accounts together. When you sign up for Gmail, a Google Account is automatically created using the new Gmail address.

It is generally wise to go ahead and associate a Gmail address with your Google Account. Add any other email accounts you use as long as they haven't been associated with another Google Account, so anyone sending you an ​email invitation to share a document will send the invite to the same Google Account. Make sure you are logged in to your existing Google Account before you create a Gmail new address, or you'll accidentally make another Google Account.

If you've already accidentally made several Google Accounts, there's not much you can do about it right now. Perhaps Google will come up with some sort of merging tool in the future.

Google Apps Changes Name to G Suite

Google Apps Account — Apps with a capital "A" — was the name used to refer to a specific suite of hosted services that businesses, schools, and other organizations could administer using Google's servers and their own domains. At one time, Google Apps Accounts were free. Google distinguished these services by calling them Google Apps for Work and Google Apps for Education. They were originally called "Google Apps for Your Domain." Google renamed Google Apps for Work to G Suite in 2016, which may eliminate some of the confusion. 

You log in to G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work) using your work or organization email address. This account is not associated with your regular Google Account. It is a separate Google Account, which may even be separately branded with the company or school logo and may have some restrictions on available services. For example, you may or may not be able to use Google Hangouts. This means your business or school can control which services you use with that account. 

It is possible to be simultaneously logged in using separate emails to both a Google Account and a G Suite account. Look at the upper right corner of your Google service to see which email address is associated with the service you are using.