How to Recover a Forgotten Gmail Password

Gmail offers several options for gaining access to your account

animation of man at computer having an idea

jethita / iStock

Online security experts tell us it's important to change passwords frequently. Doing so can make it harder for hackers to access personal accounts. But, it can also make it harder for you to get into those accounts because you're more likely to forget each new password.

However, most services have ways to access your account even when your password slips your mind. That includes Gmail, which guides you through a validation process to set a new password and regain access to your account.

To avoid having to remember passwords at all, try a password manager like Dashlane, which is free for a basic account.

Recover a Forgotten Gmail Password

1:30

Follow these steps to reset your forgotten Gmail password and recover access to your account.

  1. First, make sure you either (1) have a secondary email address specified for your Gmail account or (2) haven't logged into your Gmail account for five days.

  2. On the Gmail login screen select "Forgot password?".

    Screenshot of Forgot Password link on Gmail password recovery page
  3. On the Account recovery screen, type your full Gmail email address if prompted to do so. Select Next.

  4. Gmail will now ask a number of questions to try to establish you as the owner of the account.

    Screenshot of Google Account recovery page focusing on Enter last password and Try another way links

    For each question, enter your answer and select Next. Or, if you don't know the answer to a question, select Try another way.

    See below for a list of the questions Google may ask.

  5. Once you've established yourself as your account's owner using the steps above, Gmail will log you into the account. If, for security reasons, you want to change your password, follow the Change password link.

Questions Google Will Ask During Gmail Account Recovery

The questions Gmail asks to help verify your Gmail account may include the following, not necessarily in this order.

  • A previous password: If you've changed your Gmail password and only remember an older one, you can enter it.
  • Verification using a code: Depending on the verification methods you've previously set up for two-factor authentication, you can get a code from:
    • An SMS text message received from Google
    • An email message received from Google
    • An app (e.g. Google Authenticator)
    • Printed back-up codes
  • A secondary email address for Gmail account recovery: To reset the password on your Google Account, follow the link in a message Google sends to your alternate email address. You may also be able to enter any current email address to receive a verification code.
  • A security question for Gmail password recovery: When prompted, type the answer to your recovery question.
  • When you set up the account: Enter the month and year when you created the Gmail (or Google) account.

If you've used your Gmail account in the past five days but haven't specified a secondary email address, you'll have to wait for five days before you can try to gain access to the account.