How to Set Up, Check, and Change a Secondary Gmail Address

Protect yourself from account lock-outs

Businesswoman using cell phone at laptop in brightly lit office

JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images

When you can't get into your Gmail account, Gmail needs to be able to reach you — and only you — with a link that lets you reset your password.

One smart way to make sure you can always recover your Gmail account is to have an alternate email address (or, better yet, many) on tap.

Secondary Email Address for Password Recovery

To add a secondary email address to your Gmail account for password recovery:​

  1. Start by opening up Gmail and signing in to your account.

    Gmail inbox
  2. From your Gmail inbox, find the Google apps icon, and select it. The icon is a grid of nine squares, similar to the ones found on Android.

    Google Apps menu on Gmail
  3. Choose Account from the apps menu. It will be the first option with either the first letter of your first name or a picture of you as the icon.

  4. A new tab will open to your Google account page. You'll see a menu to the left of the main body of the page. Press Security from that menu.

    Google account page
  5. Scroll down in the Security page until you see Ways we can verify it's you.

  6. Inside that box, choose Recovery email.

    Google account security settings
  7. Google will ask you to enter your password again to verify that it is actually you adding the recovery email.

  8. Google will take you to a page without a lot on it. Toward the center there will be the option to ADD RECOVERY EMAIL. Select it.

    Google account recovery email settings
  9. A new window will pop up, letting you enter your recovery email address. When you're finished, press DONE.

    Enter your Google recovery email
  10. Your new recovery email address will appear on the page. Everything is set up to recover your account with the new email address.

    Recovery email added to Google account

Gmail Account Security

Although a recovery address is a step in the right direction, it's important that the recovery address is safe and accessible to you. Aim for a work address or a non-Google address (like Outlook.com), so if your information is compromised, you're not left without recourse.

In addition to establishing a recovery password, follow best practices like enabling two-factor authentication on your account. If you have the choice, choose two-factor approaches that rely on either a hardware device like a USB security key or an authentication app on your smartphone. Avoid, if you can, two-factor solutions that rely on text messages.

From the same menu in your Google Account, you can configure two-factor security.