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

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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. Access the Sign-In & Security page for your Google Account, then click Security on the left.

    Google account page with the Security tab highlighted
  2. Scroll until you see Ways we can verify it's you. Then, select Recovery Email.

    As a precaution, Google will ask you to reauthenticate your account.

    Google Account security section with the
  3. You'll arrive on a new screen that has the option to Add Recovery Email. Press it.

    Recovery email page in Google Account with the
  4. A new smaller box will pop open. Type your recovery email address, and press Done.

    Add recovery email dialogue box in Google Account with the Done button highlighted
  5. The box will close, revealing the previous screen with your recovery email added.

    Google with recovery email added

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, 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.