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

Protect yourself from account lock-outs

Businessperson 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 — and send a link you use to reset your password.

To make sure you can always recover your Gmail account, create an alternate email address with a service such as Gmail or Outlook.

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 select Security.

    Google account page with the Security tab highlighted
  2. In the Ways we can verify it's you section, select Recovery Email.

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

    Google Account security section with the
  3. Select Add Recovery Email.

    Recovery email page in Google Account with the
  4. Enter your recovery email address, then select 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. Use a work address or a non-Google address (such as Outlook.com), so if your information is compromised, you're not left without recourse.

In addition to establishing a recovery password, enable 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.