Google provides a number of nice online services. So many, in fact, that it's not uncommon to have multiple Google accounts for different uses. Unfortunately, switching between those accounts can be pretty annoying. While it's not perfect, a Chrome extension called Quick Google makes the process a little easier.
I should start by saying that this extension works in Chrome (our browser of choice), though similar functionality is available in Firefox through add-ons such as Gmail Manager. It's also worth mentioning that this doesn't work with Google Apps accounts, although you can already run multiple Apps logins alongside each other, so that's not really a huge deal. Alright, with caveats out of the way, here's a look at how the Quick Google extension works.
Installation and setup
The first step is to install the Quick Google extension in Chrome. Once installed, you'll have a new orange logo sitting alongside your other extensions. When you click it, it informs you that you haven't configured any accounts yet. After clicking through to do so, you'll see a straight forward page where you add your accounts.
Each account gets a name (for you to identify your accounts), a username (should be the full Google username, including "@gmail.com"), and the account password. I haven't verified this myself, but the developer states that passwords are stored locally and encrypted. Once you've added as many accounts as you'd like (again, no Google Apps accounts), click "Save."
Using Quick Google
Now that you've installed and configured the extension, there are two different ways to use it for account switching. The first is to click the icon like before, which will give you a drop-down showing your accounts. When you choose an account, it will open up a new tab of your Google account page logged in to the chosen account. This will also change the account of all other open windows (after a refresh). You can then either choose a service from the index page, or navigate directly to whatever page you want to use. It's worth reiterating that this extension doesn't let you log in to multiple Google accounts at the same time, it just switches your browser between different accounts.
The other way to use Quick Google is from the sign-in page on most Google services. On these pages, Quick Google adds a small logo in the top left corner of the page. When you mouse over it, it will show your accounts, and if you choose an account, it will log you into that account on the current page. That means that if you're on the Gmail sign-in page (like in the screenshot), using Quick Google from the page will log you directly into Gmail, instead of taking you to the index page.
Caveats and Problems
I mentioned some of the drawbacks of Quick Google above, but it's worth reiterating them. The main concern is probably related to giving up your passwords to the extensions, but until Google addresses multiple accounts directly, that's going to be a reality of any solution. There's also no Apps support (for now, according to the developer), but given that concurrent Apps logins are allowed, it's not really a big problem.
The only other issue for me is that this still doesn't address the real problem of using multiple Google accounts at once; it just lets you switch between accounts easily. I'll eventually put up another post that addresses this problem through the use of Chrome's application shortcuts and multiple profiles, but for many cases, Quick Google will do the job.
In a brilliantly timed release, given my post, Google is finally starting to provide support for multiple accounts in some of their products (including Gmail, Calendar, Reader, and Voice). This doesn't completely solve the problem for those who use, for example, Adwords, or who use more than 3 accounts, but it's a step in the right direction. Read more here.
Sign up to receive updates in your inbox