As with Android mobiles, when you turn on a Chromebook for the first time, the system will ask you to log in with a Google account. This is necessary to synchronize your Chromebook with all the preferences and settings of the Google apps that you use on other devices.
In this way, your Gmail account will be automatically signed in, all Chrome settings will be exported (bookmarks, history, passwords, extensions, contacts, among others), you will have access to your cloud in Drive, etc.
Now, if you are not the only one using the Chromebook, then you need to add another account. Even more possible is that you have several Google accounts and you need to have them all on your Chromebook, as each one you use for a specific purpose (one personal, one for school, one for work, etc.).
However, there is a problem with this and it is that Chrome OS allows you to add both other Google accounts and new users to your Chromebook, which can confuse you because “user” and “account” are terms that are often used as synonyms, but not it is so in this case.
Anyway, we’ll explain how to use multiple accounts on your Chromebook in a moment, distinguishing between the two possible ways of doing it and clarifying their advantages and disadvantages.
How to add a Google account to a Chromebook
To start, we will teach you how to add another Google account to your user on a Chromebook. It is very simple, you just have to follow these steps:
- Tap the time button in the lower right corner of the screen.
- Then tap the gear icon at the top of the window that just opened.
- Go to the People section.
- Select the icon for your Google account.
- Press the Add account button.
- Enter the email and password of the Google account you want to add and click Next.
- Follow the steps indicated and ready.
Thus, you will have added a secondary Google account to your user on the Chromebook. To better understand what this secondary Google account can and cannot do on your Chromebook, here we leave you with their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of using a user for multiple accounts
- Easy access to the data of other accounts: you can see the emails, files hosted in Drive, contacts, among other things, of the secondary account.
- Use paid apps or subscriptions from other accounts: If you have an app purchased with a secondary Google account, you can install it on your Chromebook without having to change users. You just have to access the store, touch the icon of your account, choose the account that bought the payment app and then downloads it.
- You can register on websites with your other accounts easily: instead of using your account to register everywhere, you can be more organized and use the secondary account you just added to register on those websites or apps you only enter out of curiosity and that you do not want to relate to your account.
- It does not affect the performance of your Chromebook: having a user on your Chromebook for multiple Google accounts consumes fewer resources than having a user for each Google account you have. And it is that having multiple users, the processes will be duplicated (two browsers will be opened, for example), which consumes a lot of RAM and affects the overall performance of the Chromebook.
Disadvantages of using a user for multiple accounts
- You cannot access the preferences of the secondary Google accounts: that is, you cannot see the history, bookmarks, or saved passwords of the secondary Google account in the browser.
- There is no individual account security: if you lose your Chromebook and it did not have a password set, the thief will be able to access the information of all the Google accounts you added.
- It can mix things up for bad: for example, if in the same user you added the Google account at work and your account, it is possible that you are working and you will start receiving social media notifications from the personal account, which will make you lose focus. It can also happen the other way around: you are watching Netflix and suddenly receive an email from work that ruins your leisure.
How to add another user to your Chromebook
Given the disadvantages presented above, you may have realized that what you need is to add another user to your Chromebook. To do this, all you have to do is the following :
- Press the time button located in the lower right corner.
- Click on Exit.
- Tap Add a person.
- Although, if you are going to lend your Chromebook to a person for a specific occasion and you will not use it regularly, you better choose the option Browse as a guest.
- Next, you will have to add a Google account for the new user, entering the email and password. Do it, then follow the steps indicated and ready.
That way, you will have added a Google account to your Chromebook with a new user. Doing this with all your accounts, you will have a user for each of your Google accounts. The advantages and disadvantages of doing this are shown below.
Advantages of using a user for each account
- You can use the settings and preferences of each Google account in the browser: that means that the bookmarks, passwords, extensions, and history of each of the Google accounts will be seen in Chrome separately. Also, the files and downloads will be separated in the Chromebook by account/user.
- Individual account security: if you set a password for each user on your Chromebook and lose your laptop, whoever finds it will only have access to the Google account of the last user who used it. If you want to access the other accounts, you will have to enter the password of the other users.
- Greater privacy: this method is ideal for those who share a Chromebook since each person can have their Google account open in a user that other people cannot access. They will be able to browse without seeing or modifying the data of other users, since, despite using the same laptop, they will use different and separate virtual spaces.
Disadvantages of using a user for each account
- It is very impractical to use multiple accounts at the same time: if you have multiple users open at the same time, only one of them will be able to use the Android, Linux, and Google Assistant apps. Likewise, subscriptions or apps purchased with an account cannot be shared among users. So, switching between one user and another to use your different Google accounts, will make using the applications a headache.
- It also makes file management problematic: with each user having a separate space on the Chromebook, you may download or create many files and then don’t remember which user the file you’re looking for is. This can become a huge headache when you want to find a particular file quickly.
- RAM issues: If you keep multiple users open at the same time, many processes will stay open as well, resulting in huge RAM consumption. And what does that mean? That your laptop will go slower.
In short, choose the method you prefer, although you can also combine both. For example, if you share the Chromebook with a friend, add all your accounts to one user and have your friend add all their accounts to another user. The best thing is that you try different combinations to find the best way to use multiple accounts on your Chromebook.