Back in 2004, when Gmail first launched, I signed up for two accounts: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. I took doctorvee because, back then, that was the username I liked to use on more or less every online account I had. So I used that as my primary account. I snapped up duncan.stephen because, y’know, real name.
I began using doctorvee as my primary email address, mainly because it matched the name of my blog. Back then, my blog was just a bit of fun; a silly hobby. I used duncan.stephen for any ‘professional’ emails, mainly for university.
Back then, the concept of a Google account didn’t seem to mean much. It was an email address. I used it for my calendar. That was about it. Over time, it became a bigger and bigger part of my online life, with many new Google services launching. Without really thinking about it, I always used the doctorvee account.
Meanwhile, the concept of ‘professional’ and ‘personal’ was blurring for me. As a result of the experience I gained through running my blog, I became a professional web editor. I grew tired of doctorvee. I closed down that blog, eventually to start up this one — under my real name.
Eventually, I wanted to switch Google accounts to duncan.stephen. But the prospect was daunting. After all, my Google account contained so much of my data — all of my emails, my calendar, a lot of documents, and much more besides.
When I got my Nexus 10, I decided to investigate the possibility more thoroughly. I was fed up with sending emails as firstname.lastname@example.org, and getting a new Google device seemed like as good an opportunity as any to make the switch.
It is not possible to merge Google accounts, or to neatly import all of your data. Different Google services offer different options. But the bottom line is, if you’re planning on moving to another Google account, you will have to live with leaving some of your data behind.
Google Takeout — the closest to an all-in-one solution
It is possible to download lots of your Google data using Google Takeout (not to be confused with Google Checkout, and also referred to sometimes as Google Takeaway). It is far from comprehensive, but the list of services represented is quite impressive: Google+, Drive, Blogger and YouTube are among them.
However, the resulting files can be massive. Also, although Takeout uses open formats, it doesn’t seem to be easy to import some of them to another Google account. For instance, I have downloaded my Google+ stream, but I couldn’t find any way to import these to another Google+ account.
This is a big one. If you are a heavy user of Google+ and decide to associate your profile with another Google account, be prepared to lie low for a while.
It is possible to migrate your circles to a different Google account. But it’s a long process. Once you tell Google you want to do it, you must wait seven days until the transfer even begins. Presumably, this is in case you change your mind.
Once the process begins, it takes another two days. During this period, you basically can’t meaningfully use Google+. You can see other people’s posts, but you can’t interact with them or post your own content.
It’s important also to point out that this transfers your circles only. None of your content or any of your other profile information is part of the transition. It’s like starting on day zero, but with the oddity that your connections are already added.
This has also had the undesirable effect of there being two versions of me on Google+ — and all of my old content is on my old profile. I have resorted to deleting all of my profile information, including my photograph, because it was confusing even me. Hopefully this doesn’t cause too many problems in the long run.
It is easy peasy to export and import all of your contacts in Gmail. This was one of the smoothest parts of the transition.
It is also easy to set up your old account to forward all email to your new one. So I can be confident that anyone emailing my old address will still be able to reach me.
I did not bother looking into migrating old emails. In the event that I really want to check an old email, I can always just log into the old account.
This is not much of an issue. It is easy to provide access to another user and give them full admin rights.
You can export your Google calendar as an iCalendar file, which you can then import into your new account. A very easy process that worked flawlessly.
The only issue I had was having to resubscribe to other public calendars, but this was just a minor inconvenience.
It is quite easy to share files with another account. So for any files from my old account that I want to easily access from my new account, I have simply done this.
Although you can export your Latitude data as part of Google Takeout, I found no way of importing that data into my new account. I have simply started from scratch here.
I made a bit of a mess of this one. It seems to be possible to associate your YouTube profile with a different Google Account. But the process is not intuitive. In the end, it turned out I was unable to make the switch because I had already created a YouTube account with my new Google Account, and two into one doesn’t go.
With this one, I had to take it on the chin and live with having two YouTube accounts.