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November 15, 2007

Alternate Google Usernames

If you have a very long or a difficult-to-write Google username, there's a way to create up to four new usernames that could be used to login to your Google account. Just go to the settings page for Picasa Web Albums and add new usernames in the Gallery URL section. The purpose of this feature is to protect your privacy: the URLs of your albums don't have to include your Gmail username.

All usernames added at Picasa Web Albums are valid, so there's no Gmail account that uses one of them. Unfortunately, they're not aliases (you can't use them to send/receive messages) and Google doesn't offer an option to remove them. Maybe in the future Google will convert these alternate usernames to email aliases and make them more visible and easier to manage.


  1. Well, I can now log in under different usernames, but I can't use them as e-mail addresses (I tested it in Gmail) - if I can log in with it, why not have mail aliases, too?

    Thanks for the tip, though.

  2. Thx for this great tip and @cyvros, Ionut already wrote that they aren't email aliases.

  3. @greatslovakia: Goes to show how much I skim through articles. :D


  4. (Damn Blogger - I just wrote this comment but Blogger was apparently unable to handle my request or something! Grr...)

    This ability to user these alternative usernames during the login process wasn't there when Picasa Web Albums was first launched, although I don't know how new it is. [See this comment on the Google Blogoscoped Forum.]

    Also, non-Gmail users who have signed up for Google Talk can sign in to their Google Account using either their email address or Google Talk nickname as these are both classed as being usernames (and are displayed in the Google Account page in the same way as the alternative Picasa Web Album usernames).

    You can also create what are essentially alternative usernames in Google Page Creator, but these don't seem to work for signing in. I wonder why they don't treat those in the same way, and allow you to use your alternative Picasa Web Albums usernames as part of a Google Page Creator website address.

    And it would certainly make sense if all these usernames could be used as aliases for Gmail. I'm sure that would stop a lot of people creating multiple Gmail accounts.

  5. They could link them all up, Windows Live-style. I've got old Gmail accounts that I'd like to have linked 'properly' (rather than just via Gmail's mail fetcher).

  6. You can link two email accounts easily. - main - secondary

    - auto-forward all the messages from B to A
    - add B in "Send mail as" for
    - create a filter that labels all the messages sent to B

  7. @Ionut: I've done that, but what I meant was better linking like what Windows Live has done, where you can easily switch between accounts.

    It'd solve a problem I have with Page Creator in that I (stupidly enough) have a completely separate account for my website than to my personal account. Which means either two browsers or logging in and out very frequently.

  8. You can link two email accounts easily.

    Obviously. But do you know whether that method actually stops it from becoming a dormant account?

  9. I have a concern about this.

    Yesterday I discovered a fellow who had set up close to 30 blogs (,, etc where a,b... were fairly interesting topic names), each with one or two postings. As you mentioned you can have multiple Picasa identities, which presumably prevent people from picking those names when they first sign up for Gmail, etc.

    Google pages allows you to create five uniquely named web pages, tying those names up for that purpose.

    If it hasn't happened already many common names that people might like to have as their ID are being used up in ways that have probably been long forgotten by those who tied up those names. Most of the thirty blogs I mentioned above haven't been posted to since 2004. Will those names ever become available for someone who actually uses them?

    At the point where anyone could get an AOL/AIM (they share a namespace now) e-mail ID which also serves as your IM ID I tried to get such an ID using my last name (which is not a common name). It was taken. I stuck my first name on it, nope. I strung together my first middle and last names into a 20 character monstrosity. Nope.

    How dismal it must be to be known by your friends as "JillSummers2345". But if Google continues to succeed and doesn't "rationalize" their name space use, then users will have to pick such a long and de-personalizing name in order to contact friends and family.

    I know Googlers read this blog, and I hope someone there is taking a longer-term view of this than is apparent currently.

    One "way out" of this would be to have multiple instances of services like Gmail, Picasa and so on. If "Bob Smith" couldn't us his name for, maybe he could get his name at, or (assuming Google could obtain these or similar domain names) and there could be dozens of these each of which would run the identically to Gmail. Otherwise the only way to avoid forcing people to invent ridiculous name is to ration the ones we have, which of course isn't desirable either.

  10. @macbeach: I seem to recall that there was a petition set up by Blogger users to get namespaces to expire after two years because of the very problems you noted - there are unused and dead blogs out there with names that other people are after (personal experiences with Blogger :D).

  11. Ionut: An interesting point about these aliases is that they seem like they may create email addresses temporarily. I say that because the Google Groups iGoogle gadget showed me a message after I created an alias in Picasa. The message said (I've omitted the actual aliases):

    Update Email Address
    You've changed the email addresses associated with your Google Account since the last time you visited Google Groups.

    You need you to decide what to do with your subscriptions on your old email address.

    Removed Addresses: *new.alias*

    Edit your Google Account Addresses
    You can choose to re-add these addresses to this Google Account from the Google Account page.

    Change Existing Subscriptions
    Change all of your existing Google Groups subscriptions which use an old address to the address below.


    Don't Change Subscriptions
    Leave your existing subscriptions with your old email address.

    Note: These subscriptions will no longer be available to this Google Account Login. To access these subscriptions via the web in the future, you will have to create a new Google Account for your old address, or add the address back to this account. You will still be able to manage these subscriptions via email.

  12. It is strange to me that there is no DELETE option. DELETE option is a MUST HAVE. Please implement. Thank you.

  13. I just did something stupid, which was to use this to test an address my daughter might have used. Now I can't delete that and (I assume) I've locked out that possible account!

  14. FYI. I just came across this help article which says:

    You can choose any username to display as your Picasa Web Albums gallery URL, but you won't be able to sign in with this username.

    Looks like they need to update their help!

  15. I'm terribly afraid that if I experiment around with these new naming systems in Google I'll end up doing something dreadfully wrong that can't be undone.

    Hearkening back to my earlier comment, it would be good to have a sense that someone at Google is taking a long-term view of the Google namespace which is looking woefully used-up about now.

    Should we not expect from a company that has outperformed the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft in so many areas a simple explanation of where their naming scheme is headed? Some hints to users regarding preserving the privacy of their e-mail addresses while at the same time making web pages and photo albums public. A few examples would go a long way toward explaining this to those of us who haven't yet intuited where they are going with all of this.

    This is one area where Google continues to disappoint.

  16. @Ionut:

    "You can link two email accounts easily. - main - secondary

    I'm using such a scheme, where my old account is now secondary (although it is the only ID I use publicly). It does mean switching back and forth all the time, though. If Google were to integrate multiple IDs/accounts to a greater extent, that would help!


    I didn't know, however, that alternate addresses could also be used to login. That gives a whole new dimension to it...

  17. It is very very strange - still there is no DELETE option!! And HELP doesn't say nothing about that!!

  18. No way to delete, and no way to alias... not a very well thought out implementation.

  19. I am not able to create another username, very strange.

    I go to settings-> general -> Want to add a new Google username? ->
    I add and invariably it says "Please enter a username without invalid characters".

  20. It seems that this feature doesn't work any more. Am I wrong?!

  21. So what are the valid characters?

  22. @Anonymous:

    I can't add a new username, but the existing usernames are still available.