When you first picked your Gmail address, it might not have been obvious that this would stick with you for many years and become a primary way people would communicate with you not only when sending and receiving emails, but also on YouTube and any other services Google owns. What seemed fine back then might not quite match the way you see yourself today.

You may want to change your address because you got married and want to use your new name, or because you hate the numbers that were generated after your name because you were the 7,000th John Smith to sign up, or have come to realise that [email protected] was fine when you were in the rugby club, but isn’t exactly ideal now you’re head of communications. 

So, is it possible to change the name on your Gmail address? Well, no, but we show you how to get around this problem.

Can I change my Gmail address?

Google states that in some instances you may be able to alter your username (the bit that appears before @gmail.com), but it’s unlikely. To find out you’ll need to go to your Google account. The route differs depending on the type of device you’re using.

On a PC you can open up Gmail then click on your profile image in the top right corner and select Manage your Google Account. From the left-hand column, click on Personal info then scroll down and click on your email address in the Contact info section. 

How to change Gmail account

For Android users you’ll need to go to Settings > Google > Manage your Google Account > Personal Info then in the section marked Contact Info select Email. While iPhone users should open the Gmail app, tap the three lines to open the menu then go to Settings > your account > Manage Your Google Account > Personal Info then look for the Contact Info section and select Email.   

In the Google Account email section you’ll see your current address. If you can click or tap it then you will be able to change the setting, but the chances are that this won’t be possible. 

How to change Gmail account

Clicking Advanced will reveal something called Alternative Emails. These allow you to set-up non-Gmail accounts that can be used to log into your account and send emails, but while this sounds like the perfect solution there are some problems. When people share things with you on Google Docs, Google Calendar or other Google sites then they will see your existing Gmail address rather than the alternative one. So, if you really want to keep the email secret then you’ll need to take different measures.

How to get email from an old Gmail account to a new one

If you want to be sure that your old address doesn’t pop up somewhere and embarrass you, then the only way to make that happen is by setting up an entirely new Google account.

This doesn’t mean you have to cut ties to your old address though, as you can set it to forward all emails to the new account. It does mean that any favourited videos on YouTube will have to be left behind, but these can always be recreated on your new address.

So, go to Gmail, log out of the account you want to leave behind, then select Create account and follow the instructions.

When you’ve finished doing this, you’ll next need to go to your PC (mobile devices can’t set up forwarding) and log into your old Gmail account. Click on the cog icon in the top right corner to open the menu, then select Settings.

Across the top of the main panel you’ll see a number of headings. Click on Forwarding and POP/IMAP, then select Add a forwarding address.

How to change Gmail account

Enter the address of your new account, then select Next > Proceed > OK.

Gmail will now automatically send a verification message to the new account and you’ll need to get the confirmation code included within it before you can progress any further. With this done, go back to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP section of Gmail for your old account, enter the code and click Verify.

How to change Gmail account

Now you’ll see in the Forwarding section that two options have appeared: Disable forwarding (the default) and Forward a copy of incoming email to followed by your new address and another menu with several options. We recommend leaving the latter as keep Gmail’s copy in the Inbox. The last step is to select the Forward a copy of incoming email to option then scroll down and click Save Changes.

How to change Gmail address

That’s it. You should now have your new Gmail address, plus you won’t miss any messages from the old one. If you fancy trying a different email service instead, then be sure to read the best free email services.