Dear Lifehacker, I have multiple Gmail accounts and a Google Apps account. I have to sign in to one for Google Voice, into another for docs and Gmail, and use the third for Google+. I’d really like everything in one place so I don’t have to keep switching again and again. How can I do this? Thanks, Google Nonplussed
I’ve been there. Actually, this sounds like a question I was just asking myself yesterday (and many, many times before that). Google does its best to make merging information from different accounts a simple procedure, but because you’re moving around so much information and there are security concerns around transferring your online identity, the process can seem much more complex than it is.
Some Google services have their own tools for migrating data from one account to another, and others use a simple export and import process. We’ll highlight how to move your Google+ data first, then look at your more general options.
Migrate Your Google+ Profile, Circles And Other Information
Migrating your Google+ profile and data from one account to another is quite straightforward. Follow these steps:
- Decide which account you want to transfer your profile and circles from (the source account) and which account you want to transfer your profile and circles to (the destination account).
- Create a Google+ profile on the destination account. Google cannot transfer a profile to an account that isn’t signed up for Google+, so you need some sort of profile. It can contain nothing more than your name, but it has to exist.
- Sign into your source account and visit google.com/takeout.
- You’ll see a list of all the other data you can export, but we’re not going to bother with all of that right now. In the list you should see an option called Circles, and underneath that option a link called “Transfer your Google+ connections to another account.” Click that.
- If you forgot to sign into your source account, or Google just wants to re-verify who you are, you’ll be asked to sign in again. After that, you’ll be taken to a page that will ask you to sign into your destination account. Do that as well.
- Confirm that you definitely want to make this transfer. Google wants you to be sure you didn’t mess anything up.
Having done these steps, you have to wait seven days. Although Google doesn’t explain why this holding period exists, security reasons seem the most likely explanation. During that period, both accounts will show that a transfer is pending and either account can cancel that transfer at any time. This ensures an unauthorised data migration can be stopped by either user if they hadn’t initiated or approved it.
Once the seven days pass, the transfer will take place, but the source account will still maintain the original data. You’ll need to remove the profile manually if you don’t want a duplicate.
Migrating Your Other Google Services With Takeout
For many other Google services, you can follow these steps:
- Sign in to the source account (the account you want to transfer data from) and visit google.com/dashboard.
- At the top you should see a notice in yellow that says “You can move data out of this account.” Click the link to get started.
- Google will take you to a page that shows your source account and confirms that you are signed in. You’ll then need to sign into your destination account in order for the data to have a place to go.
- Once you’re signed into both accounts, you’ll have a long list of services currently on the source account. If you want to transfer any of them to the destination account, check the boxes next to their titles.
- After you have made your selections, you’ll need to tick a few more options in a grey box at the bottom of the page. This confirms to Google that you know what you’re doing and understand what’s going to happen during the transfer process.
- Click “I accept. Move this data.” The transfer will begin. Once it’s complete, your data will no longer be in the source account and only exist in the destination account. This process will not will not transfer your Gmail or Calendars; consult our migration guide for information on transferring those services.
Export Your Other Google Data With Takeout
Migrating other data is generally easy because you can download whatever you want with Google Takeout and import it into your other account. Let’s take a quick look at how this works.
When you visit Google Takeout, click the “Create Archive” button at the bottom of the page and it will download every bit of data listed on the page. That includes your Picasa web albums, contacts, docs and various other information. (As we’ve noted before, it doesn’t include Gmail or Calendars.) If you don’t want to download all of your data, you can choose specific types by clicking the “Choose Services” tab at the top of the page. When you’ve finished making your selections, click the “Create Archive” button.
This will initiate the archive creation and a download will begin when Google has everything ready for you. If you open the archive, you’ll find data that’s mostly readable. A lot of the data is stored in HTML files, while any contact information is saved as VCF contact cards, which are recognised by most address book software.
While some of the data you can download via Google Takeout can only really exist in your personal archives, as it has no other use at the moment, you’ll be able to import contact cards and documents into their respective Google apps just like any regular data. Your +1s can also be imported into most web browsers as bookmarks. If you’re using Chrome, Google will be able to sync them. Although Google Takeout could be a bit more comprehensive, and it would be helpful if it also served as a hub for the various migration tools available, it’s a good start when you need to download or move data around in your Google accounts.
Migrating data from one Google account to another can be a bit of work, but once you know what you’re doing it’s not very hard and doesn’t take much time. If you follow these instructions, you’ll soon have one Google account to rule them all.
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