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Convincing Google Inbox to let you login

If you’ve ever gotten stuck unable to login to Inbox because it can’t be convinced to choose the correct Google account (e.g., looking at the screen that says “Using Google Apps for Work? Your admin must activate Inbox for work.” even though you also have a separate personal account you’re using with Inbox), this post lists the ways I’ve found for dealing with that.

Background

I have two gmail accounts, one for work (managed by work) and a personal one. I use the traditional Gmail interface for the work email and Google Inbox for my personal email. I don’t want to use Inbox for my work email, but even if I did I couldn’t because it’s not enabled for my work account (and that’s beyond my control).

When your browser has cookies for multiple Google logins, most Google tools know about that and let you switch between those accounts. There is also the concept of a “default” account, which is just the one you logged in with first on that browser. Google’s story for changing the default account is functional but abysmal: log out of all Google accounts and re-login to them in a different order.

Problem

The landing page for Inbox only uses your default login, and unlike other Google tools doesn’t provide any option to change which login you mean to be using. Because I tend to use my work account with Google tools much more than my personal account, I regularly end up with my work account as the “default” one, so when I go to check my personal Inbox I regularly end up looking at the “Your admin must activate Inbox” page. I have found three ways of dealing with this, listed here from most PITA to slickest.

  1. Do the logout/login dance I described above.
  2. Log into gmail with your personal account, then click the “Inbox” button in the bottom-right corner.
  3. Change the URL

It turns out that the account that Inbox uses is indicated in the URL of the landing page. When you are looking at the “Your admin must activate Inbox” page, the URL probably looks like this:

https://inbox.google.com/u/0/

Try changing that to this

https://inbox.google.com/u/1/

For me, that works to get me into my personal account.

Note: If your browser currently has only your work/gmail login, and you haven’t logged in with your Inbox login at all yet, then #3 probably won’t work for you. In that case, you can fall back to #2.

One thought on “Convincing Google Inbox to let you login

  1. I noticed a few days ago that Google has finally fixed this problem. The workaround in this post shouldn’t be necessary anymore.

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