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Two Google accounts, with two versions of each Google service? That's a hassle, it turns out. So I'm radically simplifying.

A bit of background: I celebrated when my esteemed employer migrated its staff from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps, the pro-level suite of Google services that I have used in my personal life for years.

http://blogs.twincities.com/yourtechweblog/2013/10/16/my-employer-has-at-last-gonegoogle-and-i-am-all-in/

Subsequent changes at the Pioneer Press have been very much to my liking. 

I had been filing my articles to my editor via the Web-based Google Docs word processor for years, but we now collaborate on editing and updating of my pieces right in Docs.

My editor used to work on my stories in my newsroom’s content management system, but he now transfers my copy to the CMS only after we have both thoroughly and collaboratively worked it over in Docs. I can see everything he does since his cursor is visible on my screen, in a color different from that of my cursor.

This approach is also killer when I am collaborating with another reporter on a co-bylined story.

This is old news for the legions who have long used Google Docs for collaboration, I know – but it is a sea change where I work, and I am delighted.

Google Apps at work has created a few complications, though, and I’ve had to make a number of adjustments in recent days.

I decided that using two of every Google tool – Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Drive for online file storage, the Google+ social network and the like – is too much of a headache in most cases.

This is not a Google Apps-only problem. Those using vanilla versions of Google, the kind without customized domain names, have the same issue if they juggle more than one Google account and its respective services, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google+.

So, last week, I did some serious simplifying. Here are the steps I took:

1) I obliterated the Google+ account associated with my work version of Google Apps. Having two Google+ identities is a hassle for me and confusing for those who want to circle me. Since my personal Google+ account has the biggest following by far, I kept that one and I nuked the other one.

I gulped a couple of times when I did this since I had nurtured a bit of hope that my workplace's corporate G+ accounts would become an internal messaging system, something that Google has promoted and has happened at other companies. My newsroom shows little sign of moving in this direction even though I have suggested this on several occasions, however.

2) I stopped using two versions of Google Calendar and defaulted to my personal version – with a “home” calendar and “work” calendar set up within it. 

One reason I did so: I have found it problematic to use my work version of Google Calendar with certain smartphone apps and the like because of slightly different Google log-in procedures that create incompatibility. I don’t have that problem with my personal Google Calendar.

When I set up a work appointment in my personal Google Calendar, I do share it to my work version of Google Calendar if fellow staffers have to see it. And when I use the “create event” feature in my work Gmail, I share that event to my personal version of Google Calendar so all my appointments remain consolidated there.

3) I don’t write stories and posts in my work version of Google Docs anymore. There is no point since I can share a story with my editor from my home Google Docs just as seamlessly, and all my Google documents – home and work – are now consolidated in one place.

4) The same goes for files stored in Google Drive. I have far more storage capacity in the home version of that service, so I just put everything there. Work and personal stuff are in their own folders.

5) I of course have to keep using the work and home versions of Gmail. I like keeping my home and work e-mail in different accounts, however – and juggling  the two Gmail accounts is not too much of a problem.

On a Mac, I use Mailplane, a specialized browser that lets you set up separate tabs for different Gmail (and Google Calendar) accounts, and seamlessly switch among them.

http://mailplaneapp.com/

On a PC, I open one of my Gmail accounts in a standalone Chrome-browser window and not a tabbed window (this can be set up by right-clicking on the Gmail icon in Chrome's app screen). I view the other Gmail account via the Chrome-based Windowed Mail for Gmail app with a standalone window of its own. This all works beautifully.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/windowed-mail-for-gmail/okgpnfocnmofaplnnimmiojppnabfclb?hl=en-US

For good measure, I installed the Checker Plus for Gmail extension in Chrome so I have convenient access to both mail accounts within my main browser window on a PC or a Mac.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/checker-plus-for-gmail/oeopbcgkkoapgobdbedcemjljbihmemj?hl=en

I’m sure I’ll make more Google Apps-related adjustments in the future, but this system is working pretty well for me now.
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Michael T. Kleven's profile photoPatrick Hagge's profile photoJeff Jarvis's profile photoJulio Ojeda-Zapata's profile photo
7 comments
 
Thanks for sharing your situation. I have also considered simplifying. I have Google apps installed on a few domains and personal Gmail too. 
 
I keep hesitating to move my Google+ account over to my apps address because I hear it is such a hassle. But having two accounts is even more of a hassle. Given that many Googlers are in the same boat, I cannot understand why they haven't fixed this. 
 
I have all of my stuff (Docs, G+, mail, etc) on a Google Apps account so I have my own domain. Sometimes I hate that I cannot get some of the features until months after they come out. Sometimes there are those wonky things with apps accounts too.

I thought about moving back to a vanilla GMail account, however moving all my stuff (especially G+ and Docs) is a huge pain. I also would loose out on my 95GB of storage I have on my Drive, a lot of which is free from things like my Moto X, but I still have a 20GB legacy plan on there. And I use it (mainly for photo storage)! 
 
+Jeff Jarvis: Agreed. My original Google+ account is one moved from vanilla Google to Apps, but to say that process was imperfect is an understatement.
 
+Patrick Hagge: I agree Apps has its frustrations, but its KILLER phone tech support keeps me loyal. Whenever I had an issue over the years, the tech-support people around the globe (depending on when I called) never failed to save my bacon.
 
+Julio Ojeda-Zapata Please say more about that transition so I can (a) decide whether it's worth it and (b) be warned about how to do it properly. THanks!
 
+Jeff Jarvis: It's been a while, but the BIG hit I took at the time was losing all G+ posts in my vanilla account when migrating that G+ identity to Google Apps. Posts on my G+ account now go back no earlier than that transition.

I suspect that's a deal breaker for you. I had wondered whether Google has corrected this deficiency ... but I don't think it has:

https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1716102?hl=en&topic=2400106

Sorry I can't be more helpful.
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