Does Gmail shut you out of your own email when you check it outside your own home?

Gmail iconI have heard from several IT Support clients about Gmail’s overzealous (and, some might say, incompetent) behaviour when they take their laptop to somewhere other than home – to a weekend cottage, for example – and then try to connect to their Gmail account using a program such as Outlook.

Just because you are signing on from a different IP address, Gmail jumps to the completely erroneous assumption that you are someone else who is trying to access your email. Come on, Gmail, get a grip. It’s much much more likely that you are yourself signing in via a different connection than that you are someone else (If you want to know what IP addresses are, by the way, try this link).

And what is the result of this mistake? Gmail won’t let you sign in to your own email. Yes, there is a method to recover from this that probably involves the phone that Google associates with that Gmail account, but it can take Google hours to contact that phone and the whole process is frustrating.

The offical Google recommendation for avoiding this problem is to enable 2-step verification, but most people that I know think that life is complicated enough already without having to enter a code sent to your mobile phone EVERY TIME you want to log into your email.

I can’t understand why Google have never allowed us to tell them IP addresses that it can definitely assume are “safe” (such as the IP address of the internet connection at a weekend cottage, for instance).

Anyway, there is actually a method of overcoming this problem but you might think it is a little drastic. It comes in the form of a setting that, when activated, causes Gmail to ignore ALL activity that it might consider “suspicious” for that Gmail account. This setting is not that easy to find. There’s no point in looking in Gmail’s “Settings” for it (presumably because Google don’t want us to find it and have only included it reluctantly).

What you have to do is as follows:

  • Sign into your Gmail webmail
  • Look to the bottom righthand side of the inbox. You should see the text “Last account activity: xx minutes ago”. Underneath that there is a link called “Details”. If none of this text is present, I have found that it appears if you just send an email to yourself, log out of Gmail, and then log back in again.
  • Click on the link called “Details”
  • A window opens headed “Activity on this account”. Scroll down this window to the section headed “Alert preference”
  • Click on the link “Change”
  • Click on the circle to the left of “Never show an alert for unusual activity” and click on “Apply”
  • Confirm this choice by clicking on “Disable Alerts”
  • Close any open windows and wait a week for Google to switch off “Unusual Activity” alerts
Gmail account - activity link

Click on “Details”

Gmail account - change Alert Preference

Click on “Change”

Gmail account - turn off alerts for unusual activity

Click on the circle to the left of “Never”

© 2011-2018 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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