Frequently Asked Questions about creating a Google Account
Q: Can I use Google products without a Google Account?
A: Yes. You can do things like search on Google and watch YouTube videos that aren't age-restricted without signing in to a Google Account.
Q: Can I use Google products without a Google profile?
A: Yes. A Google profile is only necessary if you want to share publicly or engage with content on Google+. A profile helps you communicate with the people you know from a variety of Google products — for example, sharing driving directions from Google Maps or sharing a video from YouTube. Your Google profile lets you control the details you share about yourself, not only on Google+ but through services like Gmail and Web Search.
You do have the option to delete your Google profile at any time. After you've created your account, you can remove your Google profile and associated Google+ features through your Google Account. You can also download your data, including your profile, photos, and contacts, to your computer if you want a copy of it.
Q: Is my Google profile visible to everyone on the web?
A: Yes, but you can choose how much or how little to share. The name is the only part of a profile that must be public. If you choose to share other information, such as interests, hometown or email address, you can decide who gets to see it. On your Profile and privacy settings page, you can change the information on your profile, as well as who can see what details. Learn more about sharing information on Google+.
Q: Will my Gmail address or other contact information be visible on the web?
A: Your Gmail address and other contact information will not be public on your profile by default. If you want to share this information with others, you can share it with certain contacts or make it public by managing your profile settings.
Q: What does it mean that Google may use my information to personalize content and ads on non-Google websites?
A: Personalization on non-Google websites allows Google to tailor ads to you across the Web, based on your Google profile.
Q: Why do I see my profile picture and name sometimes when I sign in?
A: To help make sign-in easier and more personal, you may see a screen with your profile picture and full name when signing in to Google. We’ll only show this information if you are signing in from a location or device you’ve signed in from before, like your home computer.
Also, if you have multiple Google accounts (for example, personal and work), you can set up different profile pictures for each of your accounts to easily tell them apart.
You can always change your profile photo if you want a different image to show, or you can remove your photo from profile settings if you don’t want your profile picture to appear at all.
Q: What is the Google sign-in process like?
A: When you sign in to Google, you'll first enter your email address or phone number, and select Next. Then, you'll enter your password and select Next. If you're a 2-Step Verification user or signing in from a new device, you might be asked to complete additional steps to verify your identity.
To help make sign-in more personal, you may see a screen with your profile picture and full name when signing in to Google. We’ll only show this information if you are signing in from a location or device you’ve signed in from before, like your home computer.
Q: Is my Google Account username the same as my Gmail username?
A: Your Google Account username is your username across all of Google, including Gmail. You can sign in to any Google service with your Google Account username and password.
Q: How will Google use my email address?
A: We’ll use your new Gmail address to send you notifications from Google services. However, we may use your other email address to help you get back into your account if you lose your password, or for certain notifications such as if we suspect that your account has been compromised.
Q: Why do I get a Gmail address with my Google Account?
A: We like Gmail a lot, and if you try it out, we hope you will too! However, if you decide not to use Gmail, and instead want a different email address associated with your Google Account, you can cancel your Gmail address.
Q: Can I sign in to my Google Account with my current, non-Gmail email address?
A: If you’d like to sign in with your current email address, you can always add an alternate email address to your account. That way, you can sign in to your Google Account with either your alternate email address or your primary Gmail address.
Q: How can I stop automatically signing in to my account?
A: After you sign in to your Google Account, you'll stay signed in unless you specifically sign out. To sign in temporarily on a computer, phone, or tablet, you can browse privately.
Q: How can I change my Search History settings?
A: Search History helps deliver more personalized search results based on your web activity, including your previous searches. When you sign up for a Google Account, Search History is automatically enabled. You can turn search history on or off at any time. To view, control, and delete your saved activity, visit My Activity.
Nick is an Accounts expert and the author of this help page. Leave him feedback below about how to improve it.