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 videos on YouTube 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 use 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 Accounts Settings page. You can also download your data, including your profile, photos, and contacts, to your computer if you want a copy of it. Click on the Data liberation tab on your Accounts Settings page to use Google Takeout and download your data onto your computer.
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. (Note that once you've created your account, you can’t modify your date of birth on this page.) You can prevent your profile from showing up in Google web search results by changing your settings, though it may show up in other contexts. If you want to share additional information, you can organize your contacts into circles to share relevant content with the right people. 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 circles or make it public in your profile settings. If you like, you also can enable a button underneath your profile photo to allow anyone to send you an email -- without ever revealing your email address.
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 +1 content and ads to you across the Web, based on your Google profile, +1 activity, and social connections. For example, say your friend clicks the +1 button to recommend a movie on an entertainment site. If you visit the site, you might see your friend’s +1 next to the movie, helping you decide what to watch on Friday. Learn more.
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 change my sign-in preference?
A: When you sign up, the “Stay signed in” option is turned on automatically, so you don’t have to enter your username and password every time you want to access a Google service. (We do periodically ask you to sign in, and you can always sign out whenever you want.) You can always turn this setting off by unchecking the “Stay signed in” option on the Google sign-in page.
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 learn more about it in our Help Center. You can always remove Search History by going to www.google.com/history and clicking on “Remove all Search History.” You can also pause it or remove specific items from your history.
Q: Is my YouTube username different from my Google username? What will appear as my "username" when I post a comment / upload to YouTube?
A: With a Google Account, you can like videos, subscribe to channels, and add videos to watch later. If you’d like to post a comment or upload a video to YouTube, you need to create a YouTube channel first. You can upgrade to a YouTube Channel at any time. You’ll be asked to create a YouTube username, which is different from your Google username. Your YouTube username will appear when you comment or upload a video. Whenever you’re signed into YouTube, your YouTube username will be displayed at the top right of all YouTube pages.
Q: Can others find my Google profile by navigating from YouTube?
A: By default, your Google profile will not be visible to anyone navigating from your YouTube Channel. You can associate your YouTube Channel with your Google profile at any time by visiting the YouTube privacy settings page. If you want to keep your YouTube Channel private, you’ll also need to be careful when you share your uploaded YouTube videos to Google+ -- those videos will be attributed to both your YouTube username and your Google profile.
Q: Can others find my email address from my YouTube Channel?
A: No, it’s not possible for people to find your email address from your YouTube Channel.
Q: What happens when I share something on YouTube? Where else does that info show up on Google (and other Google services)?
A: When you share something on YouTube, your activity is not shared anywhere else by default. Your activity will only show up on Google+ if you share using the +1 button on YouTube. You can also connect YouTube to other services like Orkut or Google Reader to share your activity with your friends. Visit your YouTube sharing settings page to connect your account.
Kaley is on the Accounts support team and author of this help page. Please leave suggestions below on how to improve her article.