Subtle Changes to Gmail

Google HandcuffsSince I’ve been a fairly heavy user of Gmail, I have had occasion to notice some subtle changes. It wasn’t all that long ago that you could only log into one Gmail account at a time. Apparently, there were enough people (like me) who had more than one Gmail account that Google decided to accommodate us by allowing us to login to more than one account at a time. For a couple of months, the limit was 3 simultaneous accounts.

Several months ago, I noticed that Google ditched the limit of 3 simultaneous logins, with absolutely no fanfare. I’m not sure how many they would allow, but I was able to do 8 of them. I found keeping track of 8 accounts open all at the same time to be cumbersome, so I typically limited myself to 4.

Today, I noticed that I can only login to 3 accounts. There are no error messages. The browser tab just hangs when I try to open the 4th account. Interestingly, I had also noticed some subtle changes in the way that the open accounts were displayed in the upper right corner starting about a month ago. I’m guessing those two observations are related.

The return to a limit of 3 open accounts is not a biggie for me. In fact, I plan to go back to having only one account open at a time anyway. That makes it much easier to manage some of the other things that are tied to Gmail accounts (like YouTube). But it is further evidence that Google is entitled to make changes in any of their “free” products with or without notice.

As for the complaint I had in my last post, there is still no rhyme or reason for the way the filters no longer work consistently. I have tried just about everything I can think of — except that I refuse to use their pre-defined categories. I’m guessing that the breaking of the filters is probably deliberate, and designed to force people to use their new-fangled (but completely superfluous) categories.

What I’m doing instead is routing all of my important email through an account on one of my own domains. Right now, that’s just forwarded to my main Gmail account, but when the time comes, I can spend about 10 minutes setting up Thunderbird to get my mail directly instead of via Gmail.

Remember: Don’t allow yourself to become dependent on Google for anything important.

EDIT: Just for grins, I tried opening more than 4 accounts this evening. I was able to open 8 accounts at the same time. So it appears that the limit of 3 was just a temporary glitch. Too bad I couldn’t just ask the folks at Google customer service…

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