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Logging into Gmail on Chrome links my Google Account to the browser
73 points by princevegeta89 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 73 comments
This annoying UX issue has been existing for a few years now; why does Google do nothing about it?

I know they're mining data from Google Accounts and get more value if I am logged in. However the UX aspect of it seems to be horrendous. Two scenarios that bother me:

- I link my account to Chrome. If I unlink my account, and simply login to Gmail in the future, it automatically links the account back to Chrome

- I link my account X to Chrome. Later, I sign into another account Y. When I am done with Y, I logout from my Gmail which has "Y", this automatically signs me out of X, and instantly unlinks X. Such an annoying UX.

Is it time to say goodbye to Chrome in favor of Brave, Vivaldi, etc. ?






This isn't a bug, this is an explicit decision they made. It caused a bit of a stir at the time, but they went through with the change anyways.

Personally for me it was the last straw, and I've since moved to Firefox.


Honestly for the average user it makes perfect sense. They said that they found the average user did not understand the difference between logging out of chrome and logging out of google so they would accidentally leave one logged in.

If you don’t trust google with your data then you shouldn’t use chrome at all.


I wonder id these layers of logins and fallbacks are the initial intention to improve user tracking. Does chrome os login serve as another layer?

100%.

That's one of the biggest complaints about ChromeOS, despite its excellent security paradigm compared to standard desktop setups: the user auth/activity pings it sends Google.


Is there something like Chromium but for ChromeOS? I wouldn't worry about Google pings with Chromium (I mean, if they are, they are in the source code and can be ripped out) so it should work similarly for community ChromeOS builds.

Firefox, with account containers.

> This isn't a bug, this is an explicit decision they made. It caused a bit of a stir at the time, but they went through with the change anyways.

> Personally for me it was the last straw, and I've since moved to Firefox.

Your security currently suffers if you choose Firefox over a Chromium variant.

This feels as shitty for me to write as it will to read.


Could you please elaborate?


I posted this as an independent post for visibility, and it was killed within minutes, can't even access it.

I understand the side of the debate that begs sticking with Gecko as an alternative etc etc, but, is it really off-topic here to show people the realistic comparison?

A Mozilla hard-fork of Chromium would be a huge kick in the nads, emotionally, but it certainly would accomplish many of the things Firefox would need to reinvent to hope for parity ever again.


I also moved away from Chrome around that time

I find many many websites are broken on firefox.

i don't find that, but maybe i am not using the same websites. can you give some examples?

This happened to me yesterday trying to buy Starlink Beta after getting the email from them that it's finally available in my city. I followed the link and couldn't fill out the credit card information. The form fields just didn't respond to typing. I turned off uMatrix and turned off Firefox tracking protection, and still nothing. Switched to Edge and it worked fine.

I can't give you any specific examples, but as a Firefox user, I can tell you that many forms, especially e-commerce checkouts forms, are slightly broken in Firefox. They are often broken enough that you must switch to Chrome to submit a payment.

This really surprises me. I've used Firefox exclusively for years and have never not been able to complete an action because of it (unless it was my own fault - disabling required third party scripts, etc). Why can't you give examples - is it just memory, or something else?

It's never bigger places like Amazon, I've only had it happen on little shops like websites that sell Indie games. I don't remember which ones it's happened on, but it's happened a few times. I shouldn't have said "many," it's just that it's quite irritating when it happens.

So far the only thing that I've found to be broken is Google's Slideshow presentation mode.

Works fine for me. The only site that is broken for me if removeddit

I use Firefox containers with a work and a personal container. Each container can stay logged into separate google accounts, github accounts, etc. and keep them separated. It works pretty well.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/multi-account...


I started using this, but my impression of the usability is poor. E.g. I use GitHub both personally and for work, on the one hand containers are awesome because it handles the "staying logged in" really well, but on the other hand opening tabs and links is a nightmare that ends up with me duplicating every tab in the right container. I'd love it if I could say "this window is my work window, all tabs should open in work".

Have you found any way to deal with that?


Firefox profiles is an option, if you prefer to split accounts into different windows.

I use Firefox container tabs (for GitHub specifically) instead. It's lighter-weight and the UI is better. Container tabs are color-coded, so the different accounts are easy to distinguish.

Or you could use container tabs in multiple Firefox windows under a single Firefox profile.


the problem is to make sure that new tabs are opened in the right container.

i had this experience as well that often the wrong container was picked.

but maybe i am using the wrong workflow


I haven't seen that issue, but my use cases are pretty simple:

When I need to open a GitHub tab for my organization admin account, I open a new tab in my "work/admin" container first, then nav to GitHub. Child tabs are opened in the same container. This is 99% of my usage.

Following an incidental link from elsewhere to GitHub will open in the default account/primary container (or "no container"). Or, you can right-click and select "Open in New Container Tab > Container X" if you are aware of the need to switch accounts ahead of time...(and if you are not, there's "Reopen in Container > Container X").

I don't use the multiple-windows/multiple-containers model. There might be an extension for "open all tabs in this window in container X" though.

I use Profiles and multiple windows when the separation is important, and Containers in the same window when the separation is merely convenient.


one problem for me is opening links from the outside, like from emails, into the right container. there is no UI to choose the container before the link is opened.

this is also a problem with using multiple profiles in different windows


Yes.. what you want is Temporary Containers, it can be used in conjunction with Multi Account Containers above.

https://medium.com/@stoically/enhance-your-privacy-in-firefo...

You can get it to open things with the same subdomain in the same container, or force it to do differently by holding down control for example. I have mine configured like so:

https://github.com/dngray/user.js/tree/fx-desktop#global-iso...


Few things:

- Middle click the Plus button to open a new tab in the same container directly adjacent (instead of at the end) to the current one.

- https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/simple-tab-gr... allows you to have different groups open within a browser window and switch between them. You can enforce a particular container per group. It may allow different "groups of groups" per window, so you can just use one group per window but use it to enforce the container.

- https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/search-and-sw... allows you to type e.g. "co work" in the omnibox to switch containers from the keyboard.


I'm using the Simple Tab Groups plugin [0]; you can have two separate windows, each with a different group selected, and you can associate a group with a container. Alternatively, I prefer having only one window, and switch between the groups as needed.

[0] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/simple-tab-gr...


Not OP, but: - long clicking the + for a new tab lets you select a container - right click Open in New Container - links opened from a container stay in the container

With those, it seems to cover my use cases.


Cool this sounds great!

I'm a containers early adopter and have 38 containers (just counted them) that are highly configured. There are many extensions that not only honor containers but allow for detailed customization.

That said, even just the "built-in" Multi-Account Containers will allow you to pin a domain to a particular container - i.e. amazon.com will always open in a Shopping container, wellsfargo.com always in Banking, slack, github, netlify always in Work, twitter only in Social Media, Gmail and YouTube in Google, etc.

Containers themselves are effectively just a label and a (limited) privacy sandbox. So far I have experienced no performance hit nor other issues so I create new Containers at will. Thus if you have 6 gmail accounts you can create Google1, Google2, and stay logged into all of them all of the time.

Additionally, I use the Cookie Auto Delete extension to only persist specific cookies to specific containers while all other cookies are wiped. I can maintain my YouTube subscriptions in a container that stays logged in my primary gmail account while being able to also watch other random videos in my Random container without polluting my real account history.

For work I have about 6 different accounts that I can be actively logged-in with; each tab is a different user with an entirely different role (for testing) and all can exist side-by-side.

As other have mentioned, you can always right click on any link from any container and open that link in a different container.

For me there is no going back to "standard" browsing. I can remain independently logged in to whatever I choose and feel confident those cookies are segregated from any other browsing activity. (obviously my IP is the same and some forms of fingerprinting surely still manage to track me in some manner)

Recently I added the Containerise extension which allows for even greater granularity with the always-open-in-a-container feautre: it allows for subdomain & even regex-based url rules. So, for example, console.aws.amazon.com can open in an AWS container (logged in my work email) while amazon.com can open my Shopping container (logged in with my personal email).

TLDR - containers plus extensions are extremely flexible and powerful


Does anyone know if the privacy.firstparty.isolate setting is any less effective than containers? It certainly is easier to use, since you don’t have to make choices about what goes in each container.

This is great. Is there any other browser that supports this sort of isolation as well? Not saying I can't use Firefox, but just wanted to know!

This might not be the answer your looking for, but i do this with just the chrome profile-directory command line flag to have a separate chrome for personal, work, and sometimes one for testing or contract work.

The only downside or issue i've run into is when some application wants to use some web login and it just launched the default browser. sometimes copy and pasting the url into the browser with the profile i want to use works, sometimes not.


"Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"

https://www.rogerebert.com/features/henny-youngman-doctor-it...

In all seriousness, I recommend a browser that takes privacy seriously. It's a spectrum -- but for me, Firefox is the right answer.

Compartmentalization via containers and/or profiles (and content filtering with uBlock Origin) is the only way to browse the modern web.


Any idea about brave/vivaldi?

They effectively rely on Chrome to do all the heavy lifting, and have to manually undo or alter any "bad" move Google makes. And of course they do nothing for the health of the web at large, since they keep users locked into the Chromium engine. Vivaldi is not even fully opensource, although I admit it is the one I keep around for testing compatibility with the Chrome world.

To make Chrome stop doing this, go to "Settings" > "Sync & Google Services", then switch off "Allow Chrome Sign-In".

Or delete chrome and install Firefox.

There is a non-zero chance that out there somewhere is a Google team using the number of times someone clicked that setting off as a drinking game.

...are you saying you've had the setting turn itself back on? That hasn't happened to me.

I think the implication is that the corporate minions knowingly inflict and delight in our suffering.

Google Chrome supports "people" as an identity, a set of discrete logged in or not logged in runtime instances. I run three all the time: me@gmail, me@personaldomain and me@work.

The cost is pane switching. The upside is, having chrome logged in means I get persisting clean history when I want it.


Not sure I follow fully. I agree with the clean history but what if, as a user, I have multiple Google accounts and I simply login to my other accounts from time to time to check on things? Google "adds" that other account, and the process of removing it is really confusing. I don't recall doing it successfully without logging out first.

This seems to be a very common use case among my friends as well - they all have at least 3 Google accounts out of which they only use one account for chrome linking.


I do the same thing as OP - I have multiple separate containers, each has its own set of cookies, and its own Google account that it is logged into. I just change my window when I want to use a different account.

From what I understand, you're asking how you can just "temporarily" log into an account — can't you just add that account as a new user on Chrome?

If not, you can always open an incognito window or a guest window, do your business, and close it. I do that often when I'm logging into an account that I don't want to persist.


Then make each chrome account a different person tab and you won't accidentally pollute or cross pollinate your state. If you don't want using Chrome for Gmail (excellent js Gui) to pollute search and other work, might need to see if this kind of segmented behaviour works. Otherwise its two browser types: Chrome for one tab of mail and ephemeral tabs for clicked out of mail, and ff for everything else?

This is exactly what I would expect to happen - and if you imagine being a typical user, what they would expect too.

I used incognito windows to log into Google services back when I used Chrome.

Now I use Brave, and it has a feature that prevents logging in browser-wide just because you signed in to a given Google service, IIRC.

(I still use incognito though, mostly out of habit and an obsessive desire to manage my "history" - I do all fresh searches and follow all links through incognito and only move things into the normal window when I want it to be in my history / findable later)


"Why hasn't Google 'fixed' this 'bug' that gives them access to so much more of my valuable data?"

I'm already logged in through one account, not sure if there is any value in tracking other accounts there are used so rarely anyway.

Do you remember the class-action lawsuit recently where people claimed that Google still tracks you in incognito mode - meaning that Chrome's incognito mode worked exactly as you or I would expect, but if you happen to visit sites with Google Analytics or Google Ads in a single incognito session, those products will leave cookies in that session exactly as you or I would expect?

The average person does not draw a meaningful distinction between a Google login button in the browser and a Google login button on a website. The least confusing UX actually is to avoid the situation where you log into your Google account for e.g. Gmail and then Chrome says "You're logged out."

As others have mentioned, Firefox container tabs are fantastic for solving this (I have a separate "Google" tab, so my normal browsing remains logged out), and I think those of us who care about these things owe it to the world to use Firefox.


The time to abandon chrome was when they took steps to hurt ublock.

This is a step (of transparency) the browser takes to reflect a google login happening. On any website. Including gmail. Including stackoverflow. It doesn’t transmit browser data.

Next step once people are used to this is to upload browser data. With excuses like that is what the user understands already.


You should consider leaving Gmail instead. I have been migrated most of my stuff away from Gmail to Fastmail. What I like about Fastmail is that its custom domain and IMAP support is first-class instead of an afterthought, it doesn't mine my email for purchases/trips/other, its web UI really is better, and I don't worry about my account being cancelled with no recourse. (No association, just a happily paying customer).

Surprised no one mentioned Microsoft’s new Edge browser. It’s based on Chromium engine but without a lot of those recently annoying features of Chrome

It's a good browser that's for sure. But the lack of google integration the way chrome does it kinda kills it for me. Might as well just use chrome.

This has been a feature ever since 69 I believe. I also believe that 71 introduced a setting to disable.

That's when I switched most of my devices to Firefox.


I stopped using Chrome a while ago precisely because I was bothered with this "feature".

In a more general way, I don't think that a company should be allowed to own such a large part of the internet (Android + Google + Youtube + Gmail + Maps + Chrome etc.) that is waaay too much.


Remember when microsoft had antitrust suits for the mere bundling of explorer? And how how much less nefarious that was!

> Is it time to say goodbye to Chrome in favor of [other frontends for Blink where you can keep helping Google shore up their ability railroad the web standards process]?

For real, how is Firefox not on the list of browser options?


look. I have been using an internet browser since 2005. Each an every day. Then since 2008, i have used an iphone and for the past 4 years used an android because i couldnt afford apple. Never in these years i have had the desire to "keep my bookmarks in sync". Absolutely never. I just don't get the appeal of the "sync" features. I remember apple introducing it long time ago with "your open tabs are available everywhere" and i was like "why would i even want that".

Same for passwords. i have been using a keepass file to keep everything in one place and its not like i have to change every password every day that it needs to be in sync 24x7.

Just so you know, i spend almost 90 hours a week infront of my desktop/laptop/phone so i use a browser a lot, just not "connected" features.

I personally see this as a solution to a problem that doesnt exist. Look, why should a person who has only one phone need a syncing tool? to sync to what? I have my phone which is using firefox focus so that is that but i also have regular firefox but it is just another dumb browser. I use kdeconnect which gets me everything i need.

I last time asked why don't these newfang browser makes not adopt firefox as their codebase instead of chrome and the general consensus was "yada yada yada its too difficult, oh chrome so fun and easy" and then you have yesterdays' brave tor dns leak news which tells me exactly why the tor project chose firefox instead of "chromium".


Just because you (unique use case) don't see the problem doesn't mean it does not exist (for the common average user). The whole browser "sync" you get with Chrome is much more than keeping your bookmarks. It is a feature that now includes Google's ecosystem and for its users, the majority of people, it allows them to pick up where they left from. A major advantage in user experience.

Firefox has a long way to catch up to the polish & convenience of Chromium-based browsers. This is just a sad fact.

As for Brave, I won't give divulge too much to the recent tor dns leak news. Anyone knowledgeable enough to be using Tor knows the dangers of using a different browser from Tor and it's consequences.


Try the Brave browser

There are people out there that only have one Google account and don't care too much about data collection, but for the rest of us, there is no reason that bookmarks should be tied to Gmail, Google Analytics, and YouTube.

This, and the lack of temporary container browsing makes Chrome a pretty tough sell for power users.

> Is it time to say goodbye to Chrome in favor of Brave, Vivaldi, etc. ?

Yes.


I gave up. I really did try. I did firefox. I did containers. I had no script. I had adblock. You name it.

My browsing experience and pleasure of using the internet significantly improved because I didn't need to screw around with some setting somewhere to the site to work. You know what? They won. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

I really wish we could but i just can't stand having to increase the maintenance of my life just because I I'm afraid me, among the myriad of billions whom do the same, is somehow special to being tracked.


After many years of Chrome, then Brave, I've been on Firefox (M1 Mac) for a few months now with not a single issue. If you don't sign into Google properties then there's no problem. If you do then there is.

The thing to dump is not Chrome, but Google (ideally both but ymmv).


That’s not really a fair comparison. Firefox with default settings + ublock works fine just about everywhere.

Edit: also, leaving incognito on all the time still doesn’t break much of anything, and gives most of the privacy benefits of the other stuff you mentioned.


I haven't had any issues with website compatabilities in Firefox for at least four or five years. What were you encountering?

I've been using a separate browser for sites that I log into -- like Gmail, Twitter, etc.

It's not foolproof, but it separates at least some of my identity from my browsing history.


If you care about your privacy, why are you using google products?

I have up on chrome and now use edge. It works on all os and doesn't contain Google tracking.

The day this feature landed in Chrome I switched to Firefox.

There's a very quick fix for this -- install firefox :-D

This is the exact reason why I switched to Firefox!

> why does Google do nothing about it?

I think you know.




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