I'm helping my father today to update his Google account. Below is a step-by-step procedure of what we did, and where we got in trouble.


1.  The procedure step-by-step

First we logged in with his usual emailaddress [email protected]. We got into his Google account, and pressed on the icon representing the Gmail:

enter image description here

Google immediately showed us a message, encouraging us to add a Gmail to this Google-account. I've taken a screenshot, and added translations from Dutch to English in green ink:

enter image description here

As you can see, the username karelmulier is already in use! This is very worrying to us, because my father never created a gmail address. We fear that someone with bad intentions created this account on my fathers name.

I search for account recovery on Google, and got onto this link:


I get a form where I can fill in the 'lost' account that I want to recover. Here is a screenshot:

enter image description here

As you can see, Google claims that the account [email protected] doesn't exist.


2.  Our confusion

When I attempt to add the Gmail address [email protected] to my fathers existing account, Google refuses because it "is already in use". When I try to recover it (from some bad guy abusing my fathers name), Google tells me it doesn't exist.
How is this possible?

  • 1
    It’s possible someone used that gmail address before and deleted their account. This would prevent the username from being reused.
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 16:18
  • 4
    And it’s likely no one is abusing your father’s name. It’s more likely that someone with the same name created that email address a long time ago.
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 16:19

3 Answers 3


Short answer

Choose another username


While Gmail is free, it's a service from a private company. If they set algorithms that deny an email address there isn't anything that we could do to convince them to give you that email address.

Bear in mind that Google doesn't require that usernames match the name of the email address requester.

From https://support.google.com/mail/answer/56256?hl=en

The username I want is taken

You won't be able to get a certain Gmail address if the username you requested is:

  • Already being used
  • Very similar to an existing username (for example, if [email protected] already exists, you can't use [email protected])
  • The same as a username that someone used in the past and then deleted
  • Reserved by Google to prevent spam or abuse


Web Applications

Official Gmail Product Forum

  • Thank you @Rubén. Is there absolutely no way to reach google and get the email, perhaps by giving proof, like my fathers identity card?
    – K.Mulier
    Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 13:34
  • @K.Mulier AFAIK there isn't. I added some references to my answer. Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 16:15

According to a number of links returned by "periods in gmail email address," Gmail ignores periods in an email address. The two email addresses listed in the question are considered identical, which explains the "already in use" explanation.

Dots don't matter in Gmail addresses: (from Gmail support page)

If someone accidentally adds dots to your address when emailing you, you'll still get that email. For example, if your email is [email protected], you own all dotted versions of your address:

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

GMail doesn't let you pick a username which was in use in the past, but was deleted. It is quite possible that the original owner of the account deleted their account, meaning that the account doesn't exists but the name can not be reclaimed.

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