A friend of my aunt says that she is still logged in to her Google account (or at least going to google.com says so) but she cannot simply access her mailbox as she used to. Clicking 'Gmail' on google.com, going to her mailbox from browsing history, going to mail.google.com all redirect her to https://www.google.com/intl/en/gmail/about/. From there she cannot access her email, because this website looks as if she was not logged in - the only available buttons are 'Sign in' or 'Create an account'.

The problem is, that she cannot simply sign in again. She says her password stopped working a long time ago. She tried to access her mailbox from her tablet, but despite entering the correct password (she insists the password was 100% correct) she was still getting messages about wrong password. So she figured out her password stopped working for some reason and so she said she made certain to never log out of her Google account, because she knew she would have problems logging in again. She insists the password she has written on a sheet of paper is the correct one and is up to date - she has not changed her password in the meantime. She says that 100% no one has changed her password. She has not attempted to use her access to her Google account to change the password and regain full control over her account. Older people's behavior can be incredible!

Now she cries she cannot access her important emails. She phones me over and over how can she bypass https://www.google.com/intl/en/gmail/about/ and reach her mailbox? I do not know what should I tell her.

I tried logging in to my Google account and went to https://www.google.com/intl/en/gmail/about/ - oddly, this site looked like I was not logged in, even though I was logged in - but in my case going to mail.google.com led to my inbox and not to this dreaded https://www.google.com/intl/en/gmail/about/ again. On the other hand, while I was logged out of Gmail, going to gmail.com redirected me to the login page and not https://www.google.com/intl/en/gmail/about/ , so what she says happens to her seems odd to me.

I can see the following options:

  • Attempt to sign in again, with the old password (maybe despite her insistence she did mistype that password that time anyway?) - but will this not lead to her definitely and completely losing access to her account if the password is indeed incorrect?
  • Use Google's account recovery option - but given that, according to her words, her password stopped working a long time ago, will this option not be fruitless and will it again not lead to completely losing access to her account?
  • If she's still indeed logged in (or 'half logged in', if that's possible...), should she not attempt to use whatever access she already has to escalate to full control over her account? But how to do this??

What should be done in such a situation? The immediate concern seems to be to at least recover the emails she still has there.


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