Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Multiple sign-in for Blogger

juggling multiple accounts
Kasabyan Musal/USAF
In yet another sign that Blogger is getting some Google love, it's now possible to manage blogs in two different accounts (1) at the same time (2) from a single browser.

Multiple account sign-in has long been available for many Google services, such as Gmail.

I have (gulp) 3 active Gmail accounts. I can have all of them open at once on a single browser.

If I send email from my personal account, Google keeps things straight and does not attribute it to my Adam's Apples account.

We've never been able to do anything like that on Blogger. Complaints that "I can't find my blog on Blogger" or "Blogger says I don't have any blogs" are common on the Blogger Help Forum.

These reports come from bloggers who try to access Blogger but from the wrong account.

The fact that you can sign in to multiple Gmails only adds to the confusion. Just what account does Blogger think you mean, anyway?

Those in the know have been able to finesse this restriction by using two (or more) browsers and logging in to a different Blogger dashboard from each.

As of April 10, this is no longer strictly necessary. And yet, plenty of chances remain for confusion and misstep.

The Good

Today, you can have all your Blogger dashboards open at the same time.

If you only have one Blogger dashboard, you can open it even if you are using another Google service (such as Gmail or Photos or Google+) from a different account.

Tip: Check your account avatar to switch accounts.

The Bad

Unfortunately, multi sign-in has plenty of complexity and potential confusion.

Laocoon statue, men struggling with an entangling serpent
Things can get gnarly.
To begin with, while blogger.com, where your dashboard lives, has multi log-in, blogspot.com, which hosts your blog, does not.

You can be logged in to your dashboard on blogger.com, but effectively not when you view the blog itself.

The following consequences are possible if you are not logged in to the right account while viewing your own blog.
  • If you have the "quick edit" tools enabled for your blog, you nonetheless won't see them.
  • The email address displayed in the navbar will be yours, but not the one associated with the dashboard.
  • "Dashboard" in the navbar may be missing or, if present, will take you to the wrong dashboard.
  • "New Post" on the navbar may be missing.
  • If you have restricted access to your blog, you may get a screen message that the blog is not open to you. Even though it is your blog!
  • You can't add or switch accounts.
You can get around most of these by working exclusively though your dashboard. (Comments and private blogs and switching may require you to log out and back in again to the correct account; more below.)

Still, these are some potentially confusing signals from Blogger.

The Zero Account

So, if you are not logged into the right account on Blogspot, where are you?

You can see how Google tracks your multi-sign-ins by inspecting the url for each account. The urls refer to each account by number, starting with u/0.
www.blogger.com/u/0/blogger.g?...
www.blogger.com/u/1/blogger.g?...
www.blogger.com/u/2/blogger.g?...
The u/0 account may display as the old url, of the form www.blogger.com/blogger.g?.... The old form will still work, but it will always refer to the zero account.

Similarly, any other Google services that do not permit multi sign-in are only signed in to the zero account.

How does Google pick this zero account? Usually it's just the first account you signed into. Note that unless you sign out, you'll remain signed in to the same accounts indefinitely.

If you are in doubt, use the numbers, u/0 etc., (or old form) to track it down.

The Ugly

So, keep in mind that no matter where you may be on blogger.com (your dashboard), when you are on a blog domain (blogspot or custom), you are there as account zero.

If your dashboard is not account zero, and you go to your blog to reply to a comment, the comment you leave will be from your account zero identity. Not your dashboard identity.

The remedy is to sign completely out of Google and then sign in to your desired blogging account. Which will make that account into account zero for that session.

Switching accounts won't do it. You must sign out completely.

multitasking man
Keep everything straight.
Ryan Ritchie CC BY-ND 2
There's still no multiple-account sign in in Feedburner, either. Or AdSense. You will always be there as account zero.

(You probably don't use Feedburner directly, but it's how you manage the mailing list you get if you install Google's follow-by-email widget on your blog.)

Changing Account Zero

If you need a different account to be account zero, for instance to leave a comment in Blogger, you can change it. Sign completely out of Google and then in to the account you want (correct log-in credential required).

That will become account zero.

You can skip the sign out if you log in using an anonymizing browser window. The anonymous mode is called Incognito in Chrome and Private in Firefox and Safari.

When you start one of these anonymous sessions, Google thinks you are not logged in to anything at first. Then when you do log in to an account, it becomes account zero for that browser window only.

On Android, an Incognito window is the only method that works.

Essential Tips

Google is divided into two realms: the land of multi and the land of single. Single is ruled by Account Zero.

  • It's easy to get lost there. To find your way back, just log completely out of Google and then in to the account you want.
  • You can inspect the url in your browser bar for u/0 and so forth to keep track of what account Blogger thinks you are in.
  • If you have multiple accounts, give them unique avatars. This will help you to find your way.
  • Keep the sign-in credentials for all of your accounts written down in a safe place. Don't rely exclusively on your brain cells or your browser to remember user IDs and passwords.

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