Getting locked out of your email because of a forgotten password can be frustrating, but if you set up your recovery options, unlocking your email is easy and fast. You can use your mobile phone number or even another email address in your recovery options.
Whether you use Gmail, Outlook, or another email account, they almost all have a way to recover your email account in the event you forget your password. I highly recommend you take care of this if you haven’t already.
In this article, I’ll cover Gmail and Outlook specifically. If you use something else, the procedure I cover should be similar for any email account to accomplish this task. If not, you may need to search online for specific instructions. Don’t put this off; it is very important you take the time to do this.
Let’s start with Gmail first. If you have a mobile phone, this will be very helpful, making the process easy and fast.
Open your Gmail and once it is open, in the upper-right corner, click the sprocket icon and from the drop-down menu, click “Settings.” Once the settings page opens, at the top, click “Accounts and Import.” Next to: “Change account settings,” click “Change password recovery options.”
Scroll down until you see the Account Recovery options box. Here you will enter an email address, other than your Gmail address or a phone number, preferably a mobile number that receives texts. I recommend you enter both a phone number and an alternate email address.
Let’s do the phone number first. Click “Recovery Phone” and you may need to sign into your account afterwards. Next, click the “Add recovery phone” link and then add your mobile phone number. Next, click the “Verify” button and then click “Get code.” Look at your phone and a text will be sent to you almost immediately. Enter the code and then click “Verify.” This code will only be used once so you do not need to keep it. I recommend you checkmark the box: “Use this number to alert me of suspicious account activity.” Click “Continue” and click the back arrow above where it states: “Recovery phone.”
Now scroll down and do the same thing for a recovery email address. This time, you will need to check your email once you have the code sent to you. Remember, you must use a different email address other than the Gmail you are trying to secure. After you have finished, you can close the open windows and go back to your inbox.
Setting the recovery options in Outlook is similar. A note about your Outlook interface: Some of you may be on a different Outlook version and the instructions may not be exactly as stated, but they should be close enough for you to surmise where to go and what to do.
Open your Outlook email and in the upper-right corner, click the chosen profile picture and then click “View account” or “Account settings.” Next at the top, click “Security & privacy.” To the left under Account security, click “More security settings.” You will have to enter your email password again for access. Below, click the “Add security info” link. A box will open and you will select to add a mobile phone number in the provided box. You can choose to verify your number with a text or a call. Click Next after you make your choice. Enter the code that comes to you as a text.
If you select “Call,” get ready because the automated caller speaks a little fast and you may miss it. It’s OK to write it down and then enter it. Once done, go back to “Add security info” and add an alternate email address by clicking the first drop-down menu and continuing in the same manner as the text instructions.
If you ever change your phone number or your email address, remember to go back and change your recovery options. This is also critical to being able to unlock your account should you forget your password.
For more than 15 years, Scott Lindsay has helped tens of thousands of people better their skills, publishing more than 400 articles about Apple and Microsoft software, the computer and the internet. You can reach Scott for comments or questions at ScottLindsay@live.com