If you maintain more than one Gmail account – i.e. one for personal use, the other for online shopping and games, maybe another for when you wish to remain anonymous – you’re aware that switching between them is a pain in the-you-know-what. That’s because Google won’t let you log in to another Gmail box unless you’re signed out from the current one.

In order to rectify this, Google on Wednesday rolled out a new capability allowing you to grant folks access to your Gmail box. This is known as email delegation, an indispensable feature when you want to switch between multiple accounts without signing out or have someone read or respond to messages on your behalf.

Here’s how to control other Gmail accounts besides your own:

  • click the Settings link in the top right corner of Gmail
  • click the "Accounts" tab
  • in the "Grant access to your account" section type in Gmail addresses you wish to control 

If the recipients approve access to their account, you’ll be able to toggle between the accounts using a small down arrow next to your email address at the top right corner of the Gmail web interface.

An example from Google’s blog post assumes you’ve given hikingfan@gmail.com access to the hikingfanfamily@gmail.com account: 

Each account will open in a different browser tab or window so you can view both accounts simultaneously, all while signed into your primary account. When you send a message from hikingfanfamily@gmail.com while signed in as hikingfan@gmail.com, it will appear as being sent by hikingfan@gmail.com on behalf of hikingfanfamily@gmail.com. 

This feature has actually trickled down from Google Apps where it’s been available to groups and small businesses for awhile. It’ll come in handy for informal groups of people, among friends, and for family members that use Gmail. Also, it’s a time-savior for those that maintain more than a single Gmail account. Of course, should you at any time change your mind, you can always revoke access to your account.

Source: The official Gmail blog