From the Android Forums: Multiple Google accounts on one device for Google Play

Super Turtleman asks in the Android forums,

My kids are getting to the age where they're about to start having Android devices. I'd like to create a master account I can have on my phone (separate from my current google account) that I can use to download apps onto my kid's devices. Is there a simple way to do this? Can I have two different google accounts on one device and have them not interfere with each other?

Lucky kids! We think it's great that you're exposing your children to Android, and even better that you're exploring options to provide them with awesome games and apps. The good news is, what you want to do is easy!

Open Google Play on your device, and tap the action bar (or menu button, as the case may be), and select "Accounts" from the list. A new window will open, listing the current active Google accounts in use on your phone or tablet. If the account you want to use is not listed, tap the "Add account" button and follow the prompts to add a new or existing Google account. Make sure this account is selected when purchasing an app, and the app will be available on any Android device using the account in question.

Add this account to your child's Android devices, select in in Google Play, then download and install all the apps you have purchased. It's worth noting that you can tell the Google Play app that you only want to purchase apps or media, or make in-app purchases, by using a PIN. This keeps the kids from being able to charge up your account, and allows you to monitor applications being bought.

It's not quite device profiles, but it's a good way to do what you're looking for. 

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Thanks for answering my question Jerry and for correcting "Android Market" to Google Play (still can't get used to that). This is exactly what I was looking for.
  • I wish there was a way to move all my purchases to another account so I could do this. I got my phone 2 years ago and didn't think at the time that I would be getting tablets for my kids. Now I have 2 (on top of my phone and tablet) and wish I didn't have to put my main account on each to get my purchased apps on those devices. Anyone know of a way to move purchased apps to a different Google account?
  • Is there any way to prevent the other device from accessing YOUR gmail account and only allow access to the play store?
  • I think that's the question to be answered.
  • This is actually a major problem that google has to fix. I want to share my purchases with all 4 other android devices in my home so i don't have buy them again. Some of the devices are for kids and they don't need to see my email and contacts I just want to share the purchased apps. I'm thinking of creating a general account that will have a CC on it and just use that for app purchases and nothing else. But purchases made in the Play Store should not be tried with a gmail account it should be separate.
  • I employ Google Apps for Domain and have a general "family" account for sharing purchased apps then configured that family account on each phone. Nothing else is shared--no email, contacts and calendar. That solved the issue of other family members having access to contacts and emails. On my teen's phone, I configured "pin access" in Google Play so that no authorized charges are made to my credit card. BTW, a factory reset will need to be done if you want to change the primary account Google Play is associated with on the phone.
  • I was able to avoid a factory reset in the following manner, but I had two G-mail accounts defined on my phone. G-play automatically links to the 1st account put on your phone and that was the one that I didn't want it linked to. I just didn't know any better on day 1. So I removed that 1st account and when I opened up the G-play app, it asked me to confirm my 2nd account. I could then redefine my 1st account and sync everything up. HOWEVER, because of the app segregation behavior mentioned in other comments, apps already downloaded via my 1st account stayed linked to that account. Only never-before downloaded apps would be associated with my desired 2nd account.
  • I actually have this set up and I set it not to sync to avoid the other phone getting GMail or other things synced though they can still access it if they do it manually. The one issue I'm having is Google Talk is being received on both phones. Any way to stop this?
  • The best way is to create a gmail account that you don't care about, that is not used for email communication, gtalk, etc. And use this account as a "app" account to get placed on all your devices, kids devices, etc. That way the sole purpose of this account is to sync purchased apps, and is not compromising security of your email, calendar, etc.
  • My wife and I considered that, but she didn't get an android phone until nearly 2 years after I did, so I have quite a few more apps than her... just sucks to have to repurchase so many of them.
  • I'd been thinking of doing this for magazine purchases so both my wife and I can read on our tablets.
  • A completely agree with you.
  • its very good
  • Amojeba, that is the best way to go. But as stated, when you're not all going android at the same time, it's tough to do.
  • Ok
  • I want to share my device with my wife so I've created new, main Google account for my tablet and added 2 personal Google accounts - just like it was proposed in this short tutorial. We use this account to download apps, games, use chrome (because the mobile version doesn't support multi users like the desktop one and we don't want to share our addons and bookmarks) But i still have one problem - using the Gmail app (and others) on the tablet i can choose among 3 accounts (main, mine and my wife's) but there are no restrictions in accessing each of them - i would like to be forced by the app to input my password (or some pin number) every time i chose to change the Gmail account (I don't want it to be open and accessible to every person using the tablet). As far as I'm concerned - android doesn't support user profiles like Windows for example but have anyone tried "SwitchMe Multiple Accounts" application offered for free (there is also paid version) on Google Play?
  • Unless I'm missing something this article is _very_ misleading. If I add my account to the phone then that phone can, for example, use google talk as me, read and send email as me and so on. That's a long, long way from what you'd want on your child's phone! It's pretty unsatisfactory for my wife's phone -- although I trust her, I really don't want all my conversations via google talk appearing in her notification and neither does she. But we do want to share app purchases, as does my li'l daughter. Is there really no way of adding my google account so that it's only used for the play store? If not that's pretty poor for Android in a family environment :-(
  • Ty
  • I need some help! I'm checking out Google Play Music on a trial basis, and I love it and plan to purchase it after the trial. However, I got it through my work account and when I retire in June, that account will be deactivated. I have another gmail account that I rarely use and I'd like to "transfer" my new app to it.
    How would I accomplish this?
  • If you have more than one google account, will the other be notified if u purchase an app on the opposite account? Made an account for my sister cuz shes always blowing up my e-mail.