Hmm… was that a 9 or a 6? An "I" or an "L"? Was it upper-case or lower-case? Let's face it, making up good passwords on the Internet, keeping track of what they're all used for, and occasionally changing them to keep your accounts secure means that you'll probably forget one of them sooner or later. If that one happens to be to your Gmail account, here's what to do.
To Reset a Gmail Password
Go to www.gmail.com in your web browser. Now, instead of logging in (because we'll assume that you can't), click Need Help?
A new screen will pop up where Google will ask you why you're having trouble signing in. Click the button beside "I Don't Know My Password", and then click in the new box that appears and type in your Gmail email address. Then click Continue. This will take you through several different options that you can use to reset your account password.
Resetting your Password by entering a Previous Password
If you have changed your password before on your Gmail account, Gmail will ask you to type in the last password that you remember. Click in the text box highlighted below, and then type in a password that you remember using for your Gmail account. Then click Continue. If you can't remember which passwords you've used for Gmail, click I Don't Know.
Resetting your Password with a Mobile Device that Previously Accessed Gmail
If you have a mobile device from which you have accessed Gmail before (smart phone, tablet computer, etc.), you can tell Gmail to send a specialized notification to that device that will allow you to reset your password. Click Send Notification, or if you can't get to your device or use it for some reason (e.g. the battery is out of juice), click I Can't Access My Device.
Resetting your Password using a Previously-Registered (Mobile) Phone
You may also be able to get the notification to reset your password if you have a phone number registered in Gmail. Click either of the buttons to decide whether you want to receive the notification through a text message or an automated phone call, and then click Continue. Or, if you can't get to your phone or can't use it for some reason (e.g. the battery is out of juice), click I Can't Access My Phone.
Resetting your Password with a Previously-Submitted Alternate Email Address
If you have an alternate email address registered in Gmail, you can send an email to that account with instructions on how to reset your password by clicking Continue on this screen.
Verify Your Identity to Reset Your Gmail Password
If all of these recovery options don't work, you can click Verify Your Identity when it appears.
Gmail will now ask you a series of questions to help verify that you're really someone who is locked out of their own account, and not someone trying to break into someone else's account.
First, click in the top box and type in an email address that Gmail can use to contact you if they need to. You can use an address for another email website (like Yahoo Mail) that you have access to, or you can use a friend or family member's email… just make sure that you tell them what you're doing first so that they don't think their own Gmail account (if they have one) has a problem! Then, click in the bottom box and re-type the email address. When you're done, click Continue.
Next, Gmail will ask you about when you created your account, as well as when the last time you remember logging into it was. Click and select the months from each of the drop-down menus, and then click in the "Day" and "Year" boxes and type the respective information in (or you can use the little arrows within the boxes to scroll up and down the numbers). If you don't remember either of these dates, just put in your best guess. When you're done, click Continue.
Next, Gmail will ask you questions about how you used it. The first set of boxes will allow you to input up to five addresses to which you sent email frequently. Click in each box and type in any email addresses that you remember.
The second set of boxes allows you to input the names of any custom labels that you created (but not default ones like "Spam", "Trash", "Inbox", and "Sent Mail"; everybody has these, so they won't help identify your unique account). Click in each box and type in the names of any custom labels that you remember.
The box in the third section allows you to put in an email address that you used (or could use) as a backup to Gmail. If you have an account with an alternate email service, it might be a good idea to click the box here and type its address in; Gmail might recognize it.
If you don't remember any of this information, you can just try putting in your best guesses, or you can click Skip These Questions if you draw a total blank. Otherwise, when you're done, click Continue.
Finally, Gmail will ask you if you have used any other Google products that you might have accessed with your Gmail account, and when you started using them.
There are four sets of boxes, so you can select up to four services and dates for each of them. In each row, click the leftmost box and select a Google service from the drop-down menu, then click the middle box and select a start month from the drop-down menu, and then click the rightmost box and type in a start year (or click the little arrows inside this box to scroll up and down the numbers).
If you can't remember the exact dates that you started using these services, just put in your best guess. Also, if you haven't used any other Google products (or don't think you have, or they aren't listed in any of the drop-down menus), then don't bother doing any of this. In any case, click Submit when you're done.
You will now have a choice of how you wish Google to contact you in order to fix the problem.
The first method is by phone. Click the flag icon and select your country's flag from the drop-down list (this is so Google will know what country code to apply to your phone number) and then click in the box beside it and type in a phone number at which Google can reach you. Then click Call Me Now. You should get a phone call from a Google representative within a few minutes. They will walk you through the process of resetting your password and getting back into your account.
The other method is by getting Google to talk to the company that supplies your Internet connection. If you use this method, you will have to enter information in all three sections.
First, click inside the box in the first section and type in any other information that you remember about your Gmail account. This could be custom labels or folders that you created, emails that you received recently, what your signature was, or anything else that could help someone tell it apart from any other account.
In the next section, Google will ask you if there is anywhere else where you can get email from your Gmail account, even though you're locked out. This might be the case if you can automatically log into Gmail through an application on your mobile device (like a smart phone or tablet computer) or through another email service such as Microsoft Outlook. Click the respective button beside "Yes" if you can, "No" if you can't, or "I Don't Know" if this whole thing totally confuses you (which is fine; Google won't judge you, and neither will we).
In the final section, Google will ask you for the name of your Internet service provider, or ISP. This is the telecommunications company that supplies your Internet connection, and that periodically sends you a bill asking you to pay for it. Google lists some common ones: Shaw, Verizon, ComCast, Time Warner Cable, Rogers/Bell (if Canadian), etc. Click in the box here and type in the name of your ISP. When you have completed all of these sections, click Submit.
That's pretty much all the help we can give you with resetting your Gmail password. The rest is up to you and Google. Good luck!