How Do I Sign Up for GMail?
  1. Be prepared: you will need both the internet, and a phone, at the same time, in order to finish this signup. If you do not have your phone with you, you can sign up for ProtonMail instead.
  2. Point your web browser to
  3. Click on the Create account link.
  4. Choose for myself to create an email account for yourself.
  5. Click in the First name field and fill in your given name.
  6. Click in the Last name field and fill in your family name.
  7. Click in the Username field and fill in a new username that you make up for yourself.
    Note 1: your username will be the part of your new email address before the @ symbol. For example, if you fill in duckbilledpterodactyl for the username, and if GMail accepts this, your new email address would be
    Note 2: for technical reasons, usernames can't have spaces in them, and likewise many other punctuation and special characters are not allowed. The letters a-z and the digits 0-9 are always allowed, and GMail also allows you to have one period (.) in your username.
    Note 3: your username must be globally unique. If your name is Susan Roberts and you fill in susanroberts for your username, GMail will tell you that this name is already taken, because somebody else named Susan Roberts already signed up for GMail. In fact, GMail has billions of users, so unless your name is something genuinely unusual (Mehitabel K. Takedaimyoshiichirovichnyakovski van der Ng), you will almost certainly have to include something additional besides your name. Be creative. Or, if all else fails, let GMail add a bunch of numbers on the end.
  8. Click in the Password field and type in a password for your new GMail account.
    Note 1: The best way to make a password more secure, is to make it longer. Avoiding common names, dictionary words, and obvious sequences (abc, 123, qwerty, etc.) also helps, but nearly any password over 30 characters long is unlikely to be compromised by the common types of automated attacks, even if it's an easy to remember sentence.
    Note 2: Even if you don't care about security, your password still has to meet Google's minimum requirements. As of July 2020, this means it must be at least eight characters long and contain a mix of letters, numbers, and punctuation.
  9. Click in the Confirm field and type the same password in again.
    This is necessary to convince Google that you know what you typed. If the confirmation doesn't match the password, you will have to enter them both again.
  10. Click the Next link. Google will check everything you've typed in so far, to make sure it is ok.
  11. If Google hilights some of the fields you've filled out in red, this means you need to change what you typed into those fields.
    For example, if the username field is red, this usually means the username you wanted is already taken. If the password field is red, it means your password doesn't meet Google's minimum security requirements. Change whatever you need to change. Keep trying until you manage to find values that Google will accept.
  12. On paper, write down the following:
  13. Fill in the username and password that you ended up with, on the paper.
    Important Note: Passwords are always case-sensitive. This means that for example a and A are completely different characters. (When the computer does password-checking math, it counts a as 97, but A counts as only 65. So if you change the capitalization, the password won't add up to the same hash value, and the computer will think it's a different password — and different is wrong.) Also, spaces and punctuation are allowed, but they matter, and specifically they have to be reproduced exactly the same. (A space counts as 32. Yes, really.)
    If you typed Ithinkpasswordsaredumb but wrote down I THINK PASSWORDS ARE DUMB, and then some other day you try to log in by typing what you wrote down, the computer will tell you that your password is incorrect, and it will not give you access to your account. Make sure you write down exactly the same thing you typed, with exactly the same capitalization, punctuation, spaces, and everything, exactly. The computers aren't being mean on purpose, they're just nowhere near smart enough to understand when something means the same as something else, even if the computer remembered what your password was, which it doesn't: it remembers the answer to the password-checking math problem. So for the computer to understand that what you typed is the same password as the other time, it has to be really exactly the same.
  14. For the email address, write the username again and then add
  15. You will want to keep this paper somewhere safe, so that you can refer back to it if you ever lose track of your email account information. I usually recommend keeping it where you keep other important papers, such as your birth certificate.
    Some people think they won't forget their username and password. A few months later, they come to me for help. Invariably, they no longer have the phone they used when they signed up, and there is nothing I can do to help them. Don't trust your memory. Write your account information down and keep it in a safe place.
    Some people think they are never going to need email again, after they finish the thing they are currently doing that requires it. This doesn't generally work out the way they expected. Keep your email account. You'll probably need it again in a few weeks or months.
  16. Google will now ask you to verify your phone number. Unfortunately, this step is no longer optional. Enter your phone number and click the Verify link.
  17. By default, Google will assume that your phone is a cellphone, and will attempt to send you a text message, with a verification number that you need in order to proceed. Get the number from the text message. You will only need this number once, right now, to sign up.
  18. If for any reason you cannot receive text messages, you can click the Call instead link, and Google's computer system will call you and read your confirmation number over the phone twice. Enter the number into the verification code field and click the Verify button.
  19. The Recovery email address field is optional. If you don't already have an email account, you can just leave this field blank.
  20. Click the Month drop-down and select the month you were born.
  21. Click the Day field and type in the day of the month, that you were born
  22. Click the Year field and type in the year that you were born.
    (Type in all four digits. Computers are dumb. If you type 86, the computer will think you are claiming to have been born in the first century AD.)
  23. Click the Gender field and either specify your gender, or choose Rather not say.
  24. Click the Next link.
  25. Google will now offer to sign you up for additional services, using your phone number. However, you can always come back and sign up for these services later. For now, in the interests of keeping these instructions simple, just click the Skip link.
  26. At this point Google will show you their privacy policy and terms of usage. Read as much of it as you care about, scrolling down as needed. The short version is, they will definitely gather data from your email usage, and use it to decide what advertisements to show you. A lot of websites show Google advertisements, so if you exchange a lot of email with your AARP representative, you may see advertisements for retirement-related services on just about any website you visit.
  27. Once you reach the bottom of the policy, click the I agree link.
  28. Google will now take you to your GMail inbox, but will show an advertisement in front of it, for one of their other services. For now, click the Got it link to dismiss the advertisement.
  29. Congratulations, you have signed up for an email account. Take the piece of paper where you wrote your account information, and store it in a safe place.
  30. If you can't remember the information even right now and need to carry it with you, make a second copy. Carry one copy, and keep the other in a safe place.
How Do I Get My GMail?
The above sign-up procedure only has to be completed once, as long as you don't lose your account information. And you're not going to lose it, because the above instructions said to write it down and keep it in a safe place, and of course you listened and did that, because you immediately realized that you don't want to have to go through all that signup hassle again.
So now, whenever you want to get your email, you can follow these much shorter and simpler instructions:
  1. Point your web browser to
  2. Click in the Email or phone field, and type in your email address, that you wrote down when you signed up for email.
  3. Click the Next link.
  4. Click the Enter your password field and type in your password, that you wrote down when you signed up for email.
  5. Click the Next link.
  6. If you see a Protect your account message, check that your details are still correct. (If not, click the Update link to update them.) Once everything is correct, click the Confirm link.
  7. Google will now take you to your GMail inbox. This is a list of all the messages you have received. (The first time, you'll just have a Welcome message from Google.)
  8. To read one of the messages, click on the subject.