Recovering YouTube Channel Account

I recently tried to login into my Google account that hosts my YouTube channel. I had set the channel up a few years ago, and only used it once, so I had forgotten the e-mail address associated with it. Google however, lets you login using your channel name so that is what I tried to do. The problem was that since I had set up the channel, I also added a gmail address with the same username.

To my surprise, whenever I tried to login into my YouTube channel, it logged me into the gmail account, and that account had no YouTube channel. After some forum posts, a lot of research and trying a lot of things, I finally recovered my YouTube channel. For those in the same boat, there is a way to recover your YouTube channel, but the standard advice is a bit sketchy, and doesn’t really help without an understanding of what is going on. Here is how Google handles accounts:

Google Account Rules

The way Google sets up accounts, you provide a username and an e-mail address. The wrinkle is the fact that gmail accounts are also Google accounts. What is not obvious, is that they are set up the same as any other Google account – the username is the unique part of the gmail account. To further compound the confusion is that Google will let you have both an account using your own e-mail address and a gmail account with the same username. For example, I can set up the following two accounts:

  • user: scott, e-mail: scott@myurl.com, password: pass1
  • user: scott, e-mail: scott@gmail.com, password: pass2

Now, when you try to login into Google with the username of scott, Google tries to be clever and will match the account based on the password. If you forgot the password to say the first account, and give the password to the second account (because that is what you are using these days), you get logged into the second account, and seem to be forever locked out of the first account.

The standard advice for this problem is to change the password for the second (gmail) account, and then to not use it for the first account. This advice is puzzling if you don’t know what is going on, and it doesn’t work if the accounts already have different passwords. In fact, the advice is not very useful in that if the two accounts have the same password, Google can’t figure out which one to use and will ask you to specify the full e-mail address for the account you want.

So what if you can’t remember the e-mail or the password? That was my problem. I thought I knew both, but I didn’t know either one. How then do you recover your YouTube channel account?

Recovering Your YouTube Channel Account

Follow these simple steps:

  • Go to YouTube and log out of all Google accounts.
  • Go to the login page, and click the link: Can’t access your account?
  • In the following page, enter your Channel name and click Submit
  • In the next page, you will be asked for the e-mail address attached to that account. It will also include a few letters of the address as a hint. Enter the e-mail address that you set the account up with. If you can’t remember from the hint, keep trying different possibilities until you find the one that matches – no harm is done for trying wrong ones.
  • Once you enter the correct e-mail, you will get a message with a link to the recovery page where you can specify a new password. You now have access to your account.

Hopefully, you will recover your lost YouTube channel. The only thing you absolutely must have is the e-mail address you used to setup the account, and Google will give you a hint for it. It can also use your mobile phone number if you have given it to Google, but I personally don’t like Google to have that much information about me.

One thing to be aware of however, is if you give your YouTube account the same password as your Gmail account of the same name, you will no longer be able to login to Google using just your username. You will need to provide the e-mail address of the desired account instead.

Recovering YouTube Channel Account by Provide Your Own is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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