Like a lot of people, your online life is probably heavily tied to Google, from search and Gmail to Google Calendar and YouTube. Your PC, phone, and tablet may connect to your Google account. You might even own a Pixel or other Android phone that requires access to Google sites and services.
As a Google user, how can you keep all the information from your account in check so no one else can access it? Google itself tries to help with Security Checkup, a site that displays your security settings and connected devices so you can review them and make any necessary changes.
Let’s see how this works on the PC and mobile.
There is more than one way to view Google’s Security Checkup site. Using any browser, surf to a Google website, such as Google’s search page, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, or Google Play. Sign in with your Google account if prompted. Click your profile photo or icon in the upper right and select the button for Google Account. Alternatively, you can take a more direct route by just opening your Google Account site.
You’re now at the home page for your Google account. If Google has detected any potential security issues, the Security section says: “Security issues found.” In that case, click the link to Secure account. If no issues were discovered, the section instead says: “We keep your account protected.” In that case, click the Get Started link if you want to review the settings anyway.
Google breaks down the possible security issues and items into specific categories: Your devices, Recent security events, Third-party access, and Sign-in & recovery. A yellow exclamation point next to a category indicates one or more possible issues; a Green checkmark is a sign of a clean bill of health. However, you should still review all the categories. Let’s look at each one.
Select the category called Your devices. This category displays any devices currently signed in as well as devices that you haven’t used in a long time, such as an old Android phone or tablet that you may no longer own. To remove a device you no longer use, click the Remove button next to it.
To check on a device signed into your Google account, click the ellipsis button () next to it. If you’re unfamiliar with that device, click the entry for “Don’t recognize this device?” Google then prompts you to change your password. You can also simply remove the device from this menu.
If you change your password, you will have to sign back into all of your devices. As inconvenient as this may sound, it is an option you’ll want to take if you think that a device or password may have fallen into the wrong hands.
Back on the Security Checkup page, select the category for Recent security events. This category shows recorded events, if any, such as sign-ins with your Google Account on specific devices and changed passwords. Google will flag events that take place on different devices and will ask you to confirm whether or not this action was taken by you.
Respond to the question of whether or not you took these actions. If yes, Google will view the action as approved. If you don’t recognize a device or recent event, let Google know about it. You will then be prompted to change your password.
View every recent security event concerning your Google account and devices by clicking Show others at the bottom of the Recent security events section. If one or more events don’t look familiar, click the link at the bottom for “Don’t recognize an event?” In that case, Google will again prompt you to change your password.
Back on the Security Checkup page, select the category for Third-party access. This category raises a flag if you’ve enabled any third-party services to access your Google account. For example, if you set up access to Gmail through your email software, then that would be flagged as third-party access.
If you know for certain that you don’t use any Google services through a third-party app or account, click the Turn off button to disable that type of access.
Otherwise, select the entry to Show others to review each specific type of access. Click the Remove access button to disable access for any items you no longer use with a Google site or service.
Back on the Security Checkup page, choose Sign-in & recovery. If you have two-factor authentication enabled, you’ll likely see “2-Step Verification” instead.
Sign-in & recovery displays any recovery methods you’ve set up in case you’re ever locked out of your account. It may also show you all the trusted mobile devices you can use to verify your identity.
To set or change your recovery phone number, click the pencil icon next to that entry. You then need to enter your Google password to change the number. Do the same with your recovery email if necessary.
If you see any trusted mobile devices that you want to remove, click the Info icon for this entry. At the window, click the link for “recently used devices.”
At the page for Recently used devices, review each device to make sure you recognize it. If a device seems unfamiliar, click it to see more details, such as the version of Chrome and the last location used. If you can’t locate the device or are concerned about suspicious activity with it, click the link for Lost this device? You can also remove the phone immediately by clicking Remove.
Google asks for your password and then takes you to a page with events and other details related to that device. Scroll down the page. If everything looks okay, click the Looks Good button. Otherwise, click the link for Something Looks Wrong. You can then change your Google password or explore other options such as trying to call the phone, signing out of it, or contacting your carrier.
When you’re done, return to your Google Account page. You’ll find more settings by clicking the entry for Security on the left side of the screen. But the ones we’ve covered here are the core settings and should help you better protect your Google account and devices.