Chrome Browser vs Google Account

Written by Nathaniel Strauss

Last published at: August 24th, 2021

The purpose of this article is to clarify the difference between the Chrome Browser account and a Google account.  These are commonly mistaken to be the same thing, but in actuality are different and perform different functions.

When using the Chrome browser, it is easy not to notice that the browser uses a Google account to manage properties of Chrome, while you can also be logged into a Google account within the browser.

Review the screenshot below.  See the two Snoopy icons?  The one on top represents the Chrome browser account.  The lower of the two is the Google account that is currently logged in.

Next, let's review this screenshot.  Notice that there is now one Snoopy on top, and a photo icon below it. 



What's going on? The Chrome browser is logged into my work account (@shakopeeschools.org).  But, I am logged into Google with my personal account. Here's another view of that scenario, showing both Google accounts and the option to switch between them.


What does each account do and why does it matter? The Chrome browser account defines settings such as bookmarks and extensions as well as features enforced by district IT. We require district devices to be logged into the Chrome browser.

The Google account is what allows you to access services such as Drive, Gmail, Calendar, and so on. You can be logged into multiple Google accounts within the browser, as shown above. However, you can't be logged into multiple Chrome Browser accounts (also known as profiles) at the same time. Being aware of this difference can also be helpful in troubleshooting problems such as missing bookmarks or issues with YouTube accounts.