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Accessing Delegated Gmail Accounts on iOS Devices

This is about accessing delegated accounts (a special mode where one can allow others to access one's account) on iPhone and iPad devices.

Google has really messed this one up:

  • When using their dedicated Gmail app, there is no way to enter a delegated account at all.
  • When using Mobile Safari or 1Password's browser, one can almost get to it by switching to the Desktop (vs. Mobile) view, but then it fails to actually switch (it gets too many http redirects and eventually gives up).
  • And it's also a pain that I cannot paste a password copied from a password manager such as 1Password into the Login form any more (Google seems to steal the tap into the field, disabling the Paste popup that usually would appear), forcing me to use a simpler password than I would like to use because I simply cannot type every time the long and complex password that I preferred. Bad Google!

I managed to find a solution, though, eventually:

  1. One needs a different browser that allows to change the Browser ID. I prefer the powerful iCab Mobile for this.
  2. Set the Browser ID (iCabMobile: Use the gear icon at the top right to access the settings) to "Firefox 10 (Mac)".
  3. Log in to the normal Gmail account. It'll show the mobile view by default.
  4. Tap on the top left "menu" icon (it's a square button with a few horizontal lines in it), which opens a menu where one can choose the labels such as Inbox, Starred, Drafts etc.
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the menu, where it says "View Gmail in: Mobile | basic HTML | Deskop"
  6. Tap "Desktop". This changes the page view to the one that's used on "normal" computers. Note: When I tried the above on an iPhone, Gmail did not show the classic "Desktop" layout but a different layout that seems to be made for other small screen devices. I had to change the Browser ID to "Firefox 17 (Mac)" and refresh the web page in order to get the Desktop view I expected.
  7. Now you can tap on your email account name at the top right. It should list your delegated account, just like on a desktop/laptop computer.
  8. Tap on your delegated account. Now this should switch to the delegated account just fine. If you do this in Safari, it'll not work, but with iCabMobile and the "Firefox 10" setting it should.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to switch back to the Mobile view now, so this isn't going to be easy to work with, especially on an iPhone with its tiny screen.

Ideally, Google should just fix this, making access to delegated accounts available in the mobile view. But then, people have been missing this for years, and there's no way to contact Google in order to let them know of this apparent oversight. So it might well be that the heads at Google aren't every aware of this problem but we cannot manage to tell them, either. Or, they simply do not care, because it's a rarely used feature.

Page last modified on 2013-07-16, 10:41 UTC (do)
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