Gmail login tracking
May 9, 2006 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I think my s/o has been logging into my gmail account, is there any way to check this. I know I could change my password to prevent it, but I'd rather just know if it were happening....
posted by sdm to Technology (23 answers total)
What makes you think your s/o is doing this? Wouldn't that provide the solution?

Or there's the Hamlet/sitcom solution which involves you having a sexually charged, over the top email exchange in order to provoke a reaction.

And then there's using a keylogger (whether hardware or software) on your computer to catch your s/o at it. This comes with the unfortunate consequence of becoming what you deride.
posted by ODiV at 11:17 AM on May 9, 2006

Perhaps you could sign up a second account, ad yourself to the contact list and sit and wait to see if your original account shows up online on GoogleTalk.
posted by ed\26h at 11:21 AM on May 9, 2006

Create a new email account and send your gmail account an email with a made-up fact in all caps as the subject line. Something like:


Wait a few days and then casually mention to your S/O that you heard on the radio that piranhas can grow up to 7 inches in length. If he/she corrects you, you've got him/her.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 11:25 AM on May 9, 2006

Make sure the first email in your inbox has a very juicy sounding subject, and make it an HTML mail with an embedded image hosted on a server that you have access to the logs for. Then just wait for hits to that file from your s/o's computer!
posted by steveminutillo at 11:28 AM on May 9, 2006

Espy, you magnificent genius.
posted by lyam at 11:28 AM on May 9, 2006

Oh, apparently piranhas can be as large as 15 inches, so change the numbers accordingly.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 11:28 AM on May 9, 2006

A more generalized solution to ed\26h's suggestion would be to use a second account with a rich, robust IM client that can talk to Google Talk. A product like Trillian Pro comes to mind. You should see if these products can log the comings and goings of your contacts...that way you don't have to wait around all day watching your throw away Google Talk client.

Also, if your s/o is reading your e-mail how can you be assured they aren't reading your Metafilter posts as well?
posted by mmascolino at 11:31 AM on May 9, 2006

Oh wow lots of good options! I love the image and the

I think this is happening because certain things have been brought up in coversation that i'm almost certain I have only told firend over email, never told him about it.

I like this guy and want to keep him around, just need to know how secure my communication line has been!!

Thanks to all so far for the advice
posted by sdm at 11:33 AM on May 9, 2006

You could check whether your s/o has been logging into your gmail account is by asking him/her.
posted by Holly at 11:36 AM on May 9, 2006

Another option would be to include something like "I'm not sure, but I suspect my SO is reading my messages" in an email your friend. Maybe if he thinks you know, he'll stop?
posted by Flamingo at 11:36 AM on May 9, 2006

Ask him.
posted by Mwongozi at 11:36 AM on May 9, 2006

Sorry - cut the "is" from the above...
posted by Holly at 11:38 AM on May 9, 2006

Send yourself an email from another account with a juicy sounding title. Inside the message, write

"Dear s/o, I have suspected that recently you have been reading my email, and I guess this confirms it. I'm not mad, I'm not gonna dump you, but let's talk."

He might just ignore it, but might be brave enough to broach the subject, especially if you ask him a leading question face-to-face with a long meaningful look, along the lines of "I had a really interesting email at work today. How was your day? Did you learn anything interesting today?"
posted by penguin pie at 11:51 AM on May 9, 2006

Speaking from recent personal experience, and although I agree that asking him would be the ideal thing to do, it is possible that it would be one of the less effective ways to find your answers.

My SO was reading ALL of my email accounts, including my secure work one, even though he didn't have any of the passwords and I frequently changed them anyway. He repeatedly denied it despite my firm knowledge that he was doing so (like your situation, he would make references to things I had only told friends or would ask questions using near-verbatim phrasing from the emails). This went on for over a year.

After it all hit the fan and the truth came out, he told me that he hadn't needed any passwords or anything in order to see those email accounts. I am not technologically savvy unfortunately, so was at a distinct disadvantage the whole time this was happening.

I had many urges to try to trick him into revealing himself, a la the piranha suggestion, but I found that I couldn't do that to him. Combating deception with more deception is just a downward spiral; plus I felt that I would be disrespecting him and I didn't want to stoop to that or let his behavior affect my own behavior.

If your situation is anything like mine was, it is possible that he will only admit to what he is doing when he is ready and/or you have some irrefutable proof. My circumstance came to a head when I found a download record of some spying software on my home machine -- not the kind that comes in secretly on some websites, but the kind that you have to seek out and download on purpose -- that had been downloaded while I was at work and he was at home. Thank god for that; armed with that evidence, I was able to confront him once and for all; he admitted everything; lots of talking etc ensued; the upshot is that it can be done.

Throughout this ordeal, I consoled myself with the realization that he was probably just as unhappy about his secret activities as I was. He was doing it because of his own pain and fear.

It was sucky, but basically I dealt with it by being totally honest: telling him repeatedly about my suspicions and saying that I really wished he wouldn't do it. If your gut is telling you he is, he probably is, and confirmation won't get you anywhere but frustrated. The problem needs to be aired.
posted by tentacle at 12:00 PM on May 9, 2006

Perhaps you could sign up a second account, ad yourself to the contact list and sit and wait to see if your original account shows up online on GoogleTalk.

This is really a much better solution than your marked best answer. It will tell you for sure.
posted by fake at 12:39 PM on May 9, 2006

I like ed\26h's idea. Ooh, that's a really good one. Very subtle. Once he's online you can call at once and tell him you know he's logged into your Gmail account.
posted by KathyK at 1:11 PM on May 9, 2006

Lots of browsers don't have GTalk -- if he signs in using Safari or older versions of IE, it won't show up.

Just change the password, and see what happens!
posted by bonaldi at 2:41 PM on May 9, 2006

"Make sure the first email in your inbox has a very juicy sounding subject, and make it an HTML mail with an embedded image hosted on a server that you have access to the logs for. Then just wait for hits to that file from your s/o's computer!"

An alternative, if you are not this tech-savvy -- or don't want to stay logged into one Gmail account all day long --

1. Know what IP addresses your own computers use. There are lots of free places to find that, search "IP lookup" (cursory look, I found a one at

2. Then, set up a free blog account somewhere, no real content necessary, maybe just a couple of test posts.

3. Set up a free stat tracker account on that blog. has good ones that show lots of details -- you'd be able to see that the s/o clicked through from an email client, and also his IP (hence the need for #1, so you can eliminate your own visits to the blog during set-up).

4. Create aforementioned juicy email and put URL of decoy blog in the body. Mention content as referring to irresistible secret.

5. Check stat tracker logs as is convenient for you.

It would take about an hour to set all this up, but then you'd be free to check the trap review the stat tracking at your leisure, instead of having to monitor Google Talk constantly.
posted by pineapple at 2:43 PM on May 9, 2006

Like pineapple's idea, but a little simpler. All you need is a hosting account with server logs. Borrow a friends, or go someplace like Put an image file up in an obscure directory with no links to it, then mail yourself a link to this picture and title it something like "pictures from our date" that is guaranteed to be opened. Then, watch the server logs to see who gets the picture and where they are coming from.

You could also employ the spammer trick to validate emails, and that is the same as above but embedding the link to the picture as an inline image, so that anyone opening the message will see the picture. This is more difficult with gmail as the interface does not seem to support it. I'm told it is possible using the Flock browser, but I haven't tried it.
posted by Manjusri at 3:49 PM on May 9, 2006

mmascolino's answer really is the best and simplest here. The marked best answer seems iffy at best.
posted by puke & cry at 6:35 PM on May 9, 2006

As a response to the keylogger, IMO that is the worst thing someone can do. I would break up with my partner on the spot if I found out they needed to know anything so badly as to invade my privacy in that manner. Also, if you did that to find out if they are snooping, how are you any better than them?
posted by nadawi at 7:51 PM on May 9, 2006

The image thing only works if they click through... Likely if he already reads your emails, he knows who you have conversations with, and who he should be jealous of (if he's doing this because he's the jealous type).

Unless you put it inline, but you'll have to view an email and allow click "Always allow images from" bar at the top.

Either confront him or change your password... doing something devious will only make BOTH of you paranoid. If he admits to it, long heart-felt conversation ensues. If he denies it, he's likely to stop for fear of upsetting you, or he'll do it more, and you'll realize you don't want him around.

Honesty really is the best policy.
posted by hatsix at 9:55 PM on May 9, 2006

Yes, I would like to admit that I was sort of kidding with the piranha thing. Talking to your SO about it directly, as suggested many times above, is really the only good answer.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 10:31 PM on May 9, 2006

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