I got a Nexus 7 tablet. Is it possible to use my Google account just to download apps and for backup purpose?

I'd rather not see my emails, chats and contacts on the device as it's not with me all the time and shared with kids, and basically anyone in the house has access to it.

I couldn't find any options to do this. Without logging in with my Google account, the device is kind of useless. I tried turning off sync for everything after I logged in, but the emails are still syncing. Plus it's only a couple of clicks away to turn back on if anyone wished. I can't add password just for these apps either.

Please don't ask me to create another Gmail account just for this. Are rooting and installing custom ROM the only option? Any other suggestions?

  • I'm pretty sure turning off Sync for GMail on Accounts and Sync does that. If you are willing to go the extra mile, just get your Nexus 7 rooted and "freeze" the GMail app. Using one of the many applications out there that does it.
    – Propeller
    Mar 14, 2013 at 13:20
  • I would create a special user account for the kids and password-protect your account. That'll keep them out of your Gmail for sure.
    – ale
    Mar 14, 2013 at 13:21
  • I have not tried freeze thing, but sounds like anyone can just unfreeze it if they have access to the device, wouldnt it?
    – Joe
    Mar 14, 2013 at 21:00

4 Answers 4


Here's a working solution to add a Google account and prevent it from syncing everything.

  1. Before adding the Google account, disable Sync (from system settings or from your pull-down menu).

  2. With sync disabled, add the Google account.

  3. Enable Airplane mode to prevent all data transfer.

  4. Enable Sync. You must do this to modify the specific sync settings next.

  5. Go into sync settings for the Google account, and uncheck all services you don't want synced. For your case, you only want Sync App Data enabled.

  6. Disable airplane mode.

You now have the google account on your phone, and it hasn't synced anything except the services you chose to let it sync.

I follow this procedure to prevent emails and contacts from syncing. Contacts in particular are very annoying, since disabling sync doesn't delete the synced contacts from the phone, so you must prevent them from getting on your phone in the first place with this solution.

  • Overall, I think this is the best solution posted here so far. However, I'm not sure if it works quite right. After step 2, Android shows the current date and time as the last date and time of a sync. Not sure if data is actually synced or not. Mar 4, 2018 at 0:53
  • Doesn't work. As soon as you add the account anywhere, a sync happens regardless of whether the system sync is off (it is). The initial sync appears to be forced.
    – Nimrod
    May 29, 2018 at 2:52
  • While it's true that Android forces the initial sync, if you do step 3 quickly, right after new account was added, the procedure works. I just tried it because I didn't want contacts synced to my device. It took me a few retries but eventually I succeeded. Shame on Google that it makes it so difficult. Android is a bad joke compared to BlackBerry 10 OS.
    – mato
    Sep 22, 2019 at 14:20

I would suggest you to have two users configured as Al Everett suggested and additionally configure to your need.

  1. The first user as a main user use your Google account to have all the bells and whistles. Have a screen guard configured for this account so that no other user will be using it.
  2. Then create a second user and use your Google account to install all necessary apps that you think necessary for the second user. This can include the apps that you had purchased with your Google account.
  3. In Settings you can then opt out not to sync emails, contacts, photos and all the stuffs you wouldn't like to share. Again Settings->Apps, open GMail and clear its data to remove all the previously synced data.
  4. Install App locker apps which will prevent unauthorized use of any apps by protecting with a password.

With the above both you and your kids can use the tablet in their own space with you worrying to share your mails and contacts with them.

  • This is good advice, and I've already thought of it, but I've been using google for a long time. The account I have is associated with paid apps, and has been in use for email and other things for a long time, so separating the accounts now is not practical. Dunno about the OP, but I'm still looking for a way to avoid sync when installing a google account.
    – mc0e
    Jul 2, 2015 at 4:22

Google allows to use application-specific passwords. I have not used them, especially not in an Android device but this may be a solution for your problem if it is possible to use a "Market-Only password" on your device.

BTW: The Google backup works AFAIK only for apps that explicitly support it (therefore not of every app). If you have an Android 4.0 or higher device you may want to try the local backup via ADB which saves all user data on the device.

  • I dont want to see any emails on my tablet. So I dont think having log in with another password will give me that. The way I see it, all the google apps (gmail, talk, play, etc..) are tied to one gmail account. So you either login in all apps or none.
    – Joe
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:58
  • Good to know about the backup not backing up all the apps. Cheers
    – Joe
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:58
  • Best backup option I know is Titanium Backup, which requires root. For this reason if no other, I would not consider using an un-rooted Android phone.
    – mc0e
    Jul 2, 2015 at 4:26


  1. Go to Settings --> Under Wireless&Networks select Data Usage --> click Menu-->check Auto- Sync.

  2. Then go back to Settings-->Accounts-->Google-->uncheck Gmail .

Or else you can uncheck Auto-sync option to disable automatic synchronizing all options.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .