Google Chrome used to sync across my Windows PC and Mac system, but now it seems busted. I noticed a tiny red icon by my name too. How do I fix it?
One of the really cool thing about modern Web browsers is that if you use them across multiple computers, they can actually keep their bookmarks, history, passwords, and other information synchronized. Mac, Windows PC, even a Linux system can have Google Chrome stay in sync, which makes it much easier to move around if you have, say, a Mac at work and a Windows 10 system at home.
Unless it stops synchronizing, of course.
The first step to diagnose what’s happening is to ensure that your version of Chrome has sync turned on. Do that by going to the settings on your browser and looking to ensure it’s signed in to your Google account:
Signed in? Good. Now click on “Advanced sync settings…” and double check that you are actually choosing to keep things in sync. I sync everything, so here’s what I see:
Note that you don’t have to sync everything if you don’t want to. More likely than not, keeping your bookmarks in sync covers 90% of why people want this feature.
Another possible problem could be that your data on Google itself is messed up. Confirm what’s being synchronized by going to https://www.google.com/settings/chrome/sync and check what’s shown. I have quite a bit of data being synchronized for my own Chrome setup:
Honestly, I have no idea how I have 807 bookmarks, let alone 93 different settings. Still, if you’re seeing non-zero values, this means that at least one of your Google Chrome browsers is reporting back to Google HQ.
Let’s have a closer look at the browser itself. When you look at the Chrome for Windows, is this the red symbol you see next to your name:
Since I’m showing it pretty big, you can see it’s a sync arrow pair with an exclamation in the middle. Hard to see when it’s tiny! That means that Chrome can’t sync. To find out why, simply click on it.
My problem is easy, I’ll just click on “Sign in again” and go through the process of confirming my identity with Google. It is interesting that within the browser window I can be logged in to Google at the same time. Just the way it works.
Hopefully you have two-step verification turned on — if you don’t check this out: Turn on Two-Step Verification for Google Security — in which case you’ll get this as part of the process:
Enter that, get the secret code right, and Google Chrome does all its work in the background. All you see is that the confusing red symbol just, well, vanishes:
And now you’re back to synchronized happiness. Happy surfing!