One of the major criticisms of Google Plus in the beginning was you couldn’t undo the “upgrade” once you had made it. Once a G+ profile was forced upon you there was no way to revert back to a normal Google account, without all the social integration.
This was a particular problem for anyone with multiple Google accounts – such as those like me with a Google Apps account and an older “standard” account. Add in that Apps customers were late in getting Google Plus, and you have a fairly common situation of having multiple profiles.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like ambiguity, and I don’t like things being too messy. If I have a profile somewhere, I want one profile so visitors know they are getting the correct one.
When G+ first arrived for Apps customers without a way to migrate from another profile, I kept using my “old” profile as it was already complete, and had a fair amount of data shared to it. When the migration tool finally arrived1 I moved over to my Apps profile and looked for a way to delete the old one. There wasn’t any way I could find, so my only choice was to set all the data to private, and leave a message on the page the profile was no longer in use. This was definitely not what I wanted, as the old profile consistently ranked above the new one for searches, and was still being attributed to content I was writing2.
Thankfully it seems Google listened. While exploring the options on my Google Account, looking to see if I had the new “vanity URLs” feature yet, I discovered a link buried away which lets you downgrade your Google Account, removing Google Plus and social integration. A quick search revealed it’s been there for a while, so file this under “I didn’t know that!” I’ve listed the steps to downgrade below, for anyone else who didn’t know about this option.
Log-in to the Google Account you want to downgrade. If you have multiple accounts, make sure you have switched to the correct one. Click the dropdown menu in the upper-right corner of most Google applications (where your user picture is), and click the Account link circled in red below:
Click the Google+ link in the sidebar menu:
The Downgrade link is at the very bottom of the page:
You will be given the choice to disable your Google+ account, or to delete it, along with any social integrations (Google Buzz, YouTube, etc). Personally, as I know I don’t have any integrations I use with my old account, I went for the delete option. Pick which ever is right for you, then tick the “I Understand/Accept” box at the bottom of the page.
Click the button at the bottom of the page. Your account will be immediately disabled or downgraded from Google Plus. If all goes well, you will see a box asking for comments about why you did this. Feedback is always good for product teams, so leave a little message for them: