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Every time I log in to Google with the same MacBook I get this email:

New device signed in to
    example@gmail.com
Your Google Account was just signed in to from a new Mac device. You're getting this email to make sure it was you.

What do these emails mean exactly? When does Google send out those emails?

I guess I receive those emails because I use a VPN (always same public IP address) and some privacy plugins in Firefox.

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    Cookie AutoDelete is likely the source of this scenario. Google tracks each browser you use to login using cookies. You can generate the same message when you sign in from a new web browser on the same PC. – jpaugh Apr 22 at 18:16
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    Can you please make me a favor and disable the delete-cookies bluing and leave the VPN, to make sure is it the changing IP or the changing cookies that triggered this message ? – AccountantM Apr 22 at 22:08
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    "just signed in to from a new Mac device" ... You can confuse the server more by changing the user-agent header to make it think it's a new Windows, Android, Linux machine. – AccountantM Apr 22 at 22:21
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I guess I receive those mails because I use a VPN (always same public IP) and some privacy plugins in Firefox.

Yes, this is likely the reason. You use these plugins in order to prevent that the other side can detect that you are the same user on the same device as the previous time. And that's exactly what the mail from Google says: it detected a login from a new device since it could not detect your device as the one you've used before.

That's actually a common compromise one has to take: if privacy or security goes up the usability often goes down. In this case a useful security feature against misuse of your account (security up) conflicted with a useful privacy feature (privacy up) which caused the usability to go down.

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    But the message doesn't say "from a new IP address", it says "from a new device". Does that mean the message is incorrect? And if the changing IP is the reason for the alert, why doesn't anyone with a dynamic IP constantly get those messages every hour or whatever that their IP changes? (If not why not) – Stilez Apr 22 at 17:38
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    @Stilez "from a new device" is much more user friendly than "from a new IP address" for users that are technologically inexperienced, and I imagine that this is the prevailing factor in the choice of phrasing (regardless of whether this is right or wrong). – DreamConspiracy Apr 22 at 17:54
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    @DreamConspiracy "from a new device" does not mean new IP address. It means a new cookie. When I sign in from a new phone, Google emails me; but when I sign in on my current phone at a new IP address (say, at StarBucks), it does not. – jpaugh Apr 22 at 18:14
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    @jpaugh I know how this works, but that's not what I was addressing. Regardless of what actually happens the driving choice behind the phrasing in such emails will always be usability, never correctness. – DreamConspiracy Apr 22 at 18:20
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    @gerrit: These messages are intended for the average user which uses a single browser. While it would be technically more correct to say that somebody logged in with a browser which is has no established relation to Google (i.e. no cookies) this would be too confusing for 99% of the users. And in 99% of the use cases the information "new device" is correct and also easy to understand. Yes, it might confuse 1% of the users but better to confuse 1% instead of 99%. – Steffen Ullrich Apr 23 at 8:13

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