Monday, July 28, 2014

Use Chrome User Profiles to Juggle Accounts

If you're like me, you often find yourself having to juggle multiple accounts from various sites and services. I use my personal Gmail address for almost everything, my professional Gmail address for professional development work, juggle three different Twitter accounts for different can be a headache switching between them over and over again. In the past, I've used an incognito window to handle this, but that requires having to log in to every site every time. Enter Chrome User Profiles.

Chrome allows users to set up multiple profiles, each with its own bookmarks, pinned tabs, extensions, themes, apps, passwords, and probably more that I don't know about. I think the primary purpose for it is probably for families, especially since there is an option to set up some of the accounts with decreased permissions and blocked sites. I've found it to be tremendously useful for this account juggling. Let me show you how to do it.

Step 1
Open up Chrome settings by clicking the 3 horizontal bars at the top right corner of the browser, then clicking "settings."

Step 2
Scroll down to "Users" and click "Add new user..."

Step 3
Choose an icon, give the user a name, and choose whether or not you want to make it a supervised user. Supervised users are put under the administrative authority of the default user. This is best for kids or guests, as you can set up specific permissions, block sites, and view their browser history. It also says that you can import a supervised user from another computer. Once you've made your choices, click "Create."

Step 4
Now a new Chrome window will be opened for the new user. It will start off without any bookmarks, extensions, or themes. You will be prompted to sign in to your Google account, which will allow you to import those things if you've used Google Sync. You can choose not to do this, if you want. This is where the account juggling really shines for me, as I can use my professional Gmail account with this profile and not have to keep switching between the two or have two tabs open in the same window.

Now that you've set up your user profile, you can open Chrome windows in the different profiles. If you are in one and want to open up the other, just click the user icon in the top right corner of the browser and choose the user you want. This will open a new Chrome window in this user profile, including its own pinned tabs. As you can see in the picture above, I have three different users open at once, each with its own theme, extensions, bookmarks, and pinned tabs.

Now, get to juggling.


  1. Question. I have a personal gmail and a gmail set up by my school for work. When I attempt to do what you describe above, it says, "Link your Chrome data to this account? This account is managed by g.schooldistrict.k12.... You are signing in with a managed account and giving its administrator control over your Google Chrome profile. Your Chrome data will become permanently tied to [work account]. .... Soooo, "Link data," or no?

    1. Wow, that is a good question. I haven't tried to do this with my school district account, yet. I did it with my personal account and then my account that I do with this blog -, which is also a gmail account. I set it up on my laptop and didn't get the message you describe. But then I went to my desktop computer at home - which I hadn't been using Google Sync with, because it's a home theater PC and so has much different settings than my laptop - and I decided to do this there, too, to see how it carries profiles over from one device to another.

      When I did that, I got the same message as you: "Link your Chrome data to this account? This account is managed by" etc. Doing so kept my bookmarks and extensions and theme, but added the bookmarks and extensions from my laptop as well. It was a bit of an annoyance sorting them all out later. I also discovered that it didn't carry over my pinned tabs, fyi.

      So, my thought is that the reason you are getting that message is that you already synced everything with your school gmail account on your computer at the school. If you do this on your home PC using that same address, my thinking is that you will end up in the same boat as me - with all of your bookmarks and extensions from school going on to your home PC. So, whether or not you want to sync would come down to whether or not you want that to happen. Personally, I decided to go with it just so that I could seamlessly work between my home PC and my laptop, but it did take me a good hour of rearranging to get my bookmarks sorted out in a reasonable manner.

      Now, you should still be able to set up a new user profile and not use Google Sync. In the screenshots in this article, you can see that I set up a profile called "Demonstration" that ends up being a blank slate if you don't sync a gmail account to it. I just now made another one on my desktop PC. I was able to still use gmail and everything and had no problems by not syncing.

      So, final thought is - no, don't link.

  2. No. Do not link data. You will have to remove your Chrome profile (unlink data) if you switch computers or your bookmarks and other Chrome data will stay on the browser. This is mainly for personal computers.

    1. Thanks! You are correct; linking the data is really best for personal devices. I have mine linked on my computer at school, but as a result I've had to create bookmark folders for home and work to keep things from getting too complicated.

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