How to use browser profiles in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge

Most of us try to handle a mass of connections and browser tabs, and not just multiple websites or services, but multiple accounts for work, home, leisure and more. And while, of course, you can keep dozens of tabs open or multiple windows for each goal, consider one feature that has been built into your browser for a long time and can help: User Profiles.

Think of profiles as different identifiers that you can switch between. They collect all the usual browsing data (passwords, bookmarks, browsing history) and keep them in separate compartments. Perhaps the most obvious way to use them is to have one for work and one for personal business, but there are other uses as well.

If several people in a household share a computer, profiles are a good way to keep everyone’s browsing separate. But given how easy it is to switch between profiles, it’s probably best to use separate accounts in Windows or macOS, if you want privacy or security. But nothing stops you to use multiple profiles to keep things organized.

Here’s how to get profiles to work in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. At this time, the feature is not available in Apple’s Safari.

Google chrome

Each profile is represented by a simple graphic in Chrome.

David Nield via Google

To add a new profile to Chrome, click on the profile icon in the upper right corner. How it looks will depend on how your browser is configured (it will display your current Google Account avatar if you’re signed in), but it’s the one immediately to the left of the three dots that lead to Google Chrome’s main menu.

Click on Add to start the process of creating a new profile: you will be asked to give the new profile a name and you will have to choose an image from the gallery provided. You then get a brand new Chrome window, with no history, no bookmarks, or anything else. It’s like you’ve just reinstalled Google Chrome for the first time.

You do not have to associate a Google account with this profile, but you can if you wish: just click again on the profile button (top right) and choose Activate synchronization. Once you have signed into your account, you can get all the passwords, browsing history, and other data associated with that Google Account. If you do not log in, this data is simply kept locally.

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