Internet Productivity

6 Custom Google Chrome Profiles You Should Start Using

Ben Stegner Updated 08-04-2020

You have a lot of great web browsers to choose from, so you might opt to use different browsers for various purposes. But juggling several apps and managing your information across them can get confusing and frustrating.

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Chances are that you use Google Chrome at least sometimes. You might have overlooked one of its most useful features: Chrome browser profiles. Let’s look at how you can use Chrome profiles to your advantage, even if you’re the only user on your computer.

What Are Google Chrome Profiles?

A Chrome user profile allows you to separate all your browser details into distinct units. Each profile includes its own extensions, settings, browsing history, bookmarks, saved passwords, themes, and open tabs. Profiles are launched as separate Chrome windows, and each window only uses the details for its particular profile.

Chrome Two Profiles

Thanks to Chrome Sync, you don’t have to spend time configuring your profile on every new machine you use. As long as you have this on and stay signed into Chrome, any change you make on one machine (like installing a new extension) will apply anywhere else you use Chrome with that user profile.

How to Add a New Chrome Profile

It’s easy to add a new profile to Chrome anytime. To do so, click the Profile icon at the top-right of Chrome, which shows your Google account profile picture. If you’re not signed in or don’t have a profile picture, it looks like a generic silhouette.

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You’ll see an Other people header in the window that appears. Click Add underneath this to set up a new Chrome profile.

Chrome Add Person

To make the browser profile, you’ll need to enter a name and choose a profile picture. You can change these later and the profile picture is only used inside Chrome, so don’t worry about it too much.

You can check the Create a desktop shortcut for this user if you like. We’ll also look at how to pin a profile shortcut to the taskbar in a moment.

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Chrome Add New Profile

How to Switch Chrome Browser Profiles

Once you’ve created the new profile, it will launch in a new window immediately. To switch browser profiles, click your profile picture at the top-right of Chrome again. Select a name under Other people to launch a new window with one of those profiles.

On Windows 10, if you created a desktop shortcut at the time of creating a new profile, you can right-click it and select Pin to taskbar to add a shortcut for that specific profile.

Even if you don’t have a desktop shortcut, you’ll notice that Chrome places a new icon in the taskbar for each profile you launch. Right-click one and choose Pin to taskbar to keep it handy.

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As you can see below, it’s easy to keep a separate icon for each browser profile so you can launch it when needed.

Chrome pinned profiles

How to Edit and Remove Chrome Browser Profiles

To remove a profile, click your profile icon at the top-right and hit the Gear icon next to Other people. In the resulting window, click the three-dot Menu button that appears at the top-right of a profile and choose Remove this person.

Doing this will erase their browsing history, saved passwords, bookmarks, and form data, so make sure you’re certain before hitting Remove this person again to confirm.

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Chrome Remove Person

To edit your profile, click your profile icon followed by the name at the top. This will bring you to the profile setting page, where you can change your name, toggle the desktop shortcut option on, and change your profile picture.

Chrome Browser Profiles to Start Using Now

To see how Chrome user profiles can make your life easier, here are a few profile type ideas that you should try. While they might not all work for everyone, you’ll be surprised by some of the benefits they offer.

1. Work Profile

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Instead of designating Chrome as your “work” browser and something else, like Firefox, as your “personal” browser, you can take advantage of a profile to keep work in its own container.

Maybe there’s a Chrome-only extension that you need for work—that’s a perfect fit for your work profile. And you don’t have to set the entirety of Chrome aside for only work purposes!

Another huge benefit is that you can keep distracting content out of your work profile. Not having one-click access to social media or other time-sapping sites will help you stay on track. You might block some websites in Chrome How to Block Websites on Chrome Whether for productivity or protecting children, it's a good idea to know how to block websites on Chrome. Here are the best ways to do it. Read More on your work profile that are open for other ones.

This should help you get into “work mode” more easily, and also prevents your work bookmarks from spilling over into your personal browsing.

2. Hobby Profile

Since user profiles hold their own unique bookmark collections, it makes sense to keep separate profiles for different hobbies. You no longer need to spend hours organizing your mess of browser bookmarks How to Manage Years of Browser Bookmarks: 5 Steps to Tidiness Have hundreds or thousands of bookmarks that you need to get under control? Follow this step-by-step process to get organized. Read More into bundles of folders and sub-folders.

Instead, you could keep a blogging profile where you store bookmarks related to writing topics, SEO, and similar. A cooking profile makes a good place to store recipes and instructional cooking videos. If you’re working on a long-term project (such as a thesis paper), you could also use a separate profile for collecting research bookmarks.

3. Social Media Profile

Bookmarks aren’t the only unique aspect of each profile. Each one also maintains its own history and set of cookies. If you’re not familiar, cookies are tiny files that sites can use to identify you 7 Types of Browser Cookies You Need to Know About Browser cookies aren't all designed to reduce your online privacy---some are there to help you. Here's what you need to know. Read More .

One common use of cookies is recognizing when you return to a site. For instance, when you log into a forum and check Remember Me, the site stores a cookie on your system to track who you are.

Now consider a social site like Twitter. Imagine you have three Twitter accounts: one for work, a personal account, and another for a game you’re developing in your free time. Juggling all of these can be a pain. And that’s not even considering all of the other accounts associated with each endeavor (Twitch, Facebook, GitHub, cloud storage, etc.).

By keeping separate profiles, you can stay logged into all relevant sites on a per-task basis. That way, if you have multiple accounts with a service, you don’t have to log in and out all the time. You’ll know that everything you need is ready when you sign into the appropriate profile.

4. Travel Profile

Chrome logo on photo in the sand
Image Credit: tanuha2001 via Shutterstock

A travel profile is one you might not use all the time, but it’s useful in two major ways. First, you can store travel-related bookmarks without cluttering up your other profiles. This lets you save as many resources, guides, pictures, and other travel info as you want.

Second, you may be able to grab flight tickets at cheaper prices How to Get Insanely Cheap Flight Tickets: 7 Airline Hacks That'll Save Money Planning a trip and searching for the lowest airfares? Find out how you can find insanely cheap flights almost every time. Read More . When you shop for tickets online, sites sometimes use cookies to track whether you’ve seen a flight before and then bump prices up when you come back later. Using a dedicated profile, you can avoid this issue and only open it when you’re ready to buy.

You can also get around this by using incognito mode, but the travel profile method offers the bookmark collecting bonus.

5. Extensions Profile

Chrome Extensions Page

Most people know the pain of Chrome slowing down over time. One likely culprit of this is having too many installed extensions. Every extension needs some CPU and RAM to function properly, with some requiring more than others.

Remember that each Chrome profile has its own set of installed extensions. This helps prevent clutter and overload, making sure that each profile only has the extensions needed for that context.

Aside from separating extensions by purpose, you can also keep a profile with all your favorite extensions and only open it when you need a specific one. That way, you don’t have to bog down your regular browsing all the time. Remember that you can disable extensions when you’re not using them, too.

Take a look at some great Chrome extensions 7 Chrome Extensions to Vastly Improve Your Browsing Experience Try these extensions for an improved Google Chrome experience. They fill in some gaps in the user experience. Read More if you need some ideas on what to put here.

6. Secure Profile

As a counter to the above, it’s also a smart idea to keep a “clean” profile with as few additions as possible. Many extensions require a lot of permissions, and unfortunately Chrome extensions going rogue happens from time to time.

This, combined with social media sites tracking you all over the web, means that you probably shouldn’t access sensitive info in the same profile as all that. Set up a dedicated profile that you only use to log into financial sites and similar to reduce the chances of your activity being compromised.

If you want to go further, you can dive into Chrome’s advanced settings to disable website permissions 23 Website Permissions to Change in Google Chrome for Better Browsing Google Chrome lets you change permissions to control how websites interact with your computer. Here's a rundown of what they do. Read More (even JavaScript) for maximum security.

Don’t Forget About Incognito and Guest Windows

Chrome Go Incognito

While they’re not proper browser profiles, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Chrome’s incognito and guest modes, too.

Incognito windows (Ctrl + Shift + N) allow you to browse the web from a throwaway browser profile. They’re great for quickly seeing how a website looks without any extensions and while not logged into anything. They also don’t save any data from your session, making them useful when you don’t want to leave traces behind.

Guest mode is available by clicking Guest under the Other People header in Chrome’s profile menu. This provides you with a dedicated browser session that has no access to the data in other profiles. It also can’t change any settings, making it most useful when someone else needs to use your computer.

Considerations When Using Chrome Profiles

Before we wrap up, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind with Chrome profiles.

When you make a new profile, it’s not tied to any Google account by default. Click your profile picture and hit the Turn on sync button to sign into a Google account and sync your data to other devices, if you wish.

Chrome Turn on Sync

To make each Chrome profile visually distinct, we recommend applying a unique Chrome theme so you don’t mix them up. Google’s own Chrome themes are a good pick since they’re simple and attractive.

Finally, keep in mind that profiles are not a secure way to keep user data separated. Anyone can access another profile by following the steps above, which lets them access everything in your browser. Use a separate user login with a password for security.

Master Chrome Profiles for Maximum Efficiency

After learning about user profiles, you’ll hopefully appreciate Chrome a lot more. The idea may seem insignificant at first, but they really are worthwhile on a day-to-day basis.

To get more from Google Chrome, check out some power user tips for Chrome and our Chrome keyboard shortcuts cheat sheet The Google Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet Every Google Chrome user must know some of the best keyboard shortcuts to get around the browser faster. Read More .

Related topics: Browser Cookies, Browser Extensions, Browsing Tips, Google Chrome.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Txico
    May 13, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    You missed the most obvious one: Porn.
    Most internet users consume porn, but wouldn't want those sites and search terms to pop up as suggestions in their omnibar.
    While only using the incognito mode is the safer option, another profile (maybe in a portable (optionally even encrypted) installation or at least differently labeled) enables you to still use said suggestions, bookmarks or even logins.

  2. D. Sherrill
    July 26, 2017 at 4:05 am

    I like the way you think. I have been using 2 profiles one fir work & one for personal. I am now seriously considering what other profiles would work for me. Thank you.

  3. Pam
    June 2, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Juts getting around to implementing this excellent tip. When I switch to my newly-created "Work" profile, I'm prompted to sign in. Should I create a new account for this new profile, or use my existing account, or ??

    I want to keep work and personal stuff separate, mostly for my own sanity, not due to any great concern about work IT department knowing my personal business.

  4. Paul Anderson
    May 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Another great and informative article by JL. These are wise tips; I agree with you. To answer "how do you use them" ~ I've been using profiles for about five years now, and I have helped others do this same thing:
    Set-up a business profile; that is, your real name and other legal data, so you can use it for banking and online shopping; anything/everything that involves your bank data and SS number and so on. Only use a PC at home on a secured system, and only ethernet-connected. My Linux-OS NUC-PC has never been (and never will be) connected to the Internet via my home wireless system. Keep all credit/debit card data (and other personal business data) only in that profile.
    Thus, my Android phone is connected (synced) to another profile; a partly pseudonymous social profile. It has no such personal/banking data within it. I do not shop or bank on my phone. Even if it were hacked they'd only get social-level passwords. Same with my Chromebook, which is used on public WiFi's. You want to isolate and insulate your personal business from everything else you do. Another wise profile option mentioned would be as an employee if you are one. You can always email yourself from one profile/gmail to another where relevant.
    As for Internet privacy, there really is no such thing as total anonymity (your ISP is that all-seeing eye, unless you VPN all the time), nor is there any concern either, unless you're a billionaire as well as a political threat of some kind. Major entities like Google simply cannot invest their time looking into your life (as important as you might imagine you are); they have countless billions of accounts, and of all kinds, and 57k employees. The single most intrusive thing that can be done on the Internet, by any individual, is to have a Facebook account: I strongly discourage having one. Use an ad-blocker always (I currently like uBlock Origin) and simply avoid sites that restrict or scold you for using it, because there's a zillion other sites to use instead.

  5. ReadandShare
    May 4, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Not sure if this actually keeps my browsing more private (or not) - maybe Lee can enlighten me?? I use two profiles:

    1. Surfing Profile: I use this browser profile for regular use. All Google cookies are strictly forbidden. I also use Adblock, Ghostery and ScriptSafe to block ads, 3rd party cookies and trackers. I like to keep my surfing habits private - even if they are all legitimate.

    2. Google Profile - this is where I do "all things Google" - Gmail, Google Voice, Maps, etc. All cookies are blocked, except for specific Google cookies that are absolutely necessary. Here, I don't care as much if Google is tracking me using Google's services.

    • ReadandShare
      May 4, 2017 at 6:37 am

      Oops, sorry, Joel - I meant to address you by your first name in my post above.

      • Joel Lee
        May 4, 2017 at 7:26 pm

        Hey ReadandShare, I'm not 100 percent sure on this but I think you should be fine as long as your "private" profile itself isn't logged in or synced to Google within Chrome. Then again, it depends on how much Google is actually tracking with the Chrome browser.

        I don't know for sure but if Google collects PC information, location data, IP data, or any other info like that, I suppose it's possible that Google could discern that your two profiles belong to the same end user. But whether that's actually the case? Who knows. :(

  6. td
    May 3, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Firefox has had profiles for quite a long time. But you need to restart to switch between them. And the FF profile manager isn't the easiest to find and use. I also found that the files corrupt easily.