Adding Multiple Users in Chrome for OS X

You can set up multiple users withing Chrome

Little girl touching the smiley emoji icon on the touch screen

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If you share your computer with others, then keeping your individual settings, such as bookmarks and themes, intact can be next to impossible. This is also the case if you are looking for privacy with your bookmarked sites and other sensitive data. Google Chrome provides the ability to set up multiple users, each one having their own virtual copy of the browser on the same machine. You can even take things a step further by tying your Chrome account to your Google account, syncing bookmarks and apps across multiple devices.

This in-depth tutorial details how to create multiple accounts within Chrome, and how to integrate those accounts with their respective users’ Google accounts if they so choose.

Instructions in this article apply to Mac OS X High Sierra and later.

To start adding individual users to Chrome, do the following:

  1. Open your Chrome browser.​ 

    Google Chrome in Mac OS.
  2. Select People > Add Person.

    Selecting the add person option in Google Chrome.
  3. A new window will pop up. If you don't have a Google account, select Get Started, otherwise select Already a Chrome user? Sign in.

    Google Chrome is prompting to add a user.
  4. We'll assume you already have an account. So after selecting Sign in, enter your Email or phone and select Next.

    Screenshot of entering in an email into Chrome.
  5. Enter your password and select Next.

    Prompt to enter password for Google account.
  6. Next, you'll be prompted to Turn on sync. You can select Yes, I'm in or Settings to fine tune what you want to sync.

    Prompt to turn on sync in Google Chrome.
  7. Under Sync, select Manage sync. This will expand the menu of options.

    Chrome manage sync settings.
  8. To sync everything, toggle Sync everything, otherwise select each option like Apps, Bookmarks, Extensions, etc.

    Screenshot of individual sync settings.
  9. Select Confirm.

    Screenshot confirming sync settings in Chrome.
  10. You may be prompted to set Chrome as the default browser. Select Set as default if you choose, or select Skip to leave your other browser as default.

    Screenshot of Google prompting to set Chrome as default.

A new window will appear immediately. This window represents a new browsing session for the user which you just created. The new user will be given a random profile name (If one hasn't been setup with the original Google account) and associated icon. Otherwise the photo avatar will be one you've set in Gmail, for example. In the example above, that icon (circled) is a tasty looking hamburger.

Any browser settings that this user modifies, such as installing a new theme, will be saved locally for them and them only. These settings can also be saved server-side, and synced with your Google Account. We will go into syncing your bookmarks, apps, extensions, and other settings later in this tutorial.

Customize Your Chrome Profile

It is likely that you will not want to keep the randomly generated username that Chrome has chosen for you. Typically, Google will assign the generic name Person 1, 2, 3, etc. To make this more personalized do the following:

  1. In Chrome, select People then select the profile you wish to edit.

    Selecting a profile in Google Chrome.
  2. A personalized instance of Chrome will open up. Within this instance, go back to People and select Edit.

    Selecting to edit a profile in Chrome.
  3. Under Edit person, there is a text box containing the name of the profile (Person 2). Enter in the name you'd like for this profile.

    Entering a name for a new profile in Chrome.
  4. Under the name box, select a user icon, if desired.

    Designating an icon makes it easier to distinguish different profiles.

    Screenshot of selecting an icon for profile in Chrome.
  5. You can close the Settings window or select the arrow next to Edit person to complete.

    Screenshot showing the profile in Chrome has a new name and icon.

Now that you have created an additional Chrome user, a new menu is added to the browser. In the upper-right hand corner, you will find the icon for whichever user is currently active. This is more than just an icon, however, as selecting it presents Chrome’s User menu. Within this menu, ​you can quickly view whether or not a user is signed in to their Google Account, switch active users, edit their name and icon, and even create a new user.

As mentioned earlier in this tutorial, Chrome allows individual users to associate their local browser account with their Google Account. The main benefit of doing so is the ability to instantly sync all bookmarks, apps, extensions, themes, and browser settings to the account; making all of your favorite sites, add-ons, and personal preferences available on multiple devices. This can also serve as a backup of these items in the event that your original device is no longer available for whatever reason.

Managing Sync Settings

To sign in to Chrome and enable the sync feature, you must first have an active Google Account.

You can also sign in from Chrome’s User menu.

  1. Select your profile icon located next to the address bar and select Turn on sync or Sign in again.

    Screenshot of turning on sync for new profile.
  2. Enter in your Email or phone and select Next.

    Entering in email into Chrome.
  3. Enter your account password and select Next.

    Prompt to enter password for Google account.
  4. You may be prompted to Protect your account by setting up a recovery phone number or email. You can Update or Confirm details.

    Prompt to setup recovery in Chrome.
  5. Confirm turning on sync by selecting Yes, I'm in if you haven't already turned on syncing.

    Confirmation of sync activation in Chrome.
  6. Select the 3-dot vertical menu at the top right corner of Chrome and select Settings. (Command + ,)

    The settings menu in Google Chrome.
  7. Under People, expand the menu labeled Sync and Google services.

    People options in Google Chrome.
  8. Under Sync, expand Manage sync.

    Sync settings in Chrome.
  9. Now toggle off or on items that you want to change their sync status.

    Expanded sync settings in Chrome.

Confirm Sync Preferences

By default, Chrome will sync everything. A more cautious user may not want everything synced, although the data is encrypted in multiple ways. This includes your saved passwords being encrypted on both your local device and Google’s servers utilizing a cryptographic key.

If you want to go ahead and sync all of the aforementioned items, select the toggle labeled Sync everything. If you’d like to specify what gets synced and what stays local, select the toggle on each individual item.

Additional Sync Preferences

Other sync settings allow you to tweak how your browsing history is used to personalize your Chrome experience and what data can be synced, including hidden data.

Encryption options for sync in Google Chrome.

Also found in this window is an option to either Encrypt synced passwords or encrypt all of your synced data. You can even take this security a step further by creating your own encryption passphrase, in lieu of your Google Account password.

Disconnect Google Account

To disconnect your Google Account from the user’s current browsing session, first, return to the Personal Stuff Preferences page by following steps 2 and 3 of this tutorial. At this point, you will notice a Sign in section at the top of the page.

This section contains a link to Google Dashboard, which provides the ability to manage any data that has already been synced. It also contains an Advanced… button, which opens Chrome’s Advanced sync preferences popup.

To uncouple the local Chrome user with its server-based companion, simply click on the button labeled Disconnect your Google Account…

  1. Open Chrome.

    Google Chrome in Mac OS.
  2. Select the avatar icon next to the address bar and select Manage People.

    Selecting to manage people in Google Chrome.
  3. Hover your cursor over the profile avatar that you want to delete. Select the 3-dot vertical and select Remove this Person.

    Removing a profile from Chrome.
  4. Select Remove This Person when prompted about the permanent deletion of data.

    Confirming the deletion of a profile in Chrome.