Adding Multiple Users in Chrome for OS X

01
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Open Your Chrome Browser

Open Your Chrome Browser
Image © Scott Orgera

If you aren’t the only one who uses your computer 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, as well as how to integrate those accounts with their respective users’ Google accounts if they so choose.

 

02
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The Tools Menu

The Tools Menu
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First, open your Chrome browser.​ Click on the Chrome "wrench" icon, located in the upper right-hand corner of your browser window. When the drop-down menu appears, select the choice labeled Preferences.

Please note that you can use the following keyboard shortcut in lieu of clicking on the aforementioned menu item: COMMAND + COMMA(,)

03
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Personal Stuff

Personal Stuff
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Chrome’s Preferences screen should now be displayed in a new tab or window, depending on your settings. Click on the Personal Stuff link, found in the left menu pane.

04
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Add New User

Add New User
Image © Scott Orgera

Chrome’s Personal Stuff Preferences should now be displayed. First, locate the Users section. In the example above, there is only one Chrome user; the current one. Click on the Add New User button.

05
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New User Window

New User Window
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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 and associated icon. In the example above, that icon (circled) is a tasty looking hamburger. A desktop shortcut has also been created for your new user, making it easy to launch directly into their respective browsing session at any time.

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.

06
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Edit User

Edit User
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It is likely that you will not want to keep the randomly generated username and icon that Chrome has chosen for you. In the example above, Google has chosen the name Pickles for my new user. While you may enjoy a half-sour with your lunch, you can come up with a better name for yourself.

To modify the name and icon, first, return to the Personal Stuff Preferences page by following steps 2 and 3 of this tutorial. Next, highlight the username that you wish to edit by clicking on it. Once selected, click on the Edit… button.

07
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Select Name and Icon

Select Name and Icon
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The Edit user popup should now be displayed, overlaying your browser window. Enter your desired moniker in the Name: field. Next, select the desired icon. Finally, click on the OK button to return to Chrome’s main window.

08
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The User Menu

The User Menu
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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 clicking on 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.

09
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Sign In To Chrome

Sign In To Chrome
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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.

To sign in to Chrome and enable the sync feature, you must first have an active Google Account. Next, click on the Chrome "wrench" icon, located in the upper right-hand corner of your browser window. When the drop-down menu appears, select the choice labeled Sign in to Chrome...

Please note that you can also sign in from Chrome’s User menu, as well as from the Personal Stuff Preferences page.

10
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Sign In With Your Google Account

Sign In With Your Google Account
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Chrome’s Sign in… popup should now be displayed, overlaying your browser window. Enter your Google Account credentials and click on Sign in.

11
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Confirm Sync Preferences

Confirm Sync Preferences
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By default, Chrome will sync the following items automatically: Apps, Autofill data, Bookmarks, Extensions, Omnibox History, Passwords, Preferences, and Themes. 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, click on the button labeled OK, sync everything. If you’d like to specify what gets synced and what stays local, click on the Advanced link.

12
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Advanced Sync Preferences

Advanced Sync Preferences
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Chrome’s Advanced sync preferences window allows you to specify which items get synced to your Google Account each time you sign in to the browser. By default, all items will be synchronized. To modify this, click on the drop-down menu at the top of the window. Next, select Choose what to sync. At this point, you can remove check marks from the items that you do not want synced.

Also found in this window is an option to force Chrome to encrypt all of your synced data, not just your passwords. You can even take this security a step further by creating your own encryption passphrase, in lieu of your Google Account password.

13
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Disconnect Google Account

Disconnect Google Account
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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…