Managing Multiple Users in Google Chrome (Windows)

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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.

First, open your Chrome browser.

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Tools Menu

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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 Settings.

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Add New User

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Chrome’s Settings should now be displayed in a new tab or window, depending on your individual configuration. 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.

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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 yellow cat. 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.

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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 Fluffy for my new user. While Fluffy does appear to be a friendly cat, I can come up with a better name for myself.

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

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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.

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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-left 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.

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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 instantaneously 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...

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Sign In With Your Google Account

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Chrome’s Sign in… page should now be displayed, either overlaying your browser window or in a new tab. Enter your Google Account credentials and click on Sign in.

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Confirmation Message

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You should now see the confirmation message shown in the example above, stating that you are now signed in and that your settings are being synced with your Google Account. Click on OK to continue.

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Advanced Sync Settings

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Chrome’s Advanced sync settings window allows you to specify which items get synced to your Google Account each time you sign in to the browser. This window should appear automatically the first time you sign in to Chrome with your Google Account. If it does not, you can access it by first returning to Chrome's Settings page (Step 2 of this tutorial) and then clicking on the Advanced sync settings... button found in the Sign in section.

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.

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Disconnect Google Account

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To disconnect your Google Account from the user’s current browsing session, first return to the Settings page by following step 2 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 sync settings... 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…