Harry Wolff

You can't escape my laugh.

Google Chrome's Users Feature - Making Web Development Easier

February 23, 2012
Read time 2 minutes

Recently on the stable branch of Google Chrome a little feature was added that has improved my development experience tremendously.

It's called Users and you can find it in your settings:

Why do I use this feature?

During my day job at GetGlue I have to test cross-network features. That means I have to make sure you can login to GetGlue through Facebook, as well as connect your GetGlue account to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

I don't like using my personal accounts for testing purposes. It can create unneccessary spam for my Facebook friends and Twitter friends. Instead I use test accounts.

Logging into each test account every time I want to test GetGlue's authentication is a big time suck. In the past I'd have to open an Incognito window, and login through there. If I ever accidentally closed the Incognito window I'd have to login all over again.

This is no longer the case with Google Chrome Users.

How I use this feature

For GetGlue I created a new User profile. To create a new User profile go to Google Chrome's Preferences, in the Personal Stuff tab. Click 'Add New User' to create your new User profile.

When you create a second User profile two things happen.

  1. The icon for that profile is shown on its Window in the far right.

  1. A new User menu appears.

In almost every way a User profile acts as if you had created a second installation of Google Chrome. All settings are encapsulated within each profile including: cookies, history, bookmarks, open windows, etc.

With my GetGlue User profile window open I am able to login to my test Facebook and Twitter accounts, leaving my personal accounts untouched in my personal User profile. I'm then able to test cross-site authentication without fear. I'm not affecting my personal accounts and I don't have to re-login to my test accounts when I close that User window. The window completely encapsulates all of my settings and actions, letting me open it when I want and close it when I'm done.

How you can use User accounts

If you use your computer's installation of Google Chrome for personal and business related activities you should create a new User profile as soon as possible. This lets you login to your favorite personal sites in your personal account and login to all your business related sites in your business profile. You prevent any leaks of use from your personal activities to your business activities and vice versa. For development purposes it's a dream, as I discussed above.

In many ways Google Chrome's User profiles mimics the behavior in Chrome OS. This shouldn't be a surprise. What I find surprising is how little publicity this feature has recievd.