Multiple profiles in Google Chrome for OS X

December 20th, 2011 Update: The latest version of Chrome for OS X (v16) has made profiles available without having to jump through weird hoops. Just go into Preferences, Personal Stuff and there's an option to enable profiles for multiple users. Each profile can have separate settings for Sync, Extensions and Themes to help you tell them apart.

As the world moves more and more toward cloud-based services such as Gmail and Basecamp, you may find yourself in a situation where your personal accounts and your work accounts start to conflict with each other.  Here at Duo we definitely see this when working with Google Documents.  Clearing your cookies will solve the problem temporarily, but it requires you to log in again and eventually the problem will return. One solution is to use different profiles for your work and personal information. This has always been pretty easy in Firefox and the Windows version of Chrome isn't too hard, either. Under OS X it's a bit trickier.


In order to get profiles working, you'll need to call the Chrome executable with a parameter that points out where the profile should be stored.  I've created a bash script that sets up the appropriate directories and creates a launcher script for you.  Simply download the script, double-click it to extract it, then open Terminal (You can find Terminal by switching to Finder and selecting Utilities from the Go menu) and run the following commands:

cd Downloads
./Create_Chrome_Profile Personal

If your downloads go to a different directory, you'll want to cd to that directory instead. Replace "Personal" with the name of the profile you wish to create. When the script runs it will create a new application in your /Applications folder. Double-clicking this will launch the initial setup windows for Chrome. The icon is the default application icon, which is kind of ugly. You can copy and paste the Chrome icon from the Get Info windows by clicking the tiny icon in the upper left corner and hitting Cmd-C, then opening Get Info for your new app and clicking the icon in the upper left corner and hitting Cmd-V. You can get the icon from anywhere you'd like. I use a version of our Duo logo for my "work-related" browser.

You'll have to re-install any extensions you want in your new browser, and your history and bookmarks won't get carried over unless you turn on Google Sync.

Here's the script. Note that I've appropriated and improved upon an idea that I got from Tom Limoncelli in this post on the excellent Everything Sysadmin blog.