One of Google’s Chrome’s flagship features is the ability to sign in with your Google account and sync your history, bookmarks, apps, and extensions across multiple PCs. Signing in also helps improve your Google Now suggestions, and automatically signs you in to Google services like Gmail, Drive, and Google+.
The downside: If you share a PC at home, other family members can start searching the web as you by simply opening Chrome. Ruh-roh!
Luckily, Chrome’s multiple profile support can help, providing an easy-peasy way for multiple people to use the same browser without worrying about imposters or having to constantly sign in and out of Google profiles.
First, open Chrome’s menu—the icon with three horizontal lines in the upper right-hand corner—and open the Settings option. Towards the bottom you’ll see a “Users” section.
Click the Add new user… button in that section and a pop-up window will appear with a bunch of user icons. Pick an icon and name for your profile, decide whether you want to create a desktop shortcut icon for the profile, and then tap the “Create” button. Boom! In a few seconds, a new window will open with the new user profile.
Notice that the first time you create a new user profile, Chrome will actually create two profiles: One called “Default Profile” for the person who is currently signed in to Chrome, and one for the new profile that you just created.
So the first time you add a new user, you are actually creating two profiles. To change the name of the default profile to something more user friendly, go back to the Chrome settings tab. Highlight the default profile in the “Users” section and the click the “Edit…” button to change the name.
That’s pretty much it. Just follow the same process as many times as you need to create a user profile for each member of your household.
User profiles for children
For your kids, you can create a special kind of profile called a supervised user, a beta-grade profile type Google added to Chrome earlier in January.
To make a supervised user, simply click the checkbox next to “This is a supervised user managed by [email address].” Parents of supervised users can block specific websites, check out the websites they’ve visited, and lock kids into Google’s “Safe search.” If you block a website that your child thinks they should be allowed to view, they can even send you a request to unblock it, and you can manage settings for your supervised users via the dashboard at chrome.com/manage.
Keep in mind that user profiles are not password protected, however, so Chrome’s supervised users feature is far from fool proof. You will still have to keep an eye on your child’s surfing habits to make sure they are using their profile and not switching over to yours, or—if you’re really worried—create separate user accounts as the operating system level .
Switching between users
To switch between users, just click the user icon that appears in the upper left corner of the browser window. The other created users will appear in a drop down menu. Select the one you want to switch to and a new window will open for that user profile. If that’s too much trouble, you can also use the customized desktop shortcuts Chrome offers to make when creating a profile to open the browser as a particular user. Enjoy!
Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.