You may already know about Mozilla's plan to retire the built-in Firefox profile manager to replace it with an external program called the Profile Manager.
This new program, available for all supported operating systems that Firefox runs on is not only compatible with the web browser but also with other XULRunner-based applications like Mozilla Thunderbird or Seamonkey.
The built-in profile manager has been used by Firefox users to configure and run multiple user profiles on the same computer.
This was helpful for web developers for instance who wanted to separate work from their regular browsing (no need to run slow loading applications like Firebug under the regular profile).
The new standalone version of the Mozilla Profile Manager improves the built-in tool. The program detects all installed Firefox versions automatically and displays them along with their associated user profiles in the application window.
You add portable program versions to the application and those that the manager did not detect by default.. This is done with a click on the Manage Firefox versions button and the selection of Add in the new window.
The profile manager indicates the default profile in the interface as well. One of the interesting features here is the ability to link user profiles to specific Firefox versions.
Another new feature is the ability to run Firefox with a temporary profile that's created for the session. This profile gets deleted once the browser is closed.
When you look at the options you will notice that there are four to select from.
The Profile Manager can be used to backup and restore some or all profiles on the current computer system. It is in addition possible to create a new profile or copy an existing profile.
The profile manager is configured for the Firefox browser by default. Thunderbird or Seamonkey users need to use a command line argument to change that. This is done by adding the name of the program to the command, e.g. profilemanager thunderbird to manage all Thunderbird profiles on the system.
Wonder why Mozilla is pushing for the change? Mozilla employee Benjamin Smedberg has this to say about it:
Startup time is *not* a reason for this change. The code complexity of named profiles and their poor interaction with OS integration and remoting features is the primary reason for this change.
The new profile manager makes it easy to link profiles to versions of Firefox which makes it easier to work with multiple profiles and multiple versions of the browser on the same computer and under the same user account.
The Mozilla Profile Manager can be downloaded from the official Mozilla ftp site. (via)
What's your take on the new Mozilla Profile Manager?
Update: Both the profile manager and the built-in option to manage and run profiles are still available. The profile manager, last updated in 2011 seems to have been abandoned though not only because the last update dates back almost four years but also because it was never promoted by Mozilla.
Still, it is a handy tool, a gui so to speak to manage profiles in Firefox and other Mozilla applications such as SeaMonkey or Thunderbird.
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