Firefox user profiles are a mighty tool that most users of the browser probably never come into contact with. While it is fine to use a single profile in many cases, using multiple profiles opens up a new world of possibilities.
I like to work with multiple profiles, profiles that I have created for specific tasks. For instance, I have created a very secure profile for online banking, another to test Firefox add-ons, and a third that is pristine and unchanged as reference.
The main reason why Firefox profiles are not that popular is that the underlying architecture is not really exposed to users. The profile manager for instance can only be loaded if Firefox is started with the --P parameter.
Firefox users may see snippets of it here and there, for instance when they reset the browser, or open the profile folder on their system, but there is no clear instruction in the browser on how to create a new profile.
If you run a cutting edge Nightly version of Firefox, you may have noticed the new profile selector that Mozilla implemented in the browser already.
The profile selector does away with the basic "choose user profile" window that is displayed on start if certain parameters have been added to Firefox's launch.
The new window looks similar to other new Firefox pages such as about:support, but with the difference that it is loaded on its own.
This can be confusing at first, as this is not what you'd expect to launch. You find all profiles listed on the page, options to create a new profile, and restart options to restart the browser with add-ons disabled.
All but one options provided in the old manager are present in the new window as well. The option that is missing is the "work offline" selector.
The new window lists additional information about each profile including its full root and local directory.
Tip: you can open it in Firefox directly by loading about:profiles.
Buttons are displayed underneath each profile to rename or remove it, and in the case it is not the default profile, to make it the default.
One issue that you will run into eventually is that you cannot just launch another profile as easy as before. Since there is no selection option available, to pick a profile to start it, you have to use "set as default profile" first before you start the browser. That's quite uncomfortable, especially if you switch between profiles regularly.
Mozilla added an open button next to each profile so that you can launch profiles directly without having to make that profile the default.
The profile creation wizard has not changed at all.
It is unclear right now if Mozilla added a parameter to Firefox to switch back to the old profile manager. Even if that would be the case, it is likely only a temporary solution as the old/new search interface change has shown recently.
What you can do is create profile specific shortcuts to load them directly.
The command -no-remote -P "profile name" loads the Firefox profile "profile name" in a new instance making the browser window that opens independent from other open instances of Firefox.
On Windows, you have to modify shortcuts for that.
The example loads the Firefox profile testprofile in a new instance.
Firefox Nightly is the cutting edge version of the browser. It is possible that the new profile selector will receive updates and improvements before it is made available in release versions of the web browser.
The main issue that I have with it right now is that it takes more time to load another profile using the new interface.Advertisement
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.