Chrome’s new profile switcher
If you’re already using Chrome just sit tight and it will automatically update. If you’d like to try out the latest version, head over to the Chrome downloads page.
Chrome 16 is most notable for its new syncing tools, which make it dead simple to move between Chrome installations without losing your data. For example, you can now keep your work installation in perfect sync with the your home installation, with bookmarks, apps, extensions, browsing history, and other settings moving seamlessly between the two.
The only catch is that to make the new syncing features work, you’ll need to link Chrome with your Google account. Linking up Chrome with your Google account also means that you’ll be automatically signed in to any Google services you visit.
Chrome 16 also introduces a new user switching model that makes it easy for multiple people to share the same browser and still keep their data separate. Much as you can switch users at the OS level, keeping separate accounts for multiple users on the same machine, Chrome’s user switching enables the same sort of sharing, but at the browser level.
As a number of readers pointed out when we reviewed the beta version, the multi-user scenario isn’t all that common, but the same feature can be used to stay logged in to two entirely separate Google profiles at the same time. For example, if you have a work identity with all your work data and extensions, as well as a personal identity, you can quickly switch between the two. It’s certainly possible to do this without Chrome’s new user switching, but this method makes things a bit quicker and smoother.
One thing to keep in mind is that user switching in Chrome is nowhere near as secure as user switching at the OS level. When the beta was release Google warned that:
this feature isn’t intended to secure your data against other people using your computer, since all it takes is a couple of clicks to switch between users. We want to provide this functionality as a quick and simple user interface convenience for people who are already sharing Chrome on the same computer today. To truly protect your data from being seen by others, please use the built-in user accounts in your operating system of choice.
In other words, the new switching features aren’t something you’d want to enable if you’re just letting someone you don’t know well borrow your laptop for a minute. However, so long as you’re sharing Chrome with people you trust, the new user switching features make it easy to share a browser or just maintain two Google profiles simultaneously.
For more details on how the new syncing features work, check out this video from the Google Chrome blog: