Multiple Firefox profiles

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A profile in Firefox is the collection of settings, customizations, and personalizations that a user has made in the program. You can find details about Profiles on Mozilla's end-user support site.

Reasons to have multiple profiles

For the casual user, you may want to have different profiles for different family members. This allows each person to have their own set of bookmarks, settings, and add-ons, and not have them be all mixed together in one.

For web developers, you may want to be able to test your website, Web app, or project on different Firefox channels, without mixing up your primary profile. For example, you might want to have the Firebug add-on installed for Web development, but not for general-purpose Web browsing. If you are using the Nightly channel, some add-ons might become temporarily incompatible with new API changes, until the add-on developer has a chance to update them; you can remove such add-ons from your profile for Nightly use, while keeping them for use with other profiles.

Available browser development channels

There are four available browser channels, each at a different level of stability and development. The four channels are Release, Beta, Aurora, and Nightly. The Release channel is recommended for most users, as it is the "official release" channel. However, for those more adventurous, you can try one of the other three channels to see what is coming in Firefox and play around with emerging features. The Beta channel contains the features that are expected to be in the next release of Firefox and are in final stages of testing. Aurora contains experimental features, which are not yet at beta quality. Nightly contains the latest code from Firefox developers; it is the least stable channel.

Profile management

Note: On all operating systems, before you can start the Profile Manager, Firefox must be completely closed.

These instructions are tentatively going away in favor of a new profile manager. You can find more details at Profile Manager

Starting Profile Manager in Windows

Windows XP

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Click "Run"
  3. Type "firefox -ProfileManager"

Windows Vista/7

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Click the search bar at the bottom.
  3. Type "firefox -ProfileManager"

Windows 8/8.1

  1. Press "Windows + R" on your keyboard.
  2. Type "firefox -ProfileManager".

If the Profile Manager window does not open, Firefox may have been running in the background, even though it was not visible. Close all instances of Firefox or restart the computer and then try again.

Starting Profile Manager in Linux

If Firefox is already included in your Linux distribution or if you have installed Firefox with the package manager of your Linux distribution:

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the File menu and select Quit.
  2. In Terminal run:
    firefox --ProfileManager

If the Profile Manager window does not open, Firefox may have been running in the background, even though it was not visible. Close all instances of Firefox or restart the computer and then try again.

Starting Profile Manager in Mac OSX

Use the following tutorial until someone can test and step-by-step on a mac directly. Easily Run Multiple Firefox Instances on a Mac.

Creating a profile

These instructions should be the same for all operating systems.

  1. To start the Create Profile Wizard, click "Create Profile..." in the Profile Manager.
  2. Click Next and enter the name of the profile. Use a profile name that is descriptive, such as your personal name. This name is not exposed on the Internet.
  3. You can also choose where to store the profile on your computer. To choose its storage location, click Choose Folder....
  4. Note: If you choose your own folder location for the profile, select a new or empty folder. If you choose a folder that isn't empty and you later remove the profile and choose the "Delete Files" option, everything inside that folder will be deleted.
  5. To create the new profile, click Finish.

Deleting a profile

  1. In the Profile Manager, select the profile to remove, and click Delete Profile....
  2. Confirm that you wish to delete the profile:
    • Don't Delete Files removes the profile from the Profile Manager yet retains the profile data files on your computer in the storage folder, so that your information is not lost. "Don't Delete Files" is the preferred option because it saves the old profile's folder and allows you to recover the files to a new profile.
    • Delete Files removes the profile and its files, including the profile bookmarks, settings, passwords, etc.

      Warning: If you use the "Delete Files" option, the profile folder and files will be deleted. This action cannot be undone.

    • Cancel interrupts the profile deletion.

Renaming a profile

  1. In the Profile Manager, select the profile you want to rename, and then click "Rename Profile".
  2. Enter a new name for the profile and click on OK.
  3. Note: The folder containing the files for the profile is not renamed.

Options

Work Offline

Choosing this option loads the selected profile and starts Firefox offline. You can view previously viewed web pages and experiment with your profile.

Don't ask at startup

If you have multiple profiles, Firefox prompts you for the profile to use each time you start Firefox. Select this option to allow Firefox to load the selected profile without prompting at startup.

Note: To access other profiles after selecting this option, you must start the Profile Manager first.

Using the profiles

Windows

If you want to have the profile manager to pop up each time you start Firefox, so you can choose a profile, you will need to edit the "Target" of the launch icon. To do this:

  1. Right click the icon and choose "Properties".
  2. When the properties dialog box pops up, you should see a "Target" text field that you can edit, and it should show the current file path.
  3. After the closing quote, add "-ProfileManager"
  4. Click Ok.

Now whenever you double click that icon, the profile manager should appear, allowing you to choose which profile you'd like to use.

If you want individual icons to launch specific profiles, you will need to edit the "Target" of each icon. To do this:

  1. Right click the icon and choose "Properties".
  2. When the properties dialog box pops up, you should see a "Target" text field that you can edit, and it should show the current file path.
  3. To permanently set a specific profile, add "-p PROFILE_NAME" to the target path, but outside of the quotes, replacing "PROFILE_NAME" with the actual profile name you chose.
  4. If you would like to also allow multiple instances of Firefox to run at the same time, add "-no-remote" after the profile name.

Once you are all done, click Ok. Do this for each icon you'd like to have a specific profile for. Once done, each one should automatically start with the specified profile.

Linux

There is no extremely straightforward way to create custom application launchers in Gnome 3 like there was in Gnome 2. The following tutorial will help get you going overall: Gnome 3 Custom application launcher. Once you get to the point of adding a new item, you can have the profile dialog show up every time or set the launcher to launch a specific profile.

If you want to have the profile manager to pop up each time you start Firefox, so you can choose a profile, you will need to set the command line for your new launcher.

  1. Set the "command" text field to target the executable file, likely "/usr/bin/firefox", and add the "-p" parameter.

If you want individual icons to launch specific profiles, you will need to set the command line for your new launcher. To do this:

  1. Set the "command" text field to target the executable file, likely "/usr/bin/firefox", and add the "-p PROFILE_NAME" parameter, replacing "PROFILE_NAME" with the specific profile.
  2. Repeat as necessary for each profile you want to set.
  3. If you would like to also allow multiple instances of Firefox to run at the same time, add "-no-remote" after the profile name.

Mac OSX

You can find a useful tutorial to set up custom launchers here: Managing Multiple Firefox Profiles in OSX. Do note it's best to follow all steps in the "Creating the scripts" section, including the "edit Info.plist" step. Leave off the profile name if you want the profile selector to show up every time you launch.

Setting up multiple profiles for different Firefox Channels

This section will be especially helpful if you are a developer wanting to work with multiple channels and each having their own separate launcher.

Windows

In Windows, the Aurora and Nightly builds get their own directory in the "Programs" folder, so you don't have to worry about where to store the downloaded files. However, all three will attempt to use the same profile by default, and you'll want to not keep this because the different channels have different levels of features. To set each launcher, follow the Windows instructions at Windows Launcher

Linux

In Linux, things aren't as automatically set up, and you will likely get a prompt to download a tar.bz2 file to extract from. Extract the files to a new directory and use the new launcher instructions from here. The only change you will need to make is the command path. You will want to set it to the directory you extracted the Firefox channel's tar.bz2 file into, and the executable "firefox" file located within. The remaining profile assignment methods will remain the same. You will want to, for sure, add the "-no-remote" part to the end of the command field, so that you could run multiple instances at the same time.

Mac OSX

You can find a useful tutorial to set up custom launchers here: Managing Multiple Firefox Profiles in OSX. Do note it's best to follow all steps in the "Creating the scripts" section, including the "edit Info.plist" step. Also you'll want to change the path in the do shell script to point to the correct .app file for the Firefox channel you want to target.

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Contributors to this page: vertigoback, Hilary, tw2113, georgialyle, jswisher, RomitChaks, Neil
Last updated by: georgialyle,