Using Different Browser Profiles

15 May 2015

A while ago, I was talking to Christian Villum about working habits and using LastPass. I separate my work browser and non-work browser. This could probably help more people who want to keep their browsing history, sync, and credentials separate.

I use two different browser profiles of Firefox when I work. Each one is themed differently to help me visually differentiate them. They also run two different versions of Firefox (Aurora and Nightly), so the logos are different. I use Awesome, so they live in different workspaces as well. I don’t do this as a config, just something I manage manually. It’s been long enough that it’s muscle memory already. An alternative is to use different browsers. My non-work browser is my default browser (and default profile), so that’s what opens up when I click a link.

Advantages

  • When I’m done with work, I just turn off my work browser, and I’m switched off from work.
  • Complete separation of history. This is helpful when I use Firefox Sync. I sync my non-work history to my phone.
  • My work profile doesn’t have my social media passwords. When I’m having a distrated day, I just turn off my non-work browser.

Disadvantages

  • Memory usage is significantly higher for running two browsers. Though, I’ve done this setup with my old laptop which only had 2GB of RAM and it worked fine.
  • Some passwords are shared between two accounts, like GitHub. I have to manually update those, which is a bit of a pain.
  • Because of how I’ve set it up, I need to start my work browser first and non-work browser second. If I change the order, the non-work browser doesn’t start up. This can be mitigated, but I specifically set it up that way :)

How to Set it Up

  • First close all running Firefox instances and re-open Firefox with the Profile Manager. firefox --ProfileManager
  • Create a new profile called Work. Once Firefox opens up, quit it.
  • Run the same command as above and select the default profile. Now quit Firefox again. This will setup the default profile as your old profile.
  • Create a shell script with the following contents. Running this will create a new instance of the Firefox with the profile called Work.

    #!/bin/sh

    firefox -new-instance -P Work

  • Remember to open Firefox as usual first and then run the shell script to open the Work profile.

Does anyone else separate work and personal browsing history?