Chrome user profiles are a powerful productivity tool

Keep your work and personal lives separate.
Google Chrome user profile feature screenshot
Chrome has cute origami animal options for your avatar. You won't even want to change it for a selfie. Sandra Gutierrez G.

You may not have used Google Chrome’s multiple user profiles before, but they’re an underrated productivity tool for anyone working from home. The feature allows you to build two radically different web-browsing experiences, keeping apps, extensions, browser history, cookies, saved payment methods, and credentials separate from one user to another.

This simple functionality also allows you to create a clear divide between your professional and personal lives by letting you customize your browser to your specific needs.

[Related: Google Chrome is finally rolling out a long-awaited feature to help cure your bad tab habits]

In upcoming weeks, Chrome will feature a profile selection screen anytime you restart the browser. If you’ve already got more than one profile set up, you’ll be able to choose which one you want to open by clicking on the corresponding avatar. For first-time users, you can create a second profile by clicking your avatar in the top-right corner of the Chrome window, then clicking Add at the bottom of the pop-up menu.

Customize your browser extensions

Each Chrome profile is a unique ecosystem of apps and extensions—what you install on one won’t transfer to any others. This can be frustrating when it comes to tools you use across all of your accounts, but it’ll also allow you to set up a suite of customized functionalities to boost any kind of experience.

For example, you could set up a work profile using all the time tracking extensions, text expanders, and productivity tools that are really only useful while you’re trying to get stuff done. Once you’re off the clock, you could switch to a personal profile with tools like coupon clipping extensions, or Pinterest. You can even go wild with novelty tools that change all mentions of the word “millennial” to “snake people.”

Stay logged into only relevant accounts

Whether you’re using Chrome’s native password manager or a browser extension like LastPass, you can choose which accounts you keep yourself logged into depending on what’s relevant to the profile. You probably don’t need unrestrained access to your favorite fanfic website when you’re working, and your Freshbooks account isn’t likely to help you relax during your off time.

[Related: Five simple tricks to speed up your browser]

Having separate profiles is also a helpful tool for digitally disconnecting from the office at the end of the day. Logging in to your professional email account only from your work profile makes it easier to unplug and take some personal time when the day is over—but if something urgent pops up, that inbox is still only a few clicks away.

This separation is especially useful on websites that don’t support multiple accounts. If you manage a professional Twitter account, for example, keeping different profiles can help you avoid disasters like accidentally tweeting your personal thoughts from your work account, which can lead to you not having a job to worry about in the first place.

Keep your bookmarks where you need them

Each Chrome user profile has its own set of bookmarks, so you can cut down on the clutter by only having available those that matter—no more diving through endless folders and subfolders of recipes and vacation rentals as you try to track down that spreadsheet you need.

You also won’t have to pollute your personal bookmarks bar with stories you stumbled upon while browsing for work. The new Chrome update also expands the Reading List feature, which was previously only available on iOS. It works a bit like Pocket, and it allows you to save articles to your user profile to read later.

Worry less about how *ahem* relevant your browser history is

It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that each Chrome profile also has its own separate browser history. This means you can search back through all the websites you’ve visited on your work profile without your browser reminding you of that peculiar medical problem you googled in a panicked haze at 2 a.m.

[Related: Chrome and Safari can help you strengthen your passwords]

In addition to keeping separate histories for each profile, Chrome also separates cookies on a per-profile basis. That might not seem like much of a big deal until your workday is interrupted by ads for ointments to help with that aforementioned health search.

Match your theme to your mood

Chrome’s new update will also support setting a different theme for each user profile. If you spend most of your personal time browsing the internet at night, you’ll be able to select a dark theme for that account to protect you from the glare.

You can also match your work profile to your company’s colors so it’s easy to visually differentiate between that and your side-hustle’s profile. Or give yourself a fun background to help you de-stress when logging in to your personal account.