Three generic Chrome avatar heads

Do you ever get frustrated because you are trying to use a couple different Google accounts at the same time?  You have work Gmail open in one tab, and personal Gmail open in another. When you click on an attached document in one email account, the document opens in the other account- saying you don’t have access.

Or perhaps your family shares a computer, and it gets a bit confusing when each person opens their Gmail in a new tab. The browser will just assume the most recently logged in one is the active one, so even if you come back to your own Gmail tab after your daughter has been emailing her friends, the browser will think you are her.

There’s a clean, easy way to manage using different accounts. And you can be logged into and using all of them at the same time, without the wrong document trying to open with the wrong account, or the wrong YouTube profile appearing.

Four Chrome windows, each with a different profile

Setting up a Chrome profile

These instructions assume you already have a Google or Gmail Account.

  1. Open Chrome. Click People in the nav. At the bottom of the menu click Add Person…
  2. A new Chrome window will open. Click Get Started.
  3. You’ll be walked through a few setup steps
  4. On the page that asks, “Sign in and turn on sync to get your bookmarks, passwords and more on all devices”. I always like to do this, so if I use a different computer like at my office or when visiting someone, I can add this Person in chrome there and have all the same stuff.
  5. Next it will prompt you to Sign In
  6. Next, if this is a business account you’ll be asked if you want to associate the stuff you do in Chrome here with your work Google Account. To keep all the stuff you do and save while using your work account click Link Data.
  7. Similar to Step 4, it will ask you if you want to Sync. I say Yes again.
  8. Now the browser finally loads. I’m using the same account I use at work, where I already had bookmarks and a theme installed. Those things all load now, and I have my familiar setup.
  9. Now I see my new work account in my People list.
  10. Now that I have this set up, when I have multiple accounts/browsers open, I use Command+ ~ to quickly toggle between them on a Mac, Alt+Tab on a PC.

Using theme’s to quickly tell which account is which

Now that I have all these accounts set up it can get a little annoying each time I switch I have to take a moment and make sure I’m in the right one. To make this easier I give each Person a different theme, then it is much quicker to differentiate which account is which.

  1. At the top right of the browser click the 3 dots to open the menu and select Settings.
  2. In the settings tab, scroll down to the Appearance section and beside the Theme menu item click to open the Chrome Store
  3. In the store you’ll find hundreds of themes. I generally stick with themes that will make the top of my browser and tabs a very bright color to help me quickly differentiate accounts. Once you find one you like click Add to Chrome and presto!
  4. the browser for this account now looks different from the others.