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Revealing the Firefox Secret Used by Top Web Developers and Power-Browsers


Profiles are one of the best kept secrets around regarding Mozilla Firefox (my browser of choice).

In the role of web site designer, I find it useful to have Firefox set up with various Extensions for helping test compliance, keep track of Google Adsense earnings, checking PageRank and Alexa rating, etc...

However, when I am simply surfing the internet, I don't want to be weighed down by all these tools, cluttering up my status and toolbars. I like a slick, simple browser that looks good and works quickly.

Fortunately, I am able to have both of these scenarios in Firefox, through the wonder of Profiles.

How do Firefox Profiles work?

Firefox allows multiple users to set up the browser to suit their own specific needs and tastes, from Themes and Extensions to Bookmarks and Home Page. Upon startup of Firefox, you are able to choose which user profile you would like to use. So, you can now have a profile for your web development needs, one for your personal surfing, and even one for the kids (allowing you to increase Firefox's security measures). Each profile is independent of the others, so it's like having a new installation for each user.

How do I activate Firefox Profiles?

1. Firstly, find the Firefox shortcut on your desktop (or create one from the .exe file).

2. Right-click it, and select properties.

3. Lastly, in the Target box, add ' -p' without the apostrophes to the end of the target line (so that it reads something like 'C:Program FilesMozillaFirefoxfirefox.exe -p'), and click OK.

Now when you start Firefox through this shortcut you will be prompted with the Profiles Manager box (as long as you do not already have an instance of Firefox open). It's all self-explanatory from thereon.

For faster start-up, I advise that you keep two shortcuts on your desktop - one to load up Firefox as normal, and this new one to execute only when you want to change profile.

Rob Barrett is a professional web designer based in Dorset, England.
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