Turbulent Sky
Tech Tips, Tricks and Solutions

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As you probably know, Firefox supports the creation of profiles so that different people can have their own browser configuration (buttons, add-ons, font size, etc.). If you’re not familiar with this feature, see How To Manage Profiles at the Firefox help site. A feature that’s more obscure is that you can actually run more than one profile at the same time.

Why would you want to run profiles simultaneously? I use the feature primarily so that I can check that pages look correct on a clean Firefox profile as well as on my heavily souped up one with lots of add-ons. You might also find it useful to have profiles with different add-ons for different tasks and then start one or more as needed.

Normally, if you start Firefox when a copy is already running, it’ll just start another window using the current profile. To start a completely separate instance of Firefox, add the -no-remote option. In Windows, you can either do this by selecting Run from the Start menu and typing in the entire command, or add the option to the shortcut that you use to start Firefox. On Linux, just add the option to the command line or if you’re using a GUI (e.g. Gnome, KDE, Xfce) adjust the command assigned to the desktop or menu icon that you use to start Firefox.

For example,

firefox -p Profile_Name -no-remote

will start a new instance of Firefox with the profile named “Profile_Name”. If, on the other hand, you want to choose the desired profile from the Profile Manager window, use

firefox -profilemanager -no-remote

Now you can start as many different profiles as you like. Have a novel way to make use of profiles? Leave a comment.

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18 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Great – thanks for this tip!!

    So I can run Firebug (which slows down normal browsing) in a separate profile at the same time.

  • Peter Ridge says:

    Absolutely! I’m going to be doing that as well in order to minimize overhead from development plugins when I’m just doing regular browsing.

  • Google Blog says:

    After 7 open windows the FireFox tell me FF is not working anymore. My mem is fine and my computer works fine just firefox does not want to play anymore after 7 open windows.

  • Peter Ridge says:

    Wow, you’re trying to run more than seven profiles at the same time?

  • zazuge says:

    thats a priceless tip
    i started to use multiple profiles
    recently because i need to separate
    work related items and normal browsing
    (so i can keep the tab-pages open)
    why not use only bookmarks?
    well so i can know witch pages i was reading/working on and didn’t finish yet.
    now with this tip i can further divide my profiles and work more efficiently ;)

  • Brian says:

    good for running my incognito (mozilla pornfox) profile alongside my clean profile.

  • Anonymous says:

    “good for running my incognito (mozilla pornfox) profile alongside my clean profile.”

    Same here, Codename: FapperFox

  • Joe says:

    I had to use “firefox -P Profile_Name -no-remote”

    rather than “firefox -p Profile_Name -no-remote”

    i.e. capital ‘P’

    Otherwise worked really well. Thanks for the information

  • johnny says:

    very helpful, thanks

  • Oona says:

    OMG! Thank you so much! I had multiple profiles. I just never knew how to run more than one at a time.

  • Peter Ridge says:

    @Oona: You’re welcome. It’s a very handy capability.

  • Rujax says:

    Amazing …

    so simple but working like charm for my purpose. just need to watch FF memory eaten with more profile open

  • Aras says:

    I had known about this feature but never tried it before as I didnt realize how powerful and useful this feature is! Its great for development. Its also very handy to keep my work related browsing separate from my personal browsing. Thank you for this tip!

  • Peter Ridge says:

    @Aras: You’re welcome. It’s also useful for isolating plugins that leak memory. I’ve found that several developer-oriented plugins that I use leak memory quite heavily, so it’s helpful to have separate profiles for browsing versus web development.

  • mostafa says:

    I have installed Firefox 12n and 6.0.2 on Ubuntu 12.04 then I’ve created 2 profiles Firefox and Firefox12. I’ve also put on my desk top two icons to brows each one. problem: I can only lunch the two Firefox6 and 12 from console
    code: /home/mrabet/firefox/firefox -no-remote -P “firefox6″
    or:/usr/bin/firefox -no-remote -P “firefox12″
    I can only lunch one of the two from Desktop the first one i click even if I’ve two Firefox windows!(the two of them are Firefox6 for ex if i first clicked on Firefox or the two of them are Firefox if i clicked first on Firefox)
    Can someone help? Thank you!

  • Peter Ridge says:

    @mostafa: In order to launch Firefox with specific profiles from the Ubuntu launcher, you have to edit the launcher icons to include the extra options (-no-remote and -P). You can either modify the *.desktop files directly (usually located in /usr/share/applications/ or /home/username/.local/applications/) by editing the Exec parameter in each file or use a tool such as Ubuntu Tweak. By default, the launcher icon’s command simply runs Firefox with no options.

  • Alan says:

    Thanks, I was looking for exactly this so I could run profiles for various development purposes. In particular, I wanted a “block javascript and cookies and run no plugins” options for testing graceful degradation.

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