10/02/2009

Managing Profiles, Rethinking the Web Browser: Mastering Firefox like a Ninja 1

At the very least one needs to know what a profile is and where it resides, and how to back it up. The Mozilla support site does indicate that using profiles is for advanced users. This is great because it’s pretty simple to use them. The Mozilla website has more than enough information on how to do anything with them. However, they do not provide us with what can be done using the simple how to instructions. This is where the fun starts: What would you use profiles for.

There are two principle ways to utilize profiles. One is to uncheck the “Don’t ask at startup” button and chose the profile you want at startup, this can become cumbersome. The other is to utilize shortcuts, by changing the shortcut to point specifically to your profile by appending the target with –P “profile name”. The shortcut method may be preferred because it is very similar to using hotkeys. So you can have multiple profiles assigned to hotkeys, this means that a new set of things can be done.

If you have multiple accounts with the same website and need access to both simultaneously without restarting the browser then two windows each accessing a different profile can accomplish this. It is easy to do this if you have multiple monitors, but if you don’t have multiple monitors, then a profile switcher may be a solution, or simply switching windows constantly (alt-tab).

Below is a list of cool things that can be done:

Portability
If you need to move between many computers via flash drive, or other means like a live CD profiles are what you will be moving. Knowing about profiles is a must, how specifically to do this will be covered in a later post.

Lightweight
If you occasionally get tired of the load time of your bulky set of add-ons, a lightweight profile can be made. A profile that has no plug-ins installed, basically a quick loading light browser. Set this to a hotkey and it will be totally fast for a quick lookup tool.

Sharing
Some people have a single computer, with a single user in their house. If you’re tired of the bookmarks, or history getting messed up, a separate profile is a simple solution.

Sock Puppets
One could chat as two people at once in a chat room, via the paragraph above.

Hacking
The settings are included in the profile, so one could use multiple proxy servers to appear as multiple IP addresses.

Separating Tasks
Using different profiles for different kinds of work, i.e. one profile for work one for play is a strategy that might aid in focusing on specific types of tasks. This can be taken too far and become a nightmare to manage given all of the specifics and details.

Links:
http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Managing+profiles
http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Profiles
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_Manager

Accessing the profile manager is as simple as typing firefox -P into the RUN screen. At the very least, back up your profile about once every 3 months. It is a simple copy paste.

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