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Chrome gets multiple-user support

More than one person can now use Chrome and keep personal data separate from other users on the same computer, thanks to today's update to Google's browser.

More than one person can now use Chrome and keep personal data separate from other users on the same computer, thanks to today's update to Google's browser.

New in Chrome 16: multiple-user support in a single instance of Chrome. (Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Google Chrome 16.0.912.63 stable for Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome Frame also adds an option to sync your Omnibox History, and it includes a number of security fixes.

Multiple-user support is similar to Chrome's Sync feature, but it's more of a complementary feature than a must-use feature. Sync allows you to always have access to the same bookmarks, history, themes and preferences. Multi-user support allows you to share a computer and maintain separate identities without logging out of the operating system. This could be useful for single-computer households or small businesses, although it potentially means that Chromebook users will have two ways to switch profiles.

When more than one account profile is synced to Chrome, a new drop-down menu appears in the upper-left corner to make it easier to switch profiles. But it's not particularly secure from prying eyes. (Screenshot by Craig Simms/CNET Australia)

Creating a new profile first requires signing into Chrome, via the Wrench menu's new "Sign into Chrome" option. Then, to add a new user, you must go back to the Wrench, choose Options (Mac users select Preferences), then Personal Stuff and finally "Add new user". This will open a new Chrome window, and from here the new user must repeat the "Sign into Chrome" procedure. The new user can also go to the Personal Stuff menu in the new window and change the user name and icon.

Chrome will open separate windows when switching between each profile.

Google cautions in its blog post announcing the feature that the multi-user profile support is not intended to secure your private data against other users. This means that although your synced data might be secured on the server, if you're logged in to Chrome with multiple profiles, anybody can switch profiles and access your personal "stuff", as Google likes to call it. This is far less secure than forcing people to re-enter passwords before each opening of a second profile.

Along with the multiple-profile support, Chrome 16 now lets adventurous types sync open tabs. You have to go through the about:flags config screen to enable it, but it does indicate that this long-missing sync option is getting close to being ready for stable Chrome users.

Other improvements in Chrome 16 are mainly security fixes, including six labelled as being "high". There were no security fixes in this release marked "critical". Check out the Chrome changelog published by Google.

Via CNET