Separate Chrome instances for different gmail accounts

Let’s face it, these days, having more than one email account seems to be the norm. At minimum, you have a personal email account and a work email account. Chances are that more than one of those accounts is on the Google gmail and / or apps platform. Furthermore, you use the same computer to access all of these accounts. Sounds familiar? So how do you access these accounts without having to log in / out of the profile in the browser?

Google actually attempts to solve this problem by allowing you to have more than one profile in the same browser and you can easily switch contexts. This solution works most of the time.  Where it stops working, at least for me, is when I want to switch between browser windows and have each one be open to a different email account (particularly useful in a dual monitor environment).  In this case, the solution is to use two different browsers.  By having one browser (Chrome) and another browser (Firefox) logged into different accounts, I’m able to easily switch between email accounts and profiles.

So far so good.

Today I ran into a scenario where I actually needed to have two separate instances of Chrome, one for each email account.  Reason being, that one of the plugins that I use for gmail, is only available for the Chrome browser.  Thankfully, there is a way to run another instance of Chrome with a completely different profile, logged in at the same time.  These are the steps.

  1. Create a desktop shortcut to the Chrome executable or copy the existing shortcut.
  2. Right click on the shortcut and select “Properties”
  3. Add this parameter at the end of the “chrome.exe” application call: –user-data-dir=c:\[profile dir]\[new profile name]
  4. [profile dir] is any directory where you want to store the new profile, for example “c:\chrome”.  [new profile name] is the name of the new directory where you want to sore the new profile.  For example: “c:\chrome\mycompanyname”.
  5. Save the updated short cut.
  6. Run Chrome using the updated short cut and voila, you can now have two instances of Chrome running with two distinct profiles. I also renamed the shortcut to correspond to the specific profile which it was used for.

Giving credit where credit is due, this article was the basis for the instructions in this blog entry.

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