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14 Dec 11 Chrome 16 adds multiple user account support

Another six weeks, another Google Chrome release. To close out 2011, you’ll be running Chrome 16 and there’s one key feature the folks at Mountain View want to introduce to you: multiple user accounts.

The feature arrived on Chrome’s beta channel early last month, and it provides a handy way to keeps favorites and login information separate on a shared computer. That is to say, on a computer you share with people you trust, like family and close friends. See, there’s no password protection offered. Switching between accounts is a two-click operation, and it’s not the kind of feature you’d want to tap into on a computer located in a library or hotel lobby.

Even on a family PC, you might not want to set up multiple accounts if you’ve got autofill payment information stored and passwords remembered for online shopping sites. You don’t need any Justin Bieber biographies being surreptitiously purchased from Amazon by a youngster with just enough internet savvy to execute a one-click order now, do you?

For those of you who like to maintain separate profiles for workday and after-hours browsing, however, multiple profiles is a very welcome addition to Chrome. Keep all those productivity-killing bookmarks filed away in one profile and your favorite apps and tools in another. You can also use it to roll different sets of extensions and Chrome Web Apps for on-the-fly switching.

If you’re looking for a secure way to let multiple people use Chrome on a single computer and you still want things kept separate and secure, head to your operating system’s settings screens and add a new account or two and set up a password.

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