Google has updated the beta channel of its Chrome web browser with a new syncing tool that makes it easy to move between Chrome installations with all your browsing data intact.
If you’d like to try the beta channel of Chrome, head over to the beta downloads page.
Chrome has long offered some syncing capabilities, but the new features ensure that all your bookmarks, browsing history and even passwords come with you when you sign in to Chrome on any computer you use. To make the new syncing features work, you’ll need to link Chrome with your Google account. Linking up Chrome with your Google account also means that you’ll be automatically signed in to any Google services you visit.
The new syncing features can be found in the Personal Stuff section of Chrome’s preferences. Just click the button that says “New User.”
The new user profiles also mean that multiple people can easily share a single Chrome installation. Switching between active users works much as it does at the operating-system level. Clicking the New User button will open a new window with an icon in the left-hand corner that lets everyone know whose window it is. Multiple users can even have windows open at the same time. Telling them apart is just a matter of checking the icon for that window.
One thing to keep in mind is that user switching in Chrome is nowhere near as secure as user switching at the OS level. Google Software Engineer Miranda Callahan warns on the Chrome blog:
this feature isn’t intended to secure your data against other people using your computer, since all it takes is a couple of clicks to switch between users. We want to provide this functionality as a quick and simple user interface convenience for people who are already sharing Chrome on the same computer today. To truly protect your data from being seen by others, please use the built-in user accounts in your operating system of choice.
In other words, the new switching features aren’t something you’d want to enable if you’re just letting someone you don’t know well borrow your laptop for a minute. However, so long as you’re sharing Chrome with people you trust, the new user switching features make it easy to share a browser while still keeping your data separate (if not totally private).