Web Browser Wednesday

I am probably testing a new Firefox extension everyday but I hardly keep any of them. As of right now I consistently use 9 extensions but they each save me so much time that I am always on the lookout for some more great ones. I’ll never be able to find any if I don’t give them a try which is why I have an easy way to test Firefox extensions without putting your current profile at risk.

It is easy to uninstall an extension so what is the big deal about trying it out on your normal profile to see if you like it? Well, there isn’t anything wrong with it except that many extensions will write settings to your Firefox profile and when you uninstall the extension it doesn’t delete the settings in case you decide to reinstall it later. So, much like the Windows Registry, your Firefox profile will start to become bloated.

For awhile I just had a Firefox Portable installation that I would use for testing any new extensions but then I decided to create a completely separate profile that used my normal Firefox installation. When I was setting that up I stumbled upon a Profile Manager that Firefox has to select between multiple profiles.

Note: In the screenshots below it says “Bon Echo” instead of Firefox because I am using a test version of Firefox.

To use the Profile Manager you can open up the Run command from the Start Menu and type firefox.exe -ProfileManager into the box. The simpler way in my opinion is to duplicate your existing Firefox shortcut and change it to include that parameter:

Firefox Profile Shortcut

If you don’t put that parameter on the end then it will always use your default profile and will never prompt you to select which profile you want to use. That is why I said duplicate your existing shortcut because you will primarily be using your default profile so there is no sense in have the Profile Manager pop-up each time. I just put the Profile Manager shortcut in my Accessories folder so that I don’t get it confused with the other one.

Once you do run the new shortcut then you will receive a screen like this:

Firefox Profile Selector/Manager

You will probably only have one profile to start off with whereas I have already created a profile for testing as well. To create a new profile you just have to select the respective button and you should eventually receive this screen:

Firefox Create A New Profile

After you create an additional profile you are all set to beat it up and test away. It is also useful in case you want to determine why you are having a problem with your current profile by being able to start fresh and still have the option to return to your old profile.

If you are looking for more information on managing Firefox profiles you will probably find Mozilla’s help page to be quite useful. They show you where your profiles can be located on all of the operating systems except Windows Vista. If you’re wondering where you can find the profile in Vista just look at the details in the previous screenshot that I took because it shows where the profile was going to be created.

Let us know if you have any other cool profile tricks!