I started out the New Year being exceptionally geeky. I wanted to run two concurrent Firefox profiles — essentially a professional and a personal version. There’s lots to read on using Firefox profiles but my case was unique in that I wanted 1) Two profiles running at once. 2) An easy way to distinguish between the two profiles in my Windows Taskbar. The second reason is why you are getting a blog post on the subject. It involved hacking together a couple of ideas.
Before I get to the details, however, you might wonder, "Why would you need to go to such extremes?" My major motivation stemmed from having to use my personal laptop while my new work laptop was being shipped. Essentially, I wanted to keep my personal Firefox profile intact and in use while using my professional Firefox profile. Over the last few weeks, however, I found this setup so useful that I’ve actually copied the setup on my new Vista ThinkPad.
This setup is particularly useful in helping me keep my personal and professional browsing separate. I can be completely professionally focused when the personal profile is shut, get easier access to each of my Delicious accounts (yes, I have two separate ones), and more generally just be better organized. This setup will also be a huge lifesaver for anyone who has to access multiple web accounts for a single service (e.g., Google Accounts for AdWords or Analytics):
Here’s the skinny on how to proceed:
1) Run Firefox’s Profile Manager.
From the command line, "firefox -profilemanager"
If you are reading this post, I assume you are a geek and already have one Firefox profile. It will be called "default". Create a new one and name it whatever you want.
2) Install another copy of Firefox in a separate location.
You need this step, so that you can use two different icon packs. Unfortunately, the way icon packs work is that each time a new one is installed, it overwrites the previous one.
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox Home\
3) Setup batch files to call each Firefox profile.
The batch files setup the necessary Firefox environment variables and also call the desired code installation. I followed the instructions for this part from this post on Hiveminds.
@echo off set MOZ_NO_REMOTE=1 start "" "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" -p "default" set MOZ_NO_REMOTE=0
(saved to a file called "default.bat")
*Note: The non-default installation path and profile name should match what was used in steps #1 and #2 above:
@echo off set MOZ_NO_REMOTE=1 start "" "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox Home\firefox.exe" -p "home" set MOZ_NO_REMOTE=0
(saved to a file called "home.bat")
4) Install Icon Packs
Launch your profiles using your newly created *.bat files and install the icon pack of choice into each respective profile. If you prefer, you can leave your default profile with the traditional Firefox icon pack. I just like customization.
Once you install the icon packs and restart each profile, your Taskbar will display the new icons.
For extra kicks, you might consider changing the icons for each bat file to reflect the icon of each profile. The icons are found in the following directory (which is created once you install the icon pack):
C:\Firefox Installation Path\chrome\icons\default\
My icon paths:
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\chrome\icons\default\
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox Home\chrome\icons\default\
One potential annoyance you will encounter is clicking on links outside of the browser (e.g., in an e-mail) will throw errors if both profiles are already running. Not a show stopper for me.