Running Multiple Firefox Profiles for Fun and Profit

July 10, 2011 at 01:07 PM | Uncategorized | View Comments

For a long time I have found it useful to run three (or more) different browsers: Safari for my day-to-day browsing, Firefox for my development work and Camino for Facebook and Google apps. This separation is part pragmatism – it's useful to clear cookies or disable FlashBlock while I'm developing without my main browser being affected – and part paranoia – I'm not logged in to Facebook or Google on my main browser, so it's harder for them to track me and I'm less likely to be hurt by a cross-site-scripting (or similar) attack.

Recently Safari's memory leaks [0] and the launch of Firefox 5 have pushed me to re-evaluating my browser preferences... And this is the result:

/uploads/FirefoxIcons.png

Three customized versions of Firefox and three profiles to match.

The customizations are straight forward:

  1. Firefox.app was copied three times, and the name was to the role of that copy (“Browsing.app”, etc).
  2. The icon was changed on each app.
  3. The CFBundleName in $NAME.app/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/InfoPlist.strings was changed from “Firefox” to $NAME (changing the application name which appears in the top left corner of the screen).
  4. After the “Browsing” profile was setup (correct plugins installed, etc), it was copied twice to create the “Dev” and “Facebook” profiles (profiles are stored at ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/, and the profiles.ini file, in Application Support/Firefox/, must also be updated).
  5. A persona was added to the “Facebook” and “Dev” profiles (specifically a pastel sky blue and pastel mandarin).
  6. NoScript was installed on the “Facebook” profile (for a little bit of added paranoia).

With these customizations, it's easy to visually distinguish between the browsers, both from the main windows:

/uploads/StackedBrowsers.png

And from the dock/command+tab application list:

/uploads/BrowsersDockView.png

And that's my current browsing setup :)

[0]it would be using almost a gigabyte of memory, even if I only had one or two tabs open.