Firefox Profiles

In essence Firefox profile encapsulates user information: bookmarks, cookies, history, private information, e.g. passwords and so on. Which makes them very useful in many occasions, e.g.

  • Different people sharing the same computer and not willing to create different users on operating system level. Especially with blooming social networks, blogs and other sites where logging in is required, it’s much easier to keep different profiles, than log-out and log-in each time, to each site.
  • Even for the same person who is using the same machine for different purposes, this feature can allow to separate the roles of the machine, from web browsing perspective, e.g. “home”, “work”, etc.
  • Sometimes creating separate profile is also good when working on a specific project which requires a large amount of bookmarks, which can be deleted once the project is complete.
  • Finally profiles are very useful in testing, as they allow to simulate different users without the pain of creating different sessions on OS level

Without further configuration Firefox usese a default profile (in early versions of Firefox you could see it every time you opened a browser). In Firefox 2 or 3, however, you need to start Profile Manager purposely to see the profile you are using and to create/delete additional profiles.

Summary of the commands:

  1. Start Profile Manager
     firefox.exe -ProfileManager

    The switch is not case-sensitive, thus you can type -profilemanager. And in addition you can use -p or -P switch: their meaning is slightly different, according to the command line reference, but they open the same Profile Manager anyways. Usually there’s no need to specify the full path to Firefox (e.g. C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\). With -ProfileManager switch alone, Profile Manager will only start if you don’t have another instance of Firefox running. Thus

  2. Start Profile Manager, while another instance of Firefox is already running, or open Firefox with multiple profiles simultaneously (works with Firefox 2 or higher):
        firefox.exe -P -no-remote

  3. Start Firefox with a specified profile:
        firefox.exe -P "profile name" [-no-remote]

    A -no-remote switch in this case again is only required if another instance of Firefox with different profile is already running.

  4. Create a new profile:
        firefox.exe -CreateProfile "profile name" [-no-remote]

    Once again, -CreateProfile switch is not case-sensitive, and -no-remote switch is only needed if another instance of Firefox is already running.

  5. Create a new profile in the non-default location:
        firefox.exe -CreateProfile "profilename profile_path" [-no-remote]

    Here profile name and path must be quoted together.

  6. Finally, you can start Firefox with a profile, that is not defined through the Profile Manager (useful when you need to test something, with a profile that you recieved, say, from a customer):
        firefox.exe -profile "X:\myprofile" [-no-remote]

  7. And this is how to recreate a default profile

Profiles are defined in the file called profiles.ini, on Windows located in %APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox folder. An explanation of the file structure and the meaning of the values is provided on Profiles.ini_file Mozillazine page.

I couldn’t find an official reference to confirm this number, but from what I’ve seen, Firefox allows up to 20 profiles per Windows user.

Firefox Profiles

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