Jan 16, 2015

Google Apps: New Chrome User Switcher

The latest Google Chrome update includes a small, but major change in the user interface.  This change makes it easier for different people to access their Google account on shared computers. It also makes it much easier to completely remove all personal data when done.

But this may not be idea in all situations. An example: My personal laptop is used at both home and work. I currently have 13 Google profiles that I frequently access.  I have grown accustomed to quickly accessing accounts by selecting a colorful icon in the upper left corner of the screen.

The new user identifier, which is the Google username, is less helpful as it requires reading. I know how this sounds: I am a librarian, an educator, and champion for literacy who wants pictures over words. (Graphic novels and wordless books are great to read.)  My personal account is a bright green head, my work account is a bright yellow happy face, and my test teacher account is a red pizza. These icons were chosen because they are visually dissimilar and quickly distinguishable.

In the new interface nearly all usernames are email addresses, many end with the same domain. Several of the email addresses have a near identical length. This will require more than a quick glance to ensure I am in the right account when browsing, bookmarking, or uploading documents. (Gmail is a non-issue, each account has its own customized theme).

So if you are like me and prefer the visual over the text, follow the steps below to bring back the icons:
  1. Open Chrome
  2. In the address bar, type: chrome://flags
  3. Search (Control-F) or browse for "Enable new profile management system"
  4. Choose "Disabled" in the drop down.
  5. Now search (Control-F) or browse for "Enable the new avatar menu"
  6. Choose "Default" in the drop down.
  7. To restart the browser, click "Relaunch Now" (found at bottom of screen)


Heed the warning at the top of flags page:
We make absolutely no guarantees about what may happen if you turn one of these experiments on, and your browser may even spontaneously combust. Jokes aside, your browser may delete all your data, or your security and privacy could be compromised in unexpected ways.
Don't make changes to settings that you don't fully understand!


Learn more:
Manage multiple Chrome profiles (Google support site)
All About Chrome Flags (Adobe blog)