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Use multiple Chrome Profiles when debugging

Awhile back, I read about using separate Chrome profiles^[Read Vitaly Friedman’s DevTools Debugging Tips And Shortcuts] for debugging. The idea is to have specific environments that are specially configured to debug different kinds of issues.

While the article mentioned many different profiles for different users and scenarios, I’ve found myself settling on three: my main profile, the guest profile, and a DevTools profile.

The main profile is where I am signed into Google with my personal or work email address. If you use Google Chrome regularly and have a Google account, you probably have a profile setup already. This is where I do most of my development and debugging work. I have a selection of extensions installed and a few resources like bookmarks and snippets to help my workflow. The first step when debugging is to use my current setup – if I can get things reproducing here, great! But if I have to alter settings or clear data, then I reach for something else.

The next option is the default Guest profile in Chrome. When switching to a guest profile, you lose the session and any information stored in the browser. It’s a clean slate. This is helpful when you want to reproduce the bug in a particular scenario but don’t want to logout or toggle feature flags on your main profile. Guest profiles have full access to the browser’s DevTools but do not support extensions. For that, I have a third option.

Finally, I have a profile specifically for DevTool extensions. Here I have the React DevTools installed, and any additional else that would be helpful when debugging. If I know that I am investigating a React issue, I will switch over to this profile and then explore the tree with the Components panel or run tests in the Profiler. Any created profile will save site data, so I make a point of frequently resetting everything to ensure a clean environment for reproducing bugs.

With these three profiles, I find that I’m better able to identify and fix issues that I encounter when developing. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Happy debugging!

About the author

Sean McPherson is a software engineer for Khan Academy who specializes in web and mobile app development. He lives with his wife, sons, and dog in Pittsburgh, PA.