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Lacros browser user profile switching on Chromebooks

How Lacros improves Chrome profile switching on Chromebooks

I’ve been reporting that when your Chromebook replaces Chrome with the new Lacros browser, you shouldn’t see any feature changes. However, Lacros does bring one feature improvement that’s worth noting: Improved profile switching on Chromebooks.

If you’re not familiar with the Lacros browser, here’s a quick refresher. It’s essentially a Linux-based version of the Chrome browser but it’s not as tightly integrated with Chrome OS. It has the same features as the standard Chrome browser.

The reason Google is decoupling the Chrome browser from the ChromeOS system is to make it easier to manage changes across Chrome for all systems. This means the browser on a Chromebook can be updated separately from ChromeOS on a Chromebook.

Here’s a perfect example of how this helps you.

Today, Chrome users on Linux, macOS, and Windows have an easy way to switch user accounts or profiles in the browser. This has long been a pain point for the rest of us because profile switching on Chromebooks isn’t as robust. I have two Google accounts, for example. One for personal use and one with my local community college. It’s difficult to switch between the two in ChromeOS.

Lacros browser makes it easy to manage profile switching on Chromebooks
Lacros puts profile options in the browser instead of ChromeOS

That changes with Lacros.

Using Lacros as my primary browser on the ChromeOS 116 Beta Channel, I was easily able to add both personal and school accounts to my Chromebook. And it’s now easy to switch back and forth between the two or run both profiles at the same time in the browser.

Here are both profiles in different browser windows on my Chromebook. I broke them out into separate windows for illustration, however, they can be used as different tabs in the same browser window. Note that each profile window manages its own tabs. You can’t have tabs from different profiles together in the same browser window.

Lacros browser improves profile switching on Chromebooks

Essentially, I can manage or access all of my Google information, apps, and emails for both Google accounts with this improved profile switching on Chromebooks. And that’s a huge benefit, at least for those who use multiple Google accounts in ChromeOS.

However, the solution as it stands today isn’t perfect.

Remember, Chromebooks are tied directly to Google accounts. That means the Google ID you use to set up your Chromebook will always be your primary account. The only way you can change that is to add secondary Google accounts to your Chromebook as user accounts and then log into one of them upon bootup. Of course, you’d need the profile switching to use other Google accounts in that session.

Even so, this is another big benefit that the Lacros transition plan will bring to Chromebooks if you have multiple Google accounts.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

10 thoughts on “How Lacros improves Chrome profile switching on Chromebooks

    1. Yes, you are right, and if everything proceeds in a perfectly logical manner Lacros will land with v96 (but not before). And, while that seems likely to happen there is just a bit of room for doubt. The duration between v96 and v97 is 5 weeks, which to state the obvious isn’t 4 or 6 weeks, so it is hard to assess the implications of that. So, again, Lacros probably will land with v96 but it definitely will feature by v98 (whether prominently or behind a flag).

      Kevin, are you seeing any speed ups in screen drawing/window rendering with v98/Beta channel? It is interesting that Chromebook enthusiasts invented the myth that extending the life of Chromebooks was the primary reason that Google sought to switch to Lacros when Google clearly stated in print that the reasons were to simplify and align development work with the teams that were best equipped to do the work and secondarily to achieve accelerated window rendering improving the user experience of the Chrome OS platform.

      1. My comment was in response to Chris Worsley. The reference v98/Beta channel was a typo – I meant v96/Beta.

        1. Jeez. v96/Dev (v96/Beta isn’t due for a week but will be interesting to check out when it lands).

  1. I thought they needed the simplifying of Chrome OS that Lacros would bring (i.e. the decoupling of the browser from the OS) to allow them to achieve syncing the 4 week version cycle time of Chrome for Chrome OS (Lacros) with Chrome on the other platforms.. If that’s the case doesn’t a ‘ready for prime-time’ Lacros become a prerequisite of syncing to that 4 week cycle?
    Perhaps I’m over-simplifying it….

  2. “It’s difficult to switch between the two in Chrome OS.”

    I’m usually signed in to more than one account and switching is super simple:-

  3. If they push this too quick lots can can go wrong, after all it’s essentially changing the whole OS because the OS only ever was Chrome. Am sure everyone will say it’ll be easy but I bet it if they rush this a lot will go wrong or annoy people. On top of that I bet their will be a performance loss because of this and new security issues.

    Many risks to take just to please a handful of users. I’m not against this happening, but if they are not careful they will annoy a lot of people. Something like this needs to be handled very carefully or Google are just going to mess up like Microsoft.

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