Talk:Profile Manager

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base


difference between -p and -profilemanager?

Is there difference between -p and -profilemanager? Is one supported in more versions than the other? --Np 20:45, 29 September 2005 (PDT)

-p is only supported in windows, in linux and mac os x it runs firefox -pure
So does -profilemanager work for everything we do in this article? If so, we should just change to that.--Np 22:08, 2 October 2005 (PDT)
-profilemanager "MyProfile" doesn't work on Windows to open a specific profile (it just starts the profilemanager). -p is the correct way to select a specific profile according to Even though -profilemanager is the correct way to start the profile manager, -P also works on Windows and I was able to start the firefox profile manager on Mac OS X just now using the terminal and the command, /Applications/ -p Alice 14:44, 6 October 2005 (PDT)
I don't think suggesting firefox-bin is a good idea. It would be much better to just remove all references to -p on this page because (as above), 1) -p is pure on Linux and OSX, 2) -P works on all platforms--CrazyFred 1930, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
Are you sure -P works on all platforms for all apps and it works for both opening the profile manager and opening a specific profile? If so, change it to that and let's do away with this "note: you can also do this" nonsense.--Np 06:04, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
I can't test with a Mac, but it works fine for Firefox & Thunderbird on Windows & Linux. Haven't tried Mozilla Suite at all. Basically, if you put -P without specifying a profile, the app must fall back to the profile manager. CrazyFred 06:05:00, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
Alice's link is for Suite and it includes -P as a way and it doesn't mention it not working on a Mac, so it must be good. I'll change all the references.--Np 06:11, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
-profilemanager is the correct way to access the Profile Manager. Otherwise, change in Command line arguments article is needed. Alice Wyman 06:45, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
Why do you say it's the "correct" way? Also, I see the command line arguments page meaning "here are all the possible command line arguments" which is different than what we should be shooting for here, which is "here's the easiest way to open the profile manager". I don't want to get into an edit war, but you have to explain why you've changed it back because CrazyFred and I have offered a compelling reason why the article should only state -P (i.e. because it works in all situations)--Np 07:00, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
I don't want to get into an edit war either but..........for consistency, I think that "-profilemanager" or "-ProfileManager" should be used to be in line with the Command line arguments article. If you use "-P" as the method used to access the Profile manager then I think that some reference to "-P" as an alternate to "-ProfileManager" should be included in the Command line arguments article. Alice Wyman 08:06, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
You can use -profilemanager (for clarity) or -P (for brevity), I prefer the second but it doesn't really matter. If you go firefox -help, then it says you can use -P <profile> or -ProfileManager, so the long form isn't even case sensitive. At least this page is actually correct now. Command line arguments still has a -p which should be changed to -P for platform independence. --CrazyFred 07:23:00, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
See under Syntax Rules. Says that Command actions are not case sensitive and Command parameters except profile names are not case sensitive. So, either -ProfileManager or -profilemanager (to access the Profile Manager) should both work the same, right? Also, either -p "profilename" or -P "profilename" should both work to access a specific profile, right? Seems that the only case-sensitive parameter is the profilename itself ("ProfileName" is NOT the same as "profilename") maybe that should be added to the article? Alice Wyman 09:28, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
I had a look at the code and it says the same as the page, i.e. that command line arguments are case insensitive. The key exception for this discussion is that -P/-p does make a difference on Linux & Mac, because the main executable is wrapped by a script that overrides -p to make it purify (a technique to detect run-time memory corruption errors and memory leaks). See the source file that becomes firefox in the pre1.5 builds --CrazyFred 13:20, 18 October 2005 (PDT)
OK, thanks, CrazyFred, but, neither -P nor -p is mentioned anywhere as a way to start the profile manager..... -P is only given as a way to start with a specific profile, by using it in conjunction with the profilename (as in -P "My Profile") . For the record, I tested the Terminal commands that can be used to access the Firefox Profile Manager on hubby's Mac just now (OS X 10.1.5) and here is what works and what doesn't (note that the firefox. app is in the Applications/Firefox10 folder on this system)... to summarize, -profilemanager always works, as does -P while -p only works when used with firefox-bin, as follows:
/Applications/Firefox10/ -profilemanager
/Applications/Firefox10/ -p
/Applications/Firefox10/ -P
Does NOT work:
/Applications/Firefox10/ -p
using the above command, I get the error, Cannot execute /Applications/Firefox10/ Alice Wyman 14:31, 18 October 2005 (PDT)

Profile Manager needs a warning right by the directions

Omitting the warning here is inviting disaster. Users consult this section to find out how to create a new profile. These directions are all many users will see, and they are complete except for the warning. The warning is somewhere else on the page. We recently had another user claim he lost years of work. Feel free to edit the warning, particularly for formatting, but it needs to remain right by the directions. The other warning is needed too, where it tells how to specify the profile directory.

AnotherGuest ^. I placed the warning in the Intro because it is not part of the "Accessing the Profile Manager" directions that tell you how to start the Profile Manager. I also emphasized the existing warning under "Creating a profile" and I added a new "Deleting a profile" section with a warning for Firefox and Thunderbird users. Alice Wyman 17:11, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Nice editing on the lower part of the page. I think we're narrowing in on a solution. I replaced the warning with small but conspicuous references to the warnings. I feel strongly that anyone who glances at the directions but nothing else should see that there is a warning, and it should be right there. It's smaller now, but well placed. I added it in a second place as well. I also note that the PM has a Create Folder button, at least in Windows, so some of the statements on Custom Prof. Location were not quite accurate. I don't think detailed directions are needed for this feature -- just the warning. This feature is intended for network systems managers, so I also added the disparaging remark for general users. The warning is now short and simple, I think. AnotherGuest.
On the "New Folder" button in the tree-view, it's OS-dependent. It's there for Windows XP but doesn't appear on other Windows versions, specifically, not on Win98, as mentioned in the "My Documents cleaned out" thread, here. Alice Wyman 20:22, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
P.S. Thanks for the "nice editing" comment above. I hope you like my new edits  :-) Alice Wyman 21:03, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

The WARNING: headers look weird in the TOC. Maybe just make them bold text instead of headers?--Np 23:21, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

They need to be headers to if you want to use them as anchors. I removed the word "WARNING" from the headers so they don't appear in the TOC and changed the links in the beginning of the article. Alice Wyman 01:57, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
You can make HTML anchors on wikis. Like <div id="whatev"></div>--Np 03:07, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
HTML isn't my strong point but I did find which I tried out go to linked text. It seems to leave a gap after the closing tag unless I'm doing something wrong. Thanks anyway. Alice Wyman 06:02, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
A div is a block-level element like p or h1, which means that it skips a line after it. You could also use <span id="id"></span>, which is inline.--Np 15:33, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Changing div to span works fine. Thanks again. Alice Wyman 16:40, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Move down switch profiles

Also, I don't think the Mozilla Suite's way to switch profiles should be the first thing on the page. Several Firefox users whom have been pointed to this page have said "I don't have tools -> manage profiles". These pages should be aimed at the majority and the least knowledgeable. --kbrosnan 00:45, 1 October 2005 (EDT)

Sure.--Np 22:08, 2 October 2005 (PDT)

Profile Manager and multiple instances (Linux)

I created several profiles on my linux box running Firefox 1.5. If Firefox is already running, calling firefox -profilemanager does not start Profile Manager but instead opens a new Firefox window using the current profile. Feature or bug? Daniel29 08:02, 24 November 2005 (PST)

You need to set/export MOZ_NO_REMOTE=1 if you want to run more than one profile at a time (mozilla doc). This is easy if you start firefox from a terminal, you might need a script for GUI launches. Maybe modify the firefox script itself. CrazyFred 09:06, 24 November 2005 (PST)
I know the workaround using MOZ_NOT_REMOTE=1. Still I think - for accuracy and consistency - using option -profilemanager should open Profile Manager as from a users point of view there is no reason why not. Therefore I'm voting to get reopened.

Using ./ for Linux

Peng, I'm responding to your change to the Profile Manager page to add "./" to the Linux section. I think it's a safer assumption that Firefox/Thunderbird is on the path than you happen to be in the install directory. CrazyFred 23:56 GMT, 04 Dec 2005.

"Using -P in place of -profilemanager may also work"

This adds nothing to help the user access the profile manager because there's no situation where -P will work and -profilemanager won't. Having it there just adds to the complexity of the article. I say we take it out. We should be pushing "this is the easiest way", not "here are all the possible ways".--Np 18:38, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

I think it's fine the way it is. If anything, remove "Using -P in place of -profilemanager may also work" since either -profilemanager or -ProfileManager is the method given at [1][2]. Even though -P also works, it is not a documented way of accessing the PM and may cause confusion. Majority rules? Alice Wyman 17:42, 20 December 2005 (UTC)
If anything, remove "Using -P in place of -profilemanager may also work" That exactly what I'm saying. Why give two solutions when one will work fine in all situations? Pick one as being "best" (I don't really care which any more) and don't even mention the other one.--Np 19:54, 20 December 2005 (UTC)
I still think it's fine the way it is. (You said "We should be pushing "this is the easiest way" and I misunderstood that you wanted to switch everything over to -P which is why I made the comment ... "If anything, remove -P...".) I see no harm in offering the easier -P method as an alternative. Maybe someone else has an opinion. Alice Wyman 22:32, 20 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't think it hurts to have it in the article, but IMO it's currently in there too much (3 separate times, with an example for each). I'd mention it just once, with no example. Slightly off-topic, but in line with pushing the easiest way, it seems odd that the "Accessing the Profile Manager" section doesn't begin by telling Windows users to use the pre-installed shortcuts in the Start menu. Aren't these shortcuts created by default for all 3 apps? --wintogreen 14:00, 22 December 2005 (UTC)
The Profile Manager shortcut is no longer placed in the Start menu.--Np 15:24, 22 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree with np, it just messes up the flow to repeat the same alternate way to do things three times. I changed the section to say what you're trying to do (pass a -profilemanager option) before all the O.S.-specific stuff, and mention the -P abbreviation there, once. It's much better this way (IMO — edit away if you disagree! :-). -- Spage 23:17, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
I made a slight edit, as -P is not the abbreviation for "profilemanager", it's the command line option to start the application with a specific profile. If you use -P without following it with a profile name, it defaults to the Profile Manager. Alice Wyman 00:35, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Firefox and Thunderbird: Creating a profile in a custom location is discouraged for general users.

I don't understand why creating a profile in a custom location should be discouraged, the existing text warning them about the extra step and how to chose a safe location should be sufficient. I think its reasonable to assume that any user who bothers to find and read this article knows how to create a subdirectory and can understand the warnings. Tanstaafl 00:28, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

I see your point. I removed the comment discouraging a custom profile location. Alice Wyman 02:14, 1 March 2006 (UTC)


I've been speaking to a few normal everyday users about this page. Put simply, they don't understand a word of it, seriously. As we all know, all the required information is actually there, but it is surrounded by a lot of other 'stuff'.

Users were genuinely surprised when I pointed out that to create a new profile from start to finish takes about 3 minutes - and that was AFTER they had read this page. As creating a new profile is a really fundamental, easy and effective method of solving many Firefox (and other Mozilla products) related problems, perhaps it is time that we had a simplified rewrite here?

As an example of user confusion - some are reluctant to take the advice given of even trying a new profile, as they think/assume that it will then overwrite the existing one! Thoughts?--Frank Lion 20:32, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Your point about explaining that the current profile is not lost when a new one is created is a good one. The Intro paragraph should mention that. On your other point, about users not understanding how to create a new profile even after reading this article, the problem might be that this article was written to cover multiple operating systems and Mozilla applications. The article also includes other information such as deleting a profile, creating a profile shortcut, etc, that you call "a lot of other 'stuff" . If you want to simplify the section on how to create a new Firefox profile on Windows, for example, how would you do it? Could you lay it out here for discussion? You could also write a "simplified" article just about (for example) Creating a new Firefox profile on Windows and link to it, so that those users don't have to weed through all the other stuff. Just a thought, since you asked :) Alice Wyman 01:00, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Alice, yes I'll do a version I think. We have many articles where a simplified version would suffice most user needs, but I don't feel it is correct to rewrite entire articles to do this, as important extra details would be then lost to more advanced users. Obviously, some more complicated articles just do not lend themselves to this treatment and the user will just have to 'bite the bullet' and wade through them.
Linking is a good possibility, but could lead to stuff everywhere. I think what I have in mind, is a 'Quick Start Guide' (a good, non patronising title) at the head of all the suitable articles, followed by a numbered, point by point guide. The remainder of the article then being left intact for more advanced users and, indeed, advanced problems, etc.
I say the 'head of the article' as this is where the new user problems start. If they do not understand the initial terminology, then they, er, fade rapidly. For example, in this article the very opening phrase ' You can access the Profile Manager by passing the -profilemanager' is not readily understood, as the term 'passing' in this context, is not immediately understood. (I've tested some people on this stuff). Hmm, as you may gather, I'm thinking aloud on all this. I'll do a draft soon. :) --Frank Lion 03:22, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
I think having a separate article on how to create a new profile would be beneficial. Something like
  • Why it's useful
  • It won't wipe the existing stuff
  • Easy steps on how to do it (on the level of Start -> Run -> "firefox.exe -P" -> Create Profile -> OK)
I don't see the need to create an article for each app/OS permutation, though. People are smart enough to know whether they should read the Windows header or the Linux header, and there's not much difference between the apps.--Np 04:57, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
Intro rewritten. Feel free to change it as long as you improve it.  :-) --AnotherGuest. 2 Jan 07
OK, I did  :-) Alice Wyman 17:40, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
Slight edit to Intro - reference to the original use of the Profile Manager seemed to have gone, haha - multiple users. Also addressed usual Bookmark concerns and linked to Mig. for other settings. Will still be doing a separate 'Creating a new Firefox profile - Quick Start' page. :) --Frank Lion 22:07, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
But you didn't mention anything about multiple users. You wrote "multiple user purposes". Ha-ha. Besides, that's a secret. The Mozilla drivers think everyone has a multiuser OS, and they hate the Profile Manager. --AnotherGuest. 2 Jan 07 (AD)
I did a bit more editing and added a more complete description of the Profile Manager functions to the Intro. I also moved the information about importing bookmarks and migrating settings out of the Intro, since I felt it was way to specific to be there. I added importing bookmarks to the "Creating a new profile" section since that section already included information about migrating settings to a new profile. Alice Wyman 19:02, 3 January 2007 (UTC)
Alice, I put the part about Bookmarks and Migrating settings into the Intro for a reason - to immediately address the known concerns of users. If I had wanted that information buried down on line 39 then I would have put it there myself. I have quite a bit of experience in knowing how people think, if you do not feel that this experience is of any use to the KB, please say so and I can spend my free time elsewhere. :) --Frank Lion 20:02, 3 January 2007 (UTC)
Frank, you do not need to get upset when someone edits your changes. That goes with the territory. Like I said, I felt that the information about importing bookmarks and migrating settings was way too specific for the Intro and belonged in the "Creating a new profile" section, which already included a link to the article about migrating settings to a new profile. If others feel that this information rightly belongs in the Intro, so be it. I don't want to discourage new editors or create any more controversy so I'll bow out of this article, for now. Alice Wyman 22:04, 3 January 2007 (UTC)
P.S. I can spend my free time elsewhere... goes for me, too  :-) Alice Wyman 23:08, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

"I don't want to discourage new editors" - bit late to be thinking about that now, Alice, haha. I've only been here a week, I edit an article that no one has touched since last April and suddenly the world and his wife are all over it, changing most of it back. People continually tell me that they cannot understand KB stuff and so do not use it. That's a pity for all of them and also for the people that write in the KB...because people are not reading it. I thought I could do something about that, that's all. Don't bow out, Alice, just put all the furniture back exactly as you wanted it and I'll do the Quick Starts or something else, OK? :)--Frank Lion 02:22, 4 January 2007 (UTC)
Of course it's growing a little bit too, as these things usually do. Please look at the next section entitled "Short, clear writing". He has a very good way of looking at writing that allows him to convey just the essential information with great clarity and economy of words. --AnotherGuest. 4 Jan 07 (UTC)
Back to only 2 1/2 lines now. All the info is there, including the essential info that extensions and settings can be disabled/reset for debugging; and the fact that data can be migrated into a new profile (Frank wanted this). The user should have all the encouragement needed to plunge forward.
What was sacrificed? Only redundancy, which is bad anyway in a nutshell intro. Most notably the sentence about enumeration of uses. Frank's use for multiusers is no longer mentioned, but this is about people not being able to figure this out for debugging. We don't want to dilute that, right? And besides, they have plenty of info now to figure out what to do with it. Also removed awkward language, such as application or profile "having" extensions. This took me some hours. PLEASE don't change it without very careful thought. Thanks. --AnotherGuest. 4 Jan 07

Short, clear writing

This is from a professor who places an upper limit on his students' term papers. He writes that "The idea underlying the technique is that succinct writing is good writing, and the more succinct the better." That is exactly the type of writing is needed in the Knowledge Base. Although we all strive to do that, he does it so well that it's well worthwhile to read his article. Please take a look at it, here: . --AnotherGuest. 4 Jan 07

Accessing the Profile Manager - Windows

I added back the detailed instructions for Windows users which were recently replaced with a link to the Creating a new Firefox profile on Windows article. This article is also for Thunderbird Mozilla Suite and SeaMonkey users and those applications provide a Profile Manager shortcut. Additionally, the instructions for the full path to the executable is also helpful in case the simpler method doesn't work, for example, in zip builds. In fact, the Creating a new Firefox profile on Windows article links back to this one for such cases. Alice 23:35, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Prominent warning box

The prominent large colored box with bold warning text is excessive, and gives the impression that the profile manager is this scary dangerous thing. The warning text in the two sections is sufficient. While it is important to warn the user when they can shoot themselves in the foot we need to avoid acting like a nanny. I don't agree that SeaMonkey 2 supporting the profile manager justifies this change. Tanstaafl 21:32, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

I removed the colored box. Alice 21:43, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

No path

The instructions on how to run the profile manager under Windows assume that anything typed in start->run is on the path. That doesn't match what I'm used to seeing. Mozilla applications are normally not added to the path. Notice that shortcuts for Firefox and Thunderbird specify the executable's location in "target". Why does the article state that you can just type firefox -p at start->run? Tanstaafl 05:25, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

The article says to use firefox.exe -P which should work in most cases. It also says this, which should cover those cases where it doesn't work:
For a zip install, if you have multiple installations of Firefox, Thunderbird or SeaMonkey, or if the above instructions do not work, include the full path to the executable surrounded by quotation marks in the "Run" (or Vista "Start Search") box, as in this Firefox example <snip>
Anyway, I made an edit to the article to add a 64-bit Windows example, shortened both to use -P instead of -profilemanager, added more information on finding the path to the exe file and included a link to a screenshot showing the Target field in a Firefox shortcut. Alice 11:51, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. However, the Windows section still makes the faulty assumption that you can run Thunderbird from start->run without specifying the path. Thunderbird is different. I suggest you see the common problems section in . I added that due to so many Thunderbird users having problems launching the profile manager even when we explained they needed to specify the full path. Tanstaafl 11:05, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
I added specific examples for SeaMonkey and Thunderbird using the full path to the executable. Alice 20:46, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Profile Manager going away

The note is too Firefox specific. The Thunderbird developers for example have the option of keeping the existing profile manager. They might be forced to eventually drop it and switch to the replacement, but AFAIK they have the option of deciding when to do that, and might wait until a more user friendly replacement was available. SeaMonkey is not in lock step with Firefox releases (and are independent, so its not Mozilla's decision) so its possible they might delay making that switch for several versions.

It should also mention that only the GUI is disappearing, the command line arguments will still work. i.e. if you use a shortcut to start a Mozilla application using a specified profile it will still work. claims otherwise ("It means that it will no longer be possible to launch the profile manager with parameters"), but comment 80 in says "Yes, you can still select an existing profile. It's only the UI that will be removed.". Tanstaafl 10:49, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

I edited the note to mention that the user interface is going away. Alice 20:45, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Profile Manager not going away any time soon?

I commented out warning on the profile manager being removed. Bug 214675 - Remove Profile Manager UI is still open, but is no longer assigned (see comment by Benjamin Smedberg 2013-01-17: "I am not working on this currently". Alice 21:58, 6 March 2013 (UTC)