Firefox user Asian Angel loves Portable Firefox for projects like creating a Google Chrome clone, but you can also use it to run multiple, sandboxed instances of the browser at the same time. What's the point? Well, it lets you log into multiple accounts at the same service (like Gmail) in different windows, and run certain extensions and styles in one browser instance but not another. Using Portable Firefox you can easily back up your customised installations and run them anywhere. Reader Asian Angel explains how she assembled a colorful "Firefox six pack" using the portable app.
This can be especially useful (or just plain fun) if you happen to be running a program like Yod'm 3D (last freeware version—foutth listing on page) or need to access multiple email accounts (i.e. Yahoo or Gmail for instance) at the same time.
A nice thing about using portables is the ability to have a copy ready to go with all of your extensions, settings, bookmarks, etc. intact if you have to do a fresh O.S. install. I try to make a backup copy of my portables once a week.
First things first, download a copy of portable Firefox if you do not already have it.
01. Install portable Firefox to the desktop temporarily until the modifications to run multiple instances are finished. I have renamed the installed folder "Portable Firefox" solely for the purpose of these instructions. Name the folder whatever works best for you.
02. Once that is done, expand the installed folder using Windows Explorer or an equivalent app (Cubic Explorer pictured here) and find the Source folder. Portable Firefox —> Other —> Source.
03. Inside the Source folder, you will find a file named "FirefoxPortable.ini". This is the file that needs to be modified in order to run multiple instances. Note: This is also the location for the
Readme.txtfile that gives detailed descriptions for each of the options in the
FirefoxPortable.inifile and where it needs to be placed after being modified.
04. Using your favourite text editor (Editra pictured here) to open the file, you can now make the necessary modifications.
05. The first change to make will be to the "AllowMultipleInstances" option. The default setting is "false" and needs to be changed to "true". Note: Make certain that "true" is lower-case only...
06. The second change concerns the portable apps splash screen and is optional. This is for those who do not want to see the splash screen display on startup. The default setting for "DisableSplashScreen" is "false" and needs to be changed to "true". Notes: Make certain that "true" is lower-case here as well. This will not affect the Splash! extension if you wish to use it.
07. Save the changes that have been made to the "FirefoxPortable.ini" file.
08. Once that is done, it is time to copy the "FirefoxPortable.ini" file to its new location.
09. Paste the "FirefoxPortable.ini" file into your main folder where the "FirefoxPortable.exe" is located (i.e. Portable Firefox).
10. Move your portable Firefox folder to Program Files and create a shortcut to the "FirefoxPortable.exe" file. Locate your new shortcut wherever is the most convenient for you.
Now you are ready to run your new portable version alongside your regularly installed version of Firefox and modify it with extensions and themes as desired. It will not access the extensions or themes that are associated with your regular install of Firefox.
Note: You will not be able to run multiple instances of your portable Firefox from the same folder in Program Files. To run additional instances, make a copy of the folder and give it a different name. Create a new shortcut to the new folder.
Here is an example from my Vista SP1 computer. I have five portable versions running at the same time as my regularly installed version of Firefox. Pictured left to right:
Firefox 3.0.3 with Light Styles Theme
Firefox 3.0.3 with IE8FF Theme
Firefox 3.0.3 with Red Cats (Green Flavor) Theme
Firefox 3.0.3 with Chromifox Theme
Ice Weasel 3.0 with Infinity Theme
Thanks for the detailed instructions, Asian Angel—great work! Anyone out there using multiple Firefox instances to separate their work into roles or onto separate virtual desktops? Tell us about it in the comments.