Since moving to the Mac, I’ve tried to use Safari almost exclusively. I definitely like it, and it’s got some great tools, but I usually found myself running back to Firefox 2 whenever I had to really do work on a website because I really like some the power Firefox extensions give me. A couple of the things NOT too like about Firefox 2 was the heavy memory usage, the crashing, and the lack of native Mac OS X widgets.
I’ve been playing with Firefox 3 betas off and on, but yesterday I noticed Firefox 3 release candidate 2 is out! This is likely going to be the last pre-release until the official launch, it has fixed a lot of bugs, and it solves some of my nagging issues. Memory usage is better, crashing less frequent, and we now have native widgets! Of course, I use Firefox for work, so to use FF3 I need my extentions which haven’t all been available till now:
Yesterday I mentioned this to my co-worker who expressed concern about being able to test in Firefox 2. We already have this issue with IE6/IE7 and there’s no good solution for that but to have an extra copy of Windows with only IE6 installed. (yes, you can try weird hacks like this, but they don’t always seem to work)
Well, with Firefox (old and new) there’s this snazzy profile manager tool, which lets you choose what profile you want to use.
First, if you want to have multiple copies of Firefox installed, just name them differently. When you download Firefox the app is named “Firefox” I’m planning to use Firefox 3 as my standard now, so I’ve left it named that renamed my old Firefox to “Firefox2”. Shocking, isn’t it.
Now, from Terminal, I can run the following:
$ /Applications/Firefox2.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -ProfileManager
You should see something like this:
By default, you’ll probably only have the “default” profile, but you can create a profile dedicated to testing in FF2 which should prevent it from screwing with my FF3 profile (as I’ve noticed can happen). Another side effect is that this lets you run multiple copies (of the different versions) of Firefox at once. Also, un-check the “Don’t ask at startup” box, and you won’t have to run the secondary browsers from the command-line to ensure you get the profile you intended.
For the record, I’ve tested the same thing on Windows XP. While you can install multiple copies/versions of Firefox and use the different profiles the same way, you cannot run both copies at the same time. At least I couldn’t make it work.