Move Google Chrome profiles to a new computer

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Before I discovered the value of Chrome profiles, or “People” in Chrome nomenclature, I would open an Incognito tab to manage a client’s Office 365 environment. However, the saved credentials would be lost upon closing the Incognito browser window, which means we’d have to log in and supply the MFA code again. Worse, I couldn’t manage multiple clients’ Office 365 environments at the same time!

By creating a Chrome profile for each client, we can manage all of our clients’ environments simultaneously, and we retain our authentication session if we close the browser window!

Unfortunately, Chrome People aren’t synchronized with one’s Google Account, so you have to manually move them if you get a new computer.

You’ll find many sites showing you where the profile data is stored on disk, but moving the folders alone is insufficient. The secret ingredient is to bring over the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs registry key.

Here’s everything you need to do:

  1. On the computer that has the Chrome profiles that you want to retain:
    1. Copy the “User Data” folder found in this path to portable media: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\
    2. Export this registry key to the same portable media: [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs]
  2. Move the portable media to your new computer.
  3. On the computer that you want to move the Chrome profiles to:
    1. Make sure all Chrome browser windows are closed and chrome.exe is not running
    2. Copy the “User Data” folder from your portable media to C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\
    3. Double-click the registry key that you saved to portable media in step 2
    4. Open Chrome, and you’ll find your profiles are present!