Set Google Picture as your Chrome Avatar

Learn how to set your Google profile picture as your Chrome avatar

Using chrome://flags we can enable 2 settings to enable you to set your google picture as your chrome avatar.

Google Chrome users have long been able to create user accounts, providing family members or coworkers with their own profile where they can save and sync their open tabs, settings, bookmarks and more.  Here at Vestra Interactive, we use Chrome profiles for each client, so that all their site-specific stuff and bookmarks needed for their account are all in one place.  As you can imagine, some of our developers have rather large lists of user accounts in Chrome.

Chrome avatars
Default Chrome avatars. Note the limited selection.


One limitation of the Chrome user accounts system are the avatars.  When you set up a new account in Chrome, you are asked to choose a graphic to represent that account.  Unfortunately, these are very generic, and are limited to about 20 or so icons, many of which are just variations on the same.  However, buried deep within Chrome’s hidden settings lies 2 settings that make life tremendously easier for multi-user Chrome setups:

  • Enable new profile management system
  • Enable Google profile name and icon

To enable these two settings, simply type in the omnibox chrome://flags.  You will see a page full of settings.  We don’t recommend changing any of these unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing.  Some of these can make the rest of your day, shall we say, interesting.  Once at the settings page, press CTRL+F to bring up the find box.  You will see it in the upper right corner of the browser.  Type in (or copy and paste) the two names above and simply click ENABLE on each one.

Chrome Flags
Simply enable the two settings above to get a great new multi-user experience


Once enabled, simply restart Chrome and you will see some changes right off the bat.  Previously, your profiles were located on the top left of the browser window.  Clicking your avatar would drop down a list of all the other accounts Chrome knows about.

Multiple Signings in Chrome
The old user switcher in Chrome


Now, all the avatars and users are located in a dropdown with the name of the current user on the top right of the browser, next to the window size and close buttons.

The name of the current user is displayed in a dropdown in the top right corner of the browser screen


Clicking on the dropdown shows a list of all the accounts (with their Google account pictures).  Clicking one will open a new window with that users preferences, bookmarks, etc available for them.

Please keep in mind that these are experimental features and while they should work fine, they may cause an issue.  One of our developers has an issue where the profile pictures work fine, but don’t show up in the avatar selection pane.  Also, these features are prone to change with very little notice.  During the course of writing this article, we noticed the Canary build’s user switcher is slightly different, but it does allow you to lock down Chrome so nobody can see your stuff while logged into theirs  — a welcome addition to those of us who have lots of users on the same machine or who use the PC as a media center.

  • Erik

    Hate to break it to you, but this feature (at least for me so far) breaks Google and related sites (including, but not limited to Youtube) from keeping you logged in. Youtube, especially. With it on, it is CONTINUALLY signing me out – on the same browser session xD Google too. I even had to go through this whole loop to re-verify my phone number as account recovery/Google+ SMS posting! Once I turned it off, bam; it was like the problem was never there.
    This may be because of the recent SSL “heartbleed” exploit patch Google quickly pushed through in Chrome 34. =