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Three easy ways to separate work and play on the same PC

Ian Paul | Aug. 25, 2014
All of us lead double lives these days since we both work and play online. During the day you may be working on a company document in Google Drive, while at night you're kicking back and chatting with friends on Skype.

All of us lead double lives these days since we both work and play online. During the day you may be working on a company document in Google Drive, while at night you're kicking back and chatting with friends on Skype.

Many of us also end up using our personal PCs to work on company projects from home. And that brings up the issue: How can you separate your work and life identities on the same PC?

If you work in a major enterprise, your IT department probably has rules in place to deal with this issue already. But if you work for a smaller company, you may be left to fend for yourself.

If that's the case, here are three suggestions of how you can keep from mixing business with pleasure on the same Windows device.

Different browsers

One of the easiest ways to separate work and play is to just use separate browsers for each task. The best candidates for this kind of activity would be Chrome and Firefox, because both browsers have sync capabilities letting you share browser histories, favorites, bookmarks and open tabs across devices.

The biggest downside to this approach is that you can only have one default browser at a time. Let's say you choose Chrome for your work browser and Firefox for play, with Chrome set as the default.

Later that evening, a friend sends you a link to a great movie on Netflix via Skype. You click the link as you normally do and your work browser opens because it's set as the default. To get around this, right-click links in other apps and then copy and paste them into Firefox.

If juggling two different browser for different purposes doesn't appeal to you another alternative is to create multiple profiles in your default browser. We already took a look at how to create and manage multiple profiles in Chrome. Firefox also supports multiple profiles, but the process is a little more involved. You can find instructions on Mozilla's site.

Multiple Windows user accounts

This option is perhaps the biggest hassle to set-up, but is ultimately easy to use. Take the time to create different user accounts on your Windows PC for your work and personal life.

When it's time to work you can login to the work account with all the defaults and necessary files ready to go. Then, when it's time to kick back, log in to your play account for an all-night Titanfall session.

In Windows 7, you can add a new user account through the Control Panel. For Windows 8.1, open the modern UI Settings app by tapping Windows Logo Key + C to open the Charms bar. Then navigate to Settings>Change PC settings>Accounts>Other Accounts.

 

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