Tips On Sharing A Computer For The Whole Family With Ease

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

With the increase of Work From Home (WFH) and Online Classes during these pandemic times. MCO has been stressful for all of us, especially for those who don’t have the luxury to provide enough. Before this, laptops and computers at home might not be a need for everyone since its accessible in schools, libraries, offices, and even cyber cafes. But now since we’re all stuck at home, these options are far from choosing, and having at least one computer or laptop at home is indeed a need nowadays especially in a home with school children.

The government and also non-government bodies have also taken initiatives to give out free laptops/tabs to families who cannot afford them which should help ease the parents a bit. But still, there may be a few issues for those with a larger family headcount and all of them need to use the device. This is also troubling because you cannot simply pick which child deserves to use it better. As a parent, our role is to educate and this issue could actually be settled with sharing. All you need is a little trick.

I have come to know this trick for years back since my Uni days and still using this trick until now. The only difference that I’ve been using this way to separate my email profiles which I use for personal, work, family and also shopping. However, I did try this trick with my sisters that are currently sharing a laptop for online classes and schoolwork and this way actually works! They both now are able to work on their timetable using the laptop which results in no more fighting.

note: This tip is suitable for families sharing a laptop but has mobile phones of their own for each family member. However, it could be managed if you only have 2 gadgets. It depends on your creativity.

What did I do? Simple! I set up Chrome Profiles on Google Chrome.

Advantages of Chrome Profile

  1. 1 gmail = 1 User = 1 Window Tab
  2. Switch chrome profiles easily
  3. Chrome features (autofill, bookmarks, passwords, google docs, etc…) could be used seperately
  4. Less hassle
  5. Avoids mix ups of accounts (mail, facebook, online docs, etc…)
  6. Systematic
  7. Could be accessed in any type of device (windows, mac, android, etc…)
  8. Does not intefere with laptop space as everything is stored online.
  9. Give freedom for each user to personalize their own tab & profile
  10. Creates a personal space even if its a shared laptop/computer

How To Set Up Chrome Profile

1. Install Chrome Browser

This feature requires a chrome browser to be installed and used. Besides, it’s called Chrome Profile so of course, it’s a feature from the browser. Chrome profiles can also be used in mobile phones through the Chrome app as well.

2. Create A Gmail Account

I’m unsure if you can sign in to any other type of email accounts but using Gmail does has its perks with Chrome. So I suggest using Gmail, with a Gmail account, you can also access Google features easily such as Google docs, drive, slides, meet & etc. Using these google features from your personal Chrome Profile will create a separate account from each email registered in a window tab, so there would be no mix up of accounts even by sharing one laptop. However, to do so, each user sharing a laptop must sign in to a Chrome Profile.

3. Sign in Chrome Profile

Chrome browser before signing in

Start by signing in Chrome Profile in your Chrome Browser. To sign in, on the top right corner of your browser, click the avatar icon I have circled in the picture and it’ll pop up a window tab to create your Chrome Profile. Just follow the steps instructed to sign in to your Gmail account.

Chrome browser after signing in

When you have successfully signed in, your Chrome browser will look as the image above. The empty avatar image on the top right corner of your tab will change to your own picture (if you changed in google settings). You will also see another picture of you below the one on top. This indicates that your Chrome Profile is signed in with that specific Gmail account.

Don’t get confused with these 2 profiles, both are your own account but what’s different is that the avatar beside your address bar is the chrome profile for that window tab while the avatar in the browser is the google account used in that window tab. There is a difference which you can refer to in the image below.

Image 1, Image 2 , Image 3

Above are 3 different screenshots mashed up in an image, the black lines are the separator.

For Image 1, the left image, I clicked on my avatar beside the address bar (dotted in red) and it pops up a small window with my google details and a whole bunch of other chrome profiles below. This obviously means I’m very dependent on this feature but I’m using this feature to separate my emails not for the purpose to share my laptop. But still, it works both ways and however, you feel like using it. When I need to swtich to a different profile, all I need to do is click the avatar beside by address bar and then choose the profile below I want to use and it’ll pop up a new window tab with that specific profile. So easy! From there I could manage 2 different window tabs with multiple tabs each on them with ease.

Moving on to Image 2, it’s still the same window tab as Image 1 but I clicked on the 2nd avatar which is in the browser. The ones I highlighted in green is google accounts. As you can see, it shows my google details just like my chrome profile but I don’t have any other accounts added below.

So for Image 3, it’s still the same window tab, the difference is that I signed into another Gmail account by clicking ‘Add Another Account’ in Image 2. From there, the current Gmail I’m using for that tab is now a different email, but I’m still using the same Chrome Profile as Image 1, & 2.

Some may find this feature redundant but actually, it does make sense for those who depend on google products a lot like myself. As I mentioned, I’ve been using Chrome Profile to separate my emails, hence because of that, it’s easy for me to separate my google accounts like docs, drive and etc, which all I store different documents and it makes signing in and accessing them easier. However, if you’re sharing a computer, you can also do the same without using Chrome Profiles but by using Google Accounts in the browser. It switches easily just like chrome profile but the difference is that you’ll still be using the same window tab with the same bookmarks, passwords and history for all your emails.

How To Make Sharing A Computer Easy

Now since you know the trick to use for the computer, you’ll need to know the trick in how to apply it in your family.

  1. Make sure each family member has their own Chrome Profile
  2. Set a rule that each family member should respect each other’s profile
  3. Let them sort out their timetable on when they need to use the computer.
  4. Use the computer when necessary (optional)

By creating a Chrome Profile, a shortcut icon will also appear on your computer Homepage indicating the specific Chrome Profile. You’ll see a different avatar for each short cut so you’ll know exactly which one is yours. By clicking it, it’ll automatically direct you to the browser of that specific chrome profile so you won’t accidentally go into someone else browser by mistake.

It’s best that you set a rule for your children by teaching them to respect each others profiles and not sneak in other profiles while their time on the screen. This gives the children a more safe feeling of personal space.

Why do I encourage setting up Chrome Profiles instead of setting up a different user on a computer? Well first, it doesn’t take up computer space and minimise lags for computers with lower specs. Secondly, I find it more secure to know what my children are up to while they are on the web. Their profiles are easily accessed, (no neeed of passwords) so I can check their browsing history and all if I needed to. Of course their Social Media accounts won’t be accessible easily if they log out without saving passwords on Chrome.

Lastly, let your children sort out their timetable to share the computer. You can also suggest which time is for whom and whom until they come to an agreement. If you’re also working from home with the same computer, you’ll also need to adjust your time as well. Let’s say your children are both demanding to use the computer at the same time, one has an online class and the other needs to use Microsoft Word. Change Microsoft to Google and use Google Docs instead, it’s the same thing, the difference is that it’s stored online hence it’ll be auto-synced to your child’s smartphone. Persuade your child to roughly draft on mobile first, then when your other child is settled with their work, he/she can continue editing on the computer. Or it could be the other way round. It’s best to put a time limit for each usage.

This way not only does it help you to be fair but also teaches the children tolerance by sharing. Do not encourage just one child to always give up the spot because they’re older, deep down you’ll never know that it may have hurt and cause bigger problems in the future. Treat each of your children the same and they’ll bloom.

Sharing a computer with ease is possible if you’re smart at adjusting. Using Chrome Profile is a great trick but it won’t work if you don’t manage the fundamentals of sharing. From my experience with my younger sisters, and myself sharing with my husband and also my other sister who shares with her husband, sharing a computer easily is possible. It may take some time to fully adjust but it’ll be worth it.

Surimoden is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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Author: Surimoden

Sharings of a modern housewife