How to Switch Between Google Chrome Browser Channels in Windows

All the mainstream web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera are developed in various stages and you can use the browsers from any of these stages or channels. For example, the Firefox browsers are available in Nightly, Beta and Release versions. Similarly, the Google Chrome web browser is available from four channels – canary, dev, beta, stable. Usually when you download and install the Chrome browser, it is the stable version. Although available mainly for developers and beta-testers, the dev, canary and beta versions can also be installed to check out what new features are being added in the Chrome browser.

If you want to check out the dev, canary or beta versions of the Chrome browser, you should take proper precautions so as not to loose your current Chrome user profile. If you lose it, then all your stored passwords and bookmarks will also be gone. You can follow these simple steps to makes sure that you do not lose your Chrome profile:

  1. First of all make a backup of your current Google profile. To do this, close all the running instances of the Chrome browser. Then type Win+R to open the Run dialog. In the Run dialog, type the following and press Enter:
    %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User DataSwitch Chrome Browser Channels
  2. You will find a folder named Default, create a backup of this folder. You can just rename it to something else or copy it another folder somewhere on your hard disk.Switch Chrome Browser Channels
  3. After this you can visit and download the setup file for any of the Chrome channels from the links given under Windows section and install them on your computer.Switch Chrome Browser Channels
  4. Chrome for all the channels except the Canary channel uses the same location for storing the user profile, so after switching to another channel you can restore the user profile files from the backup that you created in the step 2 above.
  5. After installation of the Chrome browser from a new channel, you can verify the new channel by typing about:chrome in the address bar and pressing Enter.Switch Chrome Browser Channels

So this is the safe way of trying out various new features that the canary, beta and dev channels of the Chrome browser have to offer. Out of all the four channels, only the canary channel version of Chrome uses a separate user profile which makes it ideal to run in parallel with the stable version. Perhaps this is why the canary version also has a completely different icon as well.