I’m not sure how it happened, but over time my web browser has accumulated all sorts of bad autocomplete data.
The great promise of autofill is that you can fill out online forms with a single click, but too often I’ve had to go back and correct mistakes autofill made. The phone numbers would come out wrong because the browser tried to add an unnecessary country code. Company information would be filled in for personal transactions. And I always had to choose from several format options for my mailing address.
Worse yet, the autocomplete would sometimes swap my real email address after I had entered a masked email using Abine Blur. So as a workaround, I finally gave up and filed for autocomplete bankruptcy. That is, I looked in my browser settings, cleared all browser form fill data, and then started over from scratch.
If you’ve ever been annoyed by autofill annoyances in Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or other web browsers, I recommend you do the same.
Manage your browser autofill data
Here’s how to clear autocomplete data for each of the major web browsers:
Google Chrome: You can delete addresses one at a time in Settings > Autocomplete > Addresses and more. Or follow the steps below to bulk delete them:
- Go to Settings > Privacy and security > Clear browsing data > Advanced.
- Select “All times”
- Uncheck all fields except “Autofill form data”, then press “Clear data”.
- Re-enter the information from the new form in Settings > Autocomplete.
- Go to Settings > Privacy, search and service
- Select “Choose what to clear” under the “Clear browsing data” heading.
- Choose “All the time” from the dropdown menu.
- Uncheck all options except “Autofill form data” and press “Clear now”.
- Re-enter your details in Settings > Profiles > Personal information.
- Go to Options > Privacy and security > Forms and autofill > Saved addresses
- Manually remove each option.
- Click “Add” to re-enter your data.
Safari: For Mac users, Safari autofill is always associated with your personal information in the Contacts app. To change this information, go to Safari > Preferences > Autofillthen press “Edit” under “Use of information from my contacts”.
In my case, I left the email field blank while re-entering the information for the new form. That way, I can use Abine Blur to generate a forwarding email address while signing up for new services, keeping my real email address private.
How to Manage Auto-Filled Credit Card Information
In addition to auto-filling your name, address, and other personal information, most web browsers can also keep credit card information on file to facilitate the checkout process.
But depending on the browser you use, this information may be exposed to anyone else who has access to your computer. I suggest you take a few minutes to make sure this information is up to date and secure.
Google Chrome: Manage your payment methods at Settings > Autofill > Payment methods, but keep in mind that anyone else using your computer can see any credit card information that isn’t stored in Google Pay. Go to the Google Pay website to set up payments that are stored online instead of locally in the browser.
Microsoft Edge: Go to Settings > Profiles > Payment information. You will need to enter your Windows PIN to view stored cards or make payments.
firefox: look below Preferences > Privacy and Security, then select “Saved Credit Cards” under “Forms & Autofill.” To keep this information safe from other people using your computer, check the “Require Windows/MacOS authentication” box below.
Safari: Go to Safari > Preferences > Autofill and press “Edit” next to “Credit Cards”. You will need to enter your Mac password to view or edit this data.
Browser vs autofill password manager
I started thinking about this whole problem after hearing from a reader who was struggling with the form-filling features in Bitwarden, the password manager we recommend if you’re looking for a free and powerful password manager. While he was happy with Bitwarden’s core password management features, he had trouble getting Bitwarden to correctly fill in other information, such as addresses.
Personally, I’m much happier separating these two functions, with the password manager handling passwords and the browser handling other types of information. In most browsers, I can fill in the personal details through a pop-up window that appears directly above the form. Rather, Bitwarden requires you to click on the extension button, then click on your identity card, which feels slower and clunkier.
That said, password managers can store other types of personal information that your browser can’t, like social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and secondary phone numbers. If you need to fill in that information on a regular basis, it might be worth fiddling with your password manager’s form-filling features. For credit card information, password managers can also fill in the verification code on the back of the card, while browsers avoid storing this information for security reasons.
Setting up these little shortcuts takes some initial effort, which is probably why I ignored my own autocomplete issues for so long. But like any other little annoyance in life, I eventually got tired enough to do something about it. Maybe this story will inspire you to do it too.
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