I don’t know how it happened, but over time my web browser accumulated all kinds of bad autofill data.
The great promise of autofill is that you can fill out online forms with just one click, but too many times I’ve had to go back and correct the mistakes that autofill made. The phone numbers would be wrong because the browser was trying to add an unnecessary country code. Company information would be filled in for personal transactions. And I always had to choose between several formatting options for my mailing address.
Even worse, the autofill sometimes swapped out my real email address after I had already entered a masked email using Abine Blur. So as a solution, I finally gave up and declared bankruptcy with autofill. That is, I dug into my browser settings, cleared all form fill data from the browser, and then started all over again.
If you’ve ever been vexed by autofill annoyances in Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or other web browsers, I highly recommend you do the same.
Manage your browser’s autofill data
Here’s how to clear autofill data for every major web browser:
Google Chrome: You can delete addresses one by one under Settings > Autofill > Addresses and more. You can also follow the steps below to bulk erase them:
Head toward Settings > Privacy and security > Clear browsing data > Advanced.
Select “All time”
Uncheck all fields except “AutoFill Form Data”, then click “Clear Data”.
Enter the form information again under Settings > Autofill.
Head toward Settings > Privacy, Search & Service
Select “Choose what to clear” under the “Clear browsing data” heading.
Choose “All the time” from the drop-down menu.
Uncheck all options except “Autofill form data” and click “Clear Now”.
Enter your data again under Settings > Profiles > Personal Information.
Head toward Options > Privacy and security > Forms and autofill > Saved addresses
Manually remove each option.
Press “Add” to re-enter your data.
Safari: For Mac users, Safari AutoFill is always associated with your personal information in the Contacts app. To modify this information, go to Safari > Preferences > Autofillthen tap “Edit” under “Use information from my contacts”.
In my case, I left the email field blank while re-entering the new form information. This way I can use Abine Blur to generate a forwarding email address when 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 payments.
But depending on the browser you use, this information may be exposed to anyone else who has access to your computer. I suggest taking a few minutes to make sure this information is up to date and secure.
Google Chrome: Manage your payment methods under Settings > Autofill > Payment Methods, but note that anyone else using your computer can see any credit card information that isn’t stored with Google Pay. Visit the Google Pay website to set up payments which are stored online rather than locally in the browser.
Microsoft Edge: Head toward Settings > Profiles > Payment Information. You will need to enter your Windows PIN to view stored cards or make payments.
Firefox: look under Preferences > Privacy & Security, then select “Stored Credit Cards” under “Forms & Autofill.” To protect this information from other users of your computer, check the “Require Windows/MacOS authentication” box below.
Safari: Head toward Safari > Preferences > Autofill and tap “Edit” next to “Credit Cards”. You will need to enter your Mac password to view or edit this data.
Browser vs password manager for autofill
I started thinking about this whole issue after hearing from a reader who was struggling with the form-filling features in Bitwarden, the password manager we recommended if you’re looking for a powerful free password manager. . While he was happy with Bitwarden’s core password management features, he struggled to get Bitwarden to fill in other information, such as addresses, correctly.
Personally, I’m much happier to separate these two functions, with the password manager handling passwords and the browser handling other types of information. In most browsers, I can fill in personal information through a popup that appears directly above the form. In contrast, Bitwarden requires you to click the extend button and then click your ID, which feels slower and clumsier.
Jared Newman / Foundry
That said, password managers can store other kinds of personal information that your browser can’t, such as social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and secondary phone numbers. If you need to fill in this information regularly, it might be worth tackling the form-filling features of your password manager. 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 purposes.
Setting up these little shortcuts takes some upfront effort, which is probably why I ignored my own autofill issues for so long. But like all the other little annoyances in life, I eventually had enough to do something about. Perhaps this story will inspire you to do so as well.
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