Filling out forms online is something we all do. Whether it’s checking out our purchase on an online store, signing up for the online store, logging into an online store or adding new information to the online store. Obviously we fill out forms on websites other than online stores, but I wanted to keep the trend going. Seriously though, there isn’t one of you who hasn’t ever had to fill out an online form and likely even the person who has filled out the fewest has filled out their fair share.
It takes so long doesn’t it? There’s good news though, in fact, I feel it’s great news. There are tools that you can use to automatically fill in these forms. Perhaps you’ve even heard of some of them, but likely you haven’t heard of all of them.
What Does It Mean To “Autofill” Online Forms?
It simply means that a program of some kind automatically detects the presence of a form on a webpage and fills in the information you have previously given it. It is important to use a program and service which is reputable as your information can be sensitive. Of course, it is up to you what you give it, but obviously the more information you provide, the more it can fill in for you.
Some examples of this might be your name, email, home address, credit card information, etc.
But Would I Really NEED Or Use It That Much?
Of course it all depends on your own habits, but my first inclination is that most people would. We all have online accounts of some sort and the two big ones would be for a webmail service and social network (e.g. Facebook).
So let’s say you have just those two. that means that every time you log into them, you have to manually type your passwords. With an autofill application, it would detect the fields and enter the log in credentials for you. All you would need to do is click log in (but some applications even do that for you too).
Where does this really come in handy? When you are connecting an account such as Facebook, Twitter or Google to another website to either use an application or sign in through a service. This makes this process even quicker. And if you’re like me where at times you connect several sites together at a time, this can save quite a bit of time instead of having to type in password and username after password and username.
Third-Party Programs & Browser Extensions
First, let’s start with programs and browser extensions which offer the ability to autofill online forms, then we’ll move on to ways to do it within your browser. I’ve chosen some common ones and also found some not-so-common, but growing tools which have great potential.
RoboForm is a pretty well-known product that works on virtually all platforms.
There are several kinds of services it offers – its most popular one being RoboForm Everywhere. Although RoboForm can be free, to receive the full benefit of having your information synced across and accessible from all your devices, one of the premium plans is needed.
RoboForm isn’t just an form autofilling program, but it also can manage your passwords. It has been covered well on MakeUseOf and I encourage you to check out that article to find out the details of the service.
RoboForm offers an easy-to-follow tutorial for form filling specifically. Here’s a video which covers not only its form filling capabilities, but the other features it offers as well.
LastPass is similar to RoboForm in many of its services – it is a password manager as well as an application which can detect and autofill forms. It too has premium options along with being free. However in my findings it offers more value. With LastPass, you can access your information on all devices. However it doesn’t charge you a monthly fee to save your information to the cloud to access everywhere, like RoboForm does. You can log in from any computer and access your passwords from the online vault.
That said, there is a premium package which offers additional services and features. Also, to use LastPass on most mobile devices such as Android, the iPhone and many others, you do need to pay.
Both RoboForm and LastPass are very reasonably priced and it mostly depends on what works best for you. Personally, I use LastPass, but seeing that I currently don’t own a smartphone, I haven’t worried yet about paying for the service. I imagine I will though eventually.
LastPass has been mentioned quite extensively on MakeUseOf to say the least. Most recently an article has been written about LastPass for Firefox, but like I previously stated, LastPass works for all platforms and all of the popular browsers.
Here’s a brief video featuring LastPass’s form filling capabilities, but there are several more helpful video tutorials to help explain all that LastPass can do.
Prior to researching this topic, I hadn’t heard of Dashlane, but I have found it quite useful. Like LastPass and RoboForm, it too is a password manager, secure note saver, online form filler, as well as other things. One thing it does is specialize in speeding up your online shopping checkout process, which autofilling applications already assist with, but Dashlane seems to go a little extra.
However, I will let our excellent article explain all the details of the program and service.
A close alternative to the Firefox version of Autofill Forms is Autofill in Chrome. It is quite simple, but at the same time has several options. This allows it to be easy to use without losing the necessary features which allow you to remain productive.
The one drawback is that there is no cloud sync, so to my knowledge the extension information is saved within the extension or browser itself. This could pose a potential problem if you were to clear your browser settings. However, there is an import/export feature, so as long as you are regularly exporting your most recent information, you should always have a backup in case something were to happen.
In-Browser Autofill Settings
Setting your browser to remember your personal information can be a security vulnerability. And many, including the website Lifehacker, commonly discourages doing it. At the same time, however, browsers are becoming more and more secure and trusted and if you want to avoid using an additional extension or service, you might prefer to set it up within your browser.
Windows provides a quick and easy tutorial to set up form filling in Internet Explorer. Simply go to Tools, click Internet Options, then select the Content tab. The second section to the bottom you’ll see AutoComplete. Click Settings and check the boxes which you wish to use AutoComplete for.
Google Chrome Autofill
This is completely different than the Autofill extension mentioned earlier. In Google Chrome, click the wrench in the upper right corner of your browser to access the settings. Click Settings and then scroll down the page and click the link “Show advanced settings…” Scroll down until you see the Passwords and Forms section. Click the checkbox by “Enable Autofill to fill out web forms in a single click“. To add information click “Manage Autofill settings“.
You’ll then be able to enter your personal information such as name, address, phone number and email, along with your credit card information.
If you happen to need any additional help, Google provides more information on Autofill.
To set this up in Firefox, go to Options, then Privacy. Under History, click the dropdown menu and select “Use custom settings for history.” Uncheck the box “Always use private browsing mode” and then make sure the box “Remember search and form history” is checked. And that is it. Firefox will begin to remember the information you input.
In Safari, autofilling is enabled on default. Simply go to the “Options gear” in the top right corner, click Preferences and then AutoFill.
Check the boxes you want, then click edit by “Using info from my Address Book card.” Click through the tabs, adding the information you wish to save. Once you have entered it all, you’re good to go!
Setting up autofill in Opera is just as easy as the other browsers. Click the large Opera button in the top left corner, hover over Settings then click Preferences. Click the Forms tab and information. You’re done!
Now If There Was Only An Autofill Tool To Do Our Tax Forms…
Autofilling forms is an excellent way to save time online. Personally, I would recommend checking out RoboForm, LastPass and/or Dashlane. To me, they seem like the best. But that is my opinion. Certainly browsers offer excellent options as well.
What are your thoughts on using your browser to fill forms over programs like LastPass? Does it offer any advantage that I missed in the article? Do you currently use any of these tools? We’d love to hear about your experiences!