Web browsers have changed significantly over the years, with a constant accumulation of new features and functionality as each new generation arrives. At the same time, many of us spend an increasing amount of our personal and professional lives online, which means automation and adaptive features are always in demand.
What are the drawbacks to autofill?
A tool like autofill is generally regarded as an incredibly useful addition to the standard browser suite because it helps save time and trouble when you don’t want to type the same thing over and over.
But there are times when autofill can become a bit of a headache, popping up when you don’t need it or getting in the way of what you may actually be trying to do. The busier you are, the more likely it is that you’ve run into these types of problems.
Your risk only goes up when you have to use a different address for certain purchases, accidentally confuse one form with another, or let a coworker or loved one use your computer to do some important online paperwork.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to clear autofill in Chrome and manage your settings directly. In this article, we’ll give you two easy methods you can use to quickly delete entries, reset the tool, or turn off autofill completely. Before we do, let’s get started with a brief introduction on the basics of autofill and how it works in Google Chrome
What is autofill and how does it work?
Autofill remembers and fills in specific information and form fields as part of the web browser on your computer. In a perfect world, autofill should save time in a variety of situations, and in most cases, that’s exactly how it works.
Autofill is great when you need to fill out an address for online shopping or filing paperwork. It’s also useful when you’re frequently searching for similar things, and when you want to save non-sensitive login or payment information.
Without systems like autofill and predictive text, your life online can slow down a lot more than you’d expect. Mobile platforms like your smartphone or tablet would also become substantially less usable because they would force you to repeatedly input information into their cramped and somewhat tedious interfaces.
All the more reason why it’s important to understand the ins and outs of your Chrome autofill settings. And why you should be able to delete incorrect information so the right entries are easier to access.
How to manage your full autofill features with Chrome
To make sure your settings aren’t causing you unnecessary trouble, we’ll start by highlighting the two quickest methods for getting rid of unwanted autofill entries. Both methods may appear the same, but they give you two ways to gain access and manage your information.
Use the first method if you only want to delete autofill Chrome entries or some combination of accumulated browser data. This is great for when you want to clear out your browser’s saved autofill entries and then get back to work as fast as possible.
If you have a little extra time or want more control over how you manage your settings, you can also access them using the complete autofill interface under your main Chrome settings. This method allows you to visualize more of your options for both autofill and your browser’s overall data settings.
1. Delete ALL autofill entries directly via Chrome settings in your toolbar
This is your quick method for clearing saved autofill entries in particular or in combination with other browser data. As opposed to your own unique arrangement of bookmarks and app icons, the Chrome browser interface is consistent from user to user.
- Open your Chrome browser
- Look to the top right corner of your browser and click the three dot symbol just below the close option. If you’re having trouble finding the symbol, it should be located next to your Chrome profile picture and to the far right of the search bar where you can type in search terms and web addresses
- Hover over the More tools… option until the dropdown appears
- Select Clear browsing data… from the dropdown. You can also skip steps 2 and 3 by using a keyboard shortcut (Control + Shift + Delete) from within your Chrome browser. This should load your Chrome Settings in a new tab, with several Basic options ready for use
- Click the Advanced tab from the new window. This will load a more detailed list that includes a comprehensive autofill removal option
- Check the box next to Autofill form data. Below this option, you should see a brief summary of what will be deleted. If you don’t want to delete anything else, adjust the selections to your preference
- Click the Clear data button near the lower right corner
Once that’s done, your Chrome autofill settings should be cleared. That means your problem is gone, but you may have to re-enter a lot of your routine autofill entries. If you want to avoid that, the next method gives you some extra leeway. Using it, you can get rid of what you don’t need while preserving the parts of your autofill data that you’d like to keep.
2. Access the autofill tab under Chrome settings to delete SOME autofill entries
This method guides you through your standard Chrome settings menu so that you can choose between individually managing your autofill categories or deleting everything at once.
- Open your Chrome browser
- Look for the three dot symbol to find a complete list of options to navigate. This menu icon is located to the far right of the search bar and just below the browser’s close button
- Click the Settings option from the dropdown to open a new window with all of your Google Chrome settings options
- Either click the Autofill tab on the left sidebar or navigate to the Autofill heading directly in the main feed. You should see three options
- You can individually edit or delete different autofill categories: passwords, payment methods, or addresses and more
- If you want to delete everything in one go, scroll past the Autofill section and click on the Advanced tab at the bottom of the page.
- Scroll down to Privacy and security, which should be the first new category available under Advanced settings options. You can also select it from the left sidebar
- At the bottom of Privacy and security, you should see Clear browser data. This will load the same interface described above
- Click the Advanced tab from the new window
- Check the box next to Autofill form data
- Click the Clear data button near the lower right corner
How you delete all your autofill data is essentially the same, but this method gives you the option to micromanage your autofill setup. It may add a few steps to your routine, but you’ll be less likely to encounter unexpected issues down the line.
How to make specific changes to what Autofill saves
Do you want to turn off autofill altogether? You have that option from the Chrome Settings menu as well. Since our second method provides access to the full suite of settings options, we’ll also discuss each of the three categories that make up the Google Chrome autofill feature. Within each category you’ll find a convenient toggle to turn off autofill for that category. They are as follows:
To turn this feature off, look for the words “Offer to save passwords” and set the toggle to the off position. Look for “Auto sign-in” to turn off storage of your saved login credentials. To manage saved entries individually, you can find a complete index of saved passwords below your saved password and sign-in options.
2. Payment methods
If you want to turn off this feature, look for the words “Save and fill payment methods” and set the toggle to the off position. Below this, you’ll find a link to your Google account’s saved payment information, which is where you can manage your account, and an index of different payment methods.
3. Addresses and more
This category is a catchall for location autofill entries related to your physical and digital contact information, including your email address, billing addresses, and shipping locations. To turn this off, look for “Save and fill addresses” and set the toggle to the off position. Below this, you’ll find a complete list of address information saved by your browser.
Other data settings to keep in mind
To clear your saved autofill entries en masse, use the “Clear browser data” option. As part of this process, your browser prompt already includes several categories of saved information checked off for deletion. Most of your browser data isn’t worth worrying about, but here’s a quick guide to what you’re deleting if you leave these categories checked when you clear out auto fill entries.
1. Browsing history
This encompasses a basic record of your browsing, but it also includes some additional information beyond a list of websites. It provides a rundown of your saved auto-complete entries, which is the predictive text that helps finish familiar URLs in the Chrome search bar.
If your issue stems from auto-complete issues, the most direct solution is to delete your browsing history through the Clear browsing data procedure.
2. Cookies and other site data
Under this category, your browser accumulates the credentials that allow you to freely navigate your most frequently visited websites. If you include this option when you clear browsing data, you’ll be logged out of most of the services and websites that you have used to date. To avoid that, simply uncheck the corresponding box and move on.
3. Cached images and files
Here you’ll find saved images and site resources that your browser archives to more quickly load websites. You can clear a pretty big chunk of space out if you leave this category checked, but you may notice a slight slowdown the next time you visit one of your favorite sites.
4. Advanced settings
From the Clear browsing data window, you can also switch between Basic and Advanced options. Under the Advanced heading you’ll find a more detailed breakdown of options, including a pre-selected field for download history. In these expanded options you can turn off autofill form data, in addition to passwords and sign-in data, site settings, and hosted app data.
Reasons why autofill may not be working correctly
Some usage situations may present their own unique obstacles, but most problems with autofill are relatively easy to understand. For example, there’s always a risk of confusion or small input mistakes when you let a friend or family member use your computer to fill out a form for online paperwork or to make a purchase. You run the same risk when any user adds a new app to their loadout or a new website to their routine.
To combat these issues, it helps to periodically clear out your autofill log. This guarantees that you won’t stumble over redundant information or accidentally ship a gift to the wrong address. But if you find yourself having constant issues, it can also be helpful to manage your autofill settings directly and to periodically check in on each category in your Chrome settings.
If you need extra support with Chrome
If you think you may be dealing with something different or bigger, don’t hesitate to look for help at the main Google Chrome Help
page or through your IT support team (either in your workplace or via your internet service provider).
The most important things to remember about autofill
When you have difficulty getting autofill to work correctly, it’s important to remember that you can easily control this feature in a variety of ways. The choice is yours whether or not to turn off autofill altogether, shuffle things around on a category basis, or even to just clear out your saved entries periodically.
About the Author
Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.