Firefox and Chrome record what users type in the address bar, search bar, and in web forms to a local database of autocomplete entries by default.
When a user uses the same form field or browser element again at a later point in time and starts to type characters that match saved records, suggestions are displayed to speed up the process.
All it takes is to activate one of the suggestions, by mouse, touch or keyboard to load it; this speeds up the process since you don’t have to type the whole word, phrase or character set anymore.
Tip: if you just want to delete autocomplete entries from Firefox’s or Chromes address bar, check out this guide for details.
Removing autocomplete suggestions
It happens, however, that you encounter suggestions that are not useful anymore. Maybe you miss-typed a word or phrase and it appears all the time in the list of suggestions. Or you used a phrase in the past but don’t have any use for it anymore.
You may have tried to remove these entries in the past, for instance by right-clicking on them or looking through the provided settings to find management interfaces.
Problem is, no browser displays a list of all autocomplete entries in its interface and it may not be obvious how to delete individual entries either as the browser’s don’t provide tips or suggestions on how to do so.
Note: The following guide focuses on Firefox and Google Chrome. The method described in the article should work in Firefox or Chromium-based browsers such as Pale Moon, Waterfox, Vivaldi, or Opera as well.
You have two options to deal with the issue:
- Delete suggestions individually.
- Clear browsing data and make sure form data is included when you purge it.
Delete Suggestions individually
All you need to do to delete individual suggestions from Firefox’s or Chrome’s address bar, search bar, or other form fields displayed on sites open in the browsers is the following
- Use the up and down keys on the keyboard to mark the entry that you want to delete.
- Hit the Delete-key on your keyboard. If Delete does not work, use Shift-Delete instead.
- Use the up and down arrow keys to select an autocomplete suggestion.
- Use Shift-Delete to remove it from Chrome’s memory.
Note that you can activate form fields without typing anything by activating the field and pressing the Down-key on the keyboard.
The Page Up and Page Down keys should work as well to browse the selection of autocomplete entries.
I suggest you verify that entries have indeed been removed by repeating the steps.
Clear the Form History
If you clear the form history anything that you entered in the past is removed. You start again with an empty database that will get filled as you use the Web.
- Load about:preferences#privacy in the browser’s address bar.
- Select the Clear History button on the page.
- Make sure “Form & Search History is checked”. Make sure you uncheck other entries other data sets that you don’t want deleted.
- Verify that the “time range to clear” is set to everything.
- Click on the Clear Now button.
- Load chrome://settings/clearBrowserData in the browser’s address bar.
- Switch to the Advanced tab.
- Make sure Autofill form data is checked. Make sure data that you don’t want deleted is unchecked.
- Click on Clear Data to remove it.
Blocking the form history
Web browsers include options to block the recording of form entries that you type. Some Internet users may prefer to disable the recording entirely in the browser of choice:
- Load about:preferences#privacy in the Firefox address bar.
- Scroll down to History.
- Set the History option to “Use custom setting for”.
- Remove the checkmark from “Remember search and form history”.
- Load chrome://settings/autofill in the browser’s address bar.
- Toggle the Autofill forms option on the page so that the entry is displayed in gray (inactive).
Suggestions that web browsers display in the address bar, search forms, and other form fields can be useful as they may speed up the process of repeating certain actions without having to type the whole request manually each time.
Options to delete unused form records older than 30 days or so would be useful in my opinion as it would remove older entries from the database which most likely are not needed anymore.
Now You: How do you handle autofill in your browser?
- Configure Firefox to accept third-party cookies for the session only
- How to clear site-specific cookies in Google Chrome quickly
- How to clear Web Storage in your browser of choice
- Why you may want to clear the Firefox cache from time to time
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