November 19, 2011, 8:53 AM — Google Chrome is rapidly earning my vote as the best Windows Web browser. It’s fast, increasingly versatile, and just plain smart at certain things. For example, Chrome offers a built-in AutoFill feature that’s not available in Internet Explorer and not included with Firefox (though you can add it by way of plug-ins like Autofill Forms).
AutoFill, of course, is the magical tool the automatically populates online forms with your personal data: name, address, phone number, e-mail, and so on. It’s a huge time-saver when you’re faced with, say, a Web shopping cart or site registration. Instead of typing all that same information over and over, you can make it appear instantly with just one click.
Chrome can even store your credit-card number(s) to make online shopping faster still. (Don’t worry: it’s totally encrypted.)
Here’s how to enable and configure AutoFill in Google Chrome:
1. Open Chrome, click the little wrench icon in the upper-right corner, and then choose Options.
2. Click Personal Stuff.
3. Click the checkbox next to Enable Autofill to fill out web forms in a single click.
4. Click Manage Autofill settings, and then Add new street address.
5. Fill out as much of the form as you want, keeping in mind that AutoFill is pretty much an all-or-nothing tool: when you use it, it will insert every piece of information it can into a form’s matching fields. Thus, if you make it a point not to provide your phone number or e-mail address unless absolutely necessary, you might want to leave one or both of those fields blank. Click OK when you’re done.
6. If you want, click Add new credit card and supply that information as well.
One other note: You can add multiple addresses and/or credit cards, then use whichever ones are appropriate for any given form.
When you’re done with all that and you’ve closed out Options, you’re all set. The next time you’re faced with a Web form, just click something like the Name field and you’ll see a drop-down list of AutoFill choices. Mouse over one of them and you’ll see how AutoFill would populate the various matching fields. If you’re happy with the results, just click that option and presto: your form is filled in. (Or is that filled out?)
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.