How to Store Passwords in Your Internet Browser

By John R. Levine, Margaret Levine Young

Many websites on the internet ask you to enter a username and password. If you’re buying an item from an online store such as Amazon, you create an account with a username and password that you enter every time you want to buy something. Amazon.com remembers your name, address, and credit card information as part of your account, so you don’t need to enter it every time. After you use the web for a while, you pile up a heap of usernames and passwords.

Browsers offer to remember your usernames and passwords for you. Using this feature can be dangerous if other people use your computer or if you use a computer in a public place, such as a library or an Internet café. But if you’re the only person who uses your computer, you may want to let your browser do the work of remembering some, if not all, of your usernames and passwords.

When a web page asks for a username and password, your browser may pop up a little window that offers to remember the username and password you enter, or the question may appear just above the top edge of the web page. If you click Yes, the next time you arrive at the same page, your browser may fill in your username and password for you.

Depending on who else has access to your computer, you might let your browser remember only passwords to accounts that don’t involve spending money or revealing personal information. Unless your computer is in a physically secure place, don’t let your browser remember passwords that have any real power.

Storing passwords in Firefox

You can control whether and how your browser stores these passwords. In Firefox, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Menu icon, then select Options.

    You see the Options dialog box, with a list of the categories of options across the top. On a Mac, choose Firefox→Preferences.

  2. Click the Security icon and look in the Passwords section.

  3. Set the Remember Passwords for Sites check box.

    Click the box to clear the check mark if you want to turn off this feature (or click the box again to turn it back on).

  4. If you want to see the list of usernames that Firefox has saved, click the Saved Passwords button.

    You can review or delete usernames that Firefox is remembering for you. You can even see the passwords by clicking the Show Password button. (And so can anyone else with access to your computer!) Click Close when you’re done.

  5. Select the Use a Master Password check box to set a master password that you need to type only once, at the beginning of every Firefox session.

    This option reduces the number of passwords you need to remember while maintaining some security. Don’t forget the master password.

  6. Click OK to close the Options dialog box.

Storing passwords in Internet Explorer

In Internet Explorer, remembering usernames and passwords is the job of the AutoComplete feature, which you set up by following these simple steps:

  1. Click the Tools icon, choose Internet Options, and click the Content tab.

    You see the Content tab in the Internet Options dialog box.

  2. In the AutoComplete section, click the Settings button.

    You see the AutoComplete Settings dialog box.

  3. Select the check boxes to control which kinds of entries Internet Explorer stores.

    IE doesn’t show you a list of the passwords you saved, but you can turn the feature on and off by selecting the Ask Me Before Saving Passwords check box. The User Names and Passwords On Forms check box controls whether Internet Explorer fills in your stored passwords on forms.

  4. Click OK to close the AutoComplete Settings dialog box, and click OK again to close the Internet Options dialog box.

Storing passwords in Chrome

The Chrome settings for remembering passwords are more like those in Firefox. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Menu three-line icon and choose Settings from the menu that appears.

    You see the Settings page on a new tab.

  2. Click Show advanced settings at the bottom, then scroll down to Passwords and Forms.

  3. In the Passwords section, check or uncheck Offer to save your web passwords.

    It’s your choice, depending on whether you trust the other people who use your computer.

  4. If you want to review the passwords that Chrome has already saved, click Manage Passwords.

    You see web addresses and the usernames, and you can remove any you don’t want saved by clicking the X to its right. To display a password, click the dots that represent it and click Show. Click Close when you’re done.

  5. Click Close.

Storing passwords in Safari

Same old, same old — Safari works similarly to other browsers. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Setting icon and choose Preferences or choose Safari→Preferences.

  2. Click the AutoFill icon.

    These settings control which personal information Safari stores and then supplies on web page forms.

  3. Click the User Names and Passwords check box if you want Safari to remember these items.

  4. To see and edit the usernames and passwords that Safari has stored, click the Edit button to the right of the User Names and Passwords check box.

  5. Click the Close button in the upper-right corner of the window.