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autofill

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Autofill, also called autocomplete, is a software feature that automatically inserts previously-entered personal information into web form fields for the user’s convenience. Autofill is often used by browsers, word processors and password managers to reduce the effort required to provide information that is frequently requested. Autofill is typically saved locally on the computing device it is used on. Popular fields of information completed by autofill include name, date of birth, age, address, credit card or banking information.

Autofill often organizes previously submitted content based on the field where users would begin entering information, such as a person’s name or organization. For example, if entering shipping information for an online purchase, the user can begin entering a name and the associated information will populate the remaining fields automatically, including a street address, town, state and zip code. 

As with many convenience features, there is a security risk inherent in the use of autofill. For example, a known hack employs hidden text boxes after the name field that can be made to autofill almost any data a user has previously entered. Most browsers allow users to disable the autofill feature to avoid such vulnerabilities.

This was last updated in January 2019

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