Two Ways to Force Firefox to Remember Passwords

Some well-meaning web UI designers will specify that login and password fields are not to be remembered, by setting the autocomplete attribute to ‘off’.  When autocomplete is ‘on’ a good browser like Firefox can remember your login and password for you and keep them in an encrypted list of passwords that you unencrypt with a master password.  The trouble, I suppose, is that it’s not mandatory to encrypt the password list, so uninformed users may leave themsleves open to an attack which the “autocomplete off” sites try to prevent.  But I’m not an uninformed user and want Firefox to remember all my passwords for me, whether the site designers like it or not.

Enter greasemonkey.  With the greasemonkey extension to Firefox, you can “fix” broken web pages by applying changes to the DOM (Document Object Model) via little Javascript commands.  Greasemonkey can support many sub-scripts, and the one I chose to get around M&T Bank’s broken login page is simply called Allow Password Remembering.  It’s straightforward – find anything under a form that has an ‘autocomplete’ element, and change its value to ‘on’.  However, this wasn’t enough for Highmark Blueshield’s site, possibly because greasemonkey isn’t the last thing that runs to alter the page’s contents.

Enter DOM Inspector.  Thanks to Jason May for introducing me to DOM Inspector, which allows you to view and edit a webpage live.  No it isn’t magical and can’t push changes back to the server, but you do affect the way the page behaves for you, at least temporarily.  So I went to Highmark’s login page and opened up DOM Inspector (Tools -> DOM Inspector).  Searching for the ‘form’ tag narrowed the search down to the login form, and after some manual looking around, I found the ‘autocomplete’ attributes for the userid field and the password field, and I changed them both to ‘on’.  When I logged in, Firefox dutifully asked me if I wanted to remember the password.  The best part is that revisiting the page in its natural state still allows Firefox to use the saved password.  (Apparently, Firefox will offer a saved password no matter what the ‘autocomplete’ field says; it just won’t offer to remember it if it’s ‘off’.)

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