Globe and Keys

Do you get hassled by your browser offering to save passwords?

All major browsers can be configured to save the username and password of your account at the website you have just accessed. That’s all very well if:

  • You don’t use a password manager (such as LastPass) to handle this for you and
  • You trust the browser to keep the information safe

If either of these conditions is untrue then you may prefer your browser to stop being so eager to help. Detailed below are the instructions for configuring the current versions of the major browsers.

One browser will quite happily display all your passwords without asking for any credentials at all. So, anyone accessing your computer can easily see these passwords. And which one is it? Firefox – see below

Firefox logoFirefox

  • Click on Menu option (three horizontal bars at top right)
  • Click on “Options”
  • Click on “Security”
  • Untick “Remember login for sites”
  • Close the “options” tab (or the entire browser)

Note that, before closing Options, you can click on “Saved Logins” and then “Show Passwords” to display all the passwords you’ve asked Firefox to save for you. I can’t imagine why they make this so insecure.

Chrome logoChrome

  • Click on Menu option (three dots at top right)
  • Click on “Settings”
  • Scroll down to “Advanced” and click on it
  • Scroll down further and, under the “passwords and forms” section, click the arrow to the right of “manage passwords” and slide the blue switch left to the “off” position
  • Close the “Settings” tab (or the entire browser)

Note that, a bit further down, there is a section called “Saved Passwords”. If you click the 3 dots to the right of a saved password then you can click on details. In the popup window, you can then click on the “eye” symbol to see the password. It will then ask you for your Windows password. This is the password you use to log on as a Windows user. It won’t accept a pin (even if that’s your normal logon method). I haven’t tested what happens if you sign on to your computer as a local user with no password.

Safari logoSafari (on a Mac)

  • Click on the “Safari” menu option
  • Click on “Preferences”
  • Click on the “passwords” tab
  • Untick “Autofill user names and passwords”
  • Close the passwords window

IE11 - iconInternet Explorer

  • Click on the Settings “cog wheel”
  • Click on “Internet Options”
  • Click on the “Content” tab
  • Click on “Settings” in the AutoComplete section
  • Untick “User names and passwords on forms”
  • Click on “OK” on each of the two open boxes

Note that there is an option “Manage Passwords”. Clicking on this (in Wondows 10, anyway) will open Windows “Web Credentials”. You will need to supply your Windows user password to access the stored passwords.

Edge logoEdge

  • Click on menu (3 horizontal dots)
  • Click on “Settings”
  • Scroll down and click on “View advanced settings”
  • Scroll down and slide the switch leftwards that is next to “offer to save passwords”
  • Click somewhere to the left of the “Settings” menu to close it

I wouldn’t mind so much, but I don’t even USE Internet Explorer normally

Even though Microsoft would prefer us to be using their new browser – Edge – they still include their old browser – Internet Explorer 11 – in Windows 10. Is that because Edge isn’t finished yet? I don’t know, but my concern here is that I had a nasty shock the other day when I realised that I only had 21.2gb free space on drive c: of my reasonably new Dell XPS, and I managed to track the problem down to Internet Explorer being profligate with my storage!

Huh? How come I’ve only got 21.2gb space left on drive c:?

OK, I exaggerate the problem. In fact, I had “partitioned” the drive when it was new and chose to have about 101gb for Windows and programs (on drive c:) and the remaining 361gb for my data (on drive d:). That being the case, I could re-partition it to shuffle things around. Let’s forget that option , though as there are plenty of computers out there now that have a small drive c: (because it’s a solid state drive) and a large hard drive for data. So plenty of people could be genuinely nonplussed at seeing what I saw on my drive c: the other day (without the option of re-partitioning the space).

I recently wrote a blog on SSDs in which I said that you shouldn’t let a SSD (solid state drive) get more than about 75% full as performance will plummet. Assuming that this rule of thumb also applies to partitions of a SSD, I could well expect to see my drive starting to struggle any time soon, so I needed to do something about it.

That’s where a lot of it has gone

Where’s all that space suddenly gone? That is the obvious question I asked myself, so I turned to that invaluable tool Treesize Free to answer just that question. It revealed that a whole 21.5gb had been swallowed by something called INetCache. A quick google revealed that the contents of this folder are files cached by Internet Explorer. Now, anything that is “cached” is, almost by definition, put somewhere temporarily in order to make access to it quicker. After the program that is using it is closed, it’s almost always safe to delete any cached content that has been left behind. But it’s not exactly safe to go around deleting anything at all that is in the Windows folder without knowing the consequences. So, I went back to Mr Google and learned that the way to deal with this situation is as follows:

  • Start Internet Explorer
  • Click on the “Settings” gearwheel (top right of screen)
  • Click on “Internet Options”
  • Click on the “General” tab
  • Under “Browing History”, click on “Settings”
  • Click on the “Caches and databases” tab
  • Remove the tick (by clicking on it) next to “Allow website caches and databases”
  • Close both the dialog windows that are open in Internet Explorer
  • Close Internet Explorer

Untick the box to get the space back and stop it happening again


There are other ways of deleting temporary internet files, but this method prevents Internet Explorer from getting you into the same situation again. I can’t promise what saving this will produce on any other system, but in my own case it doubled my free space to over 40gb, putting my SSD back into the comfortable position of having 40% free space.

Windows 10 users who use Internet Explorer 11 to browse the web are now benefitting from an enhancement to their security

IE11 - iconWho among us hasn’t opened their browser to discover that some scummy software has changed their Home Page and/or search engine? It happens annoyingly often and it can be difficult to find the settings that allow you to change them back.

The reason it happens is quite straight-forward: money. If you can be persuaded to go to web sites that other people want you to go to (as in a Home Page hijacking), or be persuaded to use a particular search engine that wasn’t your choice, then someone is likely to be making money from your browsing as a result of the changes.

IE11 - Settings Icon

Figure 1 – Internet Explorer 11 Settings icon

With its latest browser (“Edge“), Microsoft introduced programming that prevents websites from being able to change your choices in these two respects. Now they have introduced this technology into Internet Explorer 11. From my reading, though, it seems to me that it may only benefit Windows 10 users. These large computer companies do take some curious decisions. I’ve never been sure why they’ve introduced a second browser to compete directly with their existing one. The only reason I can think of is cold feet. They just didn’t dare remove Internet Explorer 11 from Windows 10 computers in case even more users chose to defect to Chrome or Firefox. With this new feature, though, they’ve got something that gave Edge the edge (as it were). It seems a bit odd to me that they would then put it in Internet Explorer as well. Never mind, it’s definitely a benefit.

IE11 - Home Page Selection

Changing the Home Page in Internet Explorer 11

There’s nothing you have to change, or set, in order to benefit from this increased protection. The software is just written in such a way that “outsiders” can’t run software that can make the changes surrepticiously.

This doesn’t, of course, make any difference at all to your own ability to change your Home Page and/or Search Engine.

Just in case you wonder how to do this in IE11 (as we techies call Internet Explorer 11),

Change Home Page in Internet Explorer 11

  • Left-click on the tools button (a cogwheel at the top right of IE11 – see figure 1)
  • Left-click on “Internet Options”
  • Left-click on the “General” tab (if it’s not already selected)
  • In the top box, under “Home page”, type in the address of your desired Home page. It’s actually easier if you go to that page before starting this exercise as you can then click the “Use current” button and it will assign that page as your Home page without typing in the address
  • Close the window with the “X” or “OK” button

Change Search Provider in Internet Explorer 11

  • Left-click on the tools button (a cogwheel at the top right of IE11 – see figure 1)
  • Left-click on “Manage add-ons”
  • Left-click on “Search Providers”
  • If your desired search engine is listed, then click on it and then click on the option near the bottom of the window marked “Set as default”
  • Click the “Close” button
  • If your desired search engine is not listed, then click on the option near the bottom of the window marked “Find more search providers”
  • You will then be shown a ridculously limited list of search providers that you can add. The list does include Google, but not DuckDuckGo
  • Click on the “Add” button next to the search provider you wish to add. Note that it will not appear in the list of search providers until you close and re-open the search provider settings window
  • Re-open the “search providers” window, click on your newly-added search provider and then click the option near the bottom of the window marked “Set as default”
  • Click the “Close” button
IE1 - 1Manage Add-Ons

Changing the Search Provider in “Manage Add-ons”

By the way, if you are wondering about the infantile smiley icon near the settings icon (see Figure 1) – no, you can’t remove it.

© 2011-2017 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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