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What is the Autofill Function?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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An autofill function may be one of the features offered by your web browser, or if you don’t have this capability with your browser, you can download numerous plug-ins that will help you get the autofill function. Essentially, autofill provides greater ease in filling out Internet forms for the purpose of registration to certain groups, or in the case of things like filling out shipping or billing information when you purchase something online. Another kind of autofill function may be available on word processing programs, office programs like Excel® and on stand-alone word processing machines like the Alphasmart®.

You can enable or disable an autofill function on most web browsers, and it can prove helpful if you regularly join new groups or fill out forms. It will automatically insert things like first and last name, address, email address, telephone number, birthdates, and a few other details required by forms. These plug-ins or features tend not to work with pull-down menus. Even if you use this option, you still may need to go over the form to add things like your state or country of residence, and sometimes dates like your birth date. Occasionally autofill will also add credit card information, which you may want to be careful about. If you use more than one card for shopping, check any filled out numbers to be certain these conform to the card you would like to use.

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You also should be careful about using the autofill function if your computer is accessible by a large number of people, especially if your credit card information gets filled in automatically. Even the innocent act of sharing your computer with a few family members can mean you fill in the wrong information when you’re registering for a particular group, or young children, if unsupervised on the computer, may accidentally “purchase” items or membership in groups if this function is enabled on your computer. Always be sure to read anything you didn’t type in yourself, to be certain the information is accurate.

The other type of autofill function is available on programs like Microsoft Word®. This will generally recognize certain commonly used words, like your first and last name, and some commonly repeated words like “sincerely” that might appear in letters. Autofill on Word® will also immediately recognize current date, which may cut down on the amount you need to type.

For kids with learning disabilities, primarily dysgraphia, Alphasmarts are portable word processors that can help adequate typists complete work more legibly and usually more quickly than writing things by hand. They may come loaded with programs like an autofill function, which will suggest words based on the first two or three letters of a word typed. This function may become less useful as students advance in vocabulary, but for younger typists, it can help with reducing typing required, and with spelling.

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