Web, Made Simple: Part 1- Web browser breakdown, plus InformEnter, what is it and why you need it

Due to popular demand, I am starting a new series very similar to my Tutorial series, Web, Made Simple. Anything and anything you want to learn about the web, things to make it easier and more enjoyable, anything at all, leave me a message and I'll make it happen! For now, enjoy part 1 - Web browser breakdown, plus InformEnter, what is it and why you need it.

For many of us commenting other blogs is just as important as posting in our own. It is the interaction we crave! The interaction that brings us more traffic, inspires us, teaches us, forms friendships. Many of us also enter giveaways that require us to leave comments. Often asking the same repetitive questions.

I leave a standard 'signature' at the bottom of my messages, I fill out the same information over and over entering giveaways, logging into different accounts on the web, filling out paid surveys, etc. It feels like all I do is type the same stuff over and over. And after a discussion with Carrisa Rogers tonight, I realized I am not the only one.

A little over a year ago I went in search of a program, add-on, ANYTHING really, that could do what I wanted:
  1. Fill in forms
  2. Fill in my signature
  3. Simplify entering giveaways
  4. Simplify filling out surveys
  5. Save my log ins and passwords
  6. Remember my information!!!
I started my search by looking at what the other blogger are using. I tried every single one of the recommendations I received in my search! The always glamorous Danelle of Homemaker Barbi uses and recommends Roboform. It was a great program, but I wanted something even easier and quicker.

A few different Mac users recommended Safari's built in form filler. Which was WAY easy to set up! Safari uses information from your Address Book card, and will automatically fill in any relevant information into webpage fields. To enable AutoFill, choose Preferences from the Safari menu, click the AutoFill button, and select the "Using info from my Address Book card" checkbox. To make sure that your card is up to date, click the Edit button to open Address Book. Easy right, but not quite as exciting as I was looking for. Plus I wanted to find something that was cross-platform for you PC users as well.

I must have tried 300 different things, but just wasn't happy, that is until I found the InformEnter add-on.

Now the first thing you need to have to use this program is Mozilla's Firefox web browser. So let's talk about internet browsers for a second.
  • Internet Explorer: While still standard on most PCs, I find even the new IE8 to be outdated and restricted. Even the newer versions just don't seem to 'do it' for me. I have to admit when I hear people use IE as their default browser I actually cringe.
  • Google Chrome: Such a small, fast, wonderful browser. I actually use it on the PC I built exclusively for watching hulu.com and television shows on the web because it's such a small program, it keeps the computer running smooth without taxing the CPU at all! No stuttering video for me!
  • Opera: With it's own built-in RSS reader & tools, mail, and the first ever bittorrent client built into a browser, Opera is a fast, reliable, lesser known choice, but has great potential. They also have browsers for phone and smartphones worth checking out!
  • Safari: The standard browser for Mac, now available for PC as well, and my second favorite browser of all time. Tabbed browsing and the new 'cover flow' history and bookmark views make this browser not just functional but visually appealing. smooth designs and fast speeds, built-in RSS and developer tools are just a few of the over 150 features Safari 4 offers.
Now that you know a bit more about the other choices, let me tell you why Firefox is my number one recommended browser, and why its needed.

One word... well two words and a hyphen actually but...
ADD-ONS!!!

Out of all the browsers there is still one thing that Firefox has over them all. Add-ons. No matter what browser you are currently running, I recommend at least giving Firefox a chance and playing with the add-ons. I'm sure you are familiar with iPhone's commercials by now, 'Yeah, there's an app for that.' That's basically when Firefox's add-on's remind me of. Now obviously you don't want to install TOO many end up slowing your browser down, but there are so many helpful ones that I can't live without! StumbleUpon toolbar, Twitterfox, and InformEnter are probably my favorite three. I also love that I can use the Wishpot button to easily update my families wish lists, Swagbucks search (see this post), and FoxyTunes to control my itunes and other music players from inside my browser. You can search for add-ons from mozilla's site or from within your Firefox browser by clicking Tools>Add-ons. There are tons more I love and tons of other reasons why I love Firefox, but lets get back to InformEnter before this post is so long you're tired of reading.

What, Why and How

InformEnter adds a small, clickable icon next to every input field in a web form, from where you can select the item to be inserted - no typing required. You can configure it to display your frequently used information such as name, email, address, blog signature, url, whatever you are tired of typing 300 million times a day. Basically, put it in once and with a single mouse click you can fill in lines or even paragraphs of information.

So first things first, if you are not using Firefox browser please download and install the latest version at Mozilla.com. Using Firefox, please now visit this page to download the InformEnter add-on. Hit Add to Firefox, then Install from the window that pops up, the next window that comes up will install and then say please restart firefox to complete your changes.

TIP: Bookmarking in Firefox is simple. Either click the bookmarks heading on the navigation bar, drag the URL down to the bookmark bar or click the star at the end of the URL. Either way it is a good idea to bookmark this page until we are done. Firefox DOES have a option to save your tabs that are open too, but better be safe than have to do an extra step again!
Once you restart an add-on window should pop up. If not please click Tools>Add-ons. Now under InformEnter click options.

The first thing we will do is click the other options tab. Make sure Inform is enabled and then the rest is all personal preference. You may find you want to change these settings as you use the add-on more.

When you're done with that go back to the Profile Management tab. It will be preset with 'Default profile' but we are going to create New profiles. Depending on what you plan to use this for and how much info you will have in each section will determine how many different profiles you create. The nice thing about this is with a click of the mouse you can change the profile you're using at any time. No worrying about logging in or out. Here are a few of the ideas of profiles I set up for myself:
  • Personal - Personal contains the information such as my mailing name, address, phone number, personal email, etc.
  • Surveys - Surveys contains the information I give out on paid surveys my name, age, address, survey email address, or any information I find is being asked over and over on paid surveys.
  • Giveaway - Giveaway contains the information I compose over and over when entering bloggers giveaways. I will come back to that.
  • Blogger - Blogger contains the information I compose over and over when leaving other bloggers comments, my signature with my profile link and my blog contact email.
  • Freebies - Freebies contains the information I use to request freebies and free samples in the mail including my special freebie email address.

TIP: You may have noticed I mentioned quite a few email addressed in there. I have 8 total. Creating separate email accounts for each of your online activities can be an amazing tool! It will cut down on cutter, be easily sorted, and can cut your inbox time in half. Though you probably don't need 8 (my number included my graphic design business emails & family emails) it is a good idea to use a separate email account for newsletters, free stuff, and entering contests. You can never be too careful where your email address will end up and it's an easy way too keep your main addresses spam free!
Create all your profiles first. Don't worry if you're not sure, you can go back and add or delete as many as you want. Once you have them created I will show you the easiest way to start filling out your information within the profiles so you know it's formatted right.

Go ahead and close the options window for Inform Enter and go to anywhere that you have a blank form box. I used a comment box on my own blog or in my email, but you can use anything where you see that little blue arrow show up. For the example I will use my comment box.

Hover over that little blue arrow. (If there is a max number of characters, or certain length it will allow you to type it will show.) Now if you right-click the arrow with your mouse you will see a box come up that basically looks like this:
If you left-click you will see this: (only with the different profile names you created. If you are not using default you can delete it by the way)
So now the easiest way to switch profiles is to left-click and then just select the one you want. Then if you right click again on the arrow, the list stuff you add will be one-click to select!

Select the first category on your list, for tutorial examples I am going to use the default as an example. If it's just one line words you want to enter then by all means just open up your options and type one word/sentence per line. Like this:
As far as I know you can enter line by line until the cows come home. Do that for each of your profiles that you have just single line entries.

So now say you want to save something that looks like this:
Not necessarily the message itself, but the spaces and then signature, so all you have to do is throw your message in there. Or maybe you're tired of entering the same giveaway information over and over like these:
The easiest way to save this info is to
  1. make sure when you left-click the profile you want to add to is selected.
  2. go to your comment box and type out your signature, giveaway info, etc EXACTLY the way you want it to always appear.
  3. Don't hit submit! Instead right-click on the blue arrow and hit 'add text to profile'
and it will save it just as perfect as you typed it! (note if you look at it in the options menu it will have '@' symbols where there are spaces.)

You can keep adding them until you got everything you want or just add them as you type them in during your form filling. Ta-Da!

All you have to do to fill the forms and boxes in, is left-click the blue arrow and select the one you want:
There you go! No more typing the same stuff over and over and over! I even have personalized ones for certain blogs giveaways! Saves me SO much time!

TIP: Copy and paste each one of your profiles into a text document and save on your computer and back up disks for easy recovery in case firefox upsets or resets or in case you want to use it on another computer, just email it to yourself if you don't have a pen drive!

Happy Autofilling! :)

Do you have any questions? What do you fill out over and over you are excited to use this on?
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