LastPass Firefox Add-On Autologin Problem Solved
I’ve mentioned before that I have a habit of not reading the manual or help files that come with most software. Generally, this isn’t really much of an issue for me since I have been working with computers at a high level for years. Unless the interface is very weird or unconventional (I’m looking at you Facebook) I can usually find the basic settings and features with just a few clicks around the menu bar. If I like a software program or utility enough to keep using it, eventually I will think of something that I would like it to do and then go looking in the instructions for how to do it.
Actually, I usually just do a Google search for how to use the software feature. It’s faster.
That’s why it is a very important aspect of business strategy for successfully satisfying your user community to always ensure that your product manuals are not only available online, but easy to find, and most importantly, indexable by search engine spiders.
LastPass Extension Won’t AutoLogin
I have been using LastPass, which has both a Firefox plugin, as well as a LastPass extension for Chrome, and even a LastPass Toolbar for Internet Explorer. Basically, LastPass is a cross-platform password manager for anyone who spends a lot of time online and needs usernames and passwords on more than a handful of accounts. I’ve tried LastPass before, but came back while looking for a means to improve online security for my small business as a freelance writer.
One annoying glitch I ran into is that LastPass won’t autologin to some of my websites. I checked the LastPass vault and checked the autologon box, but LastPass did not autologon to many websites, especially my own freelance writing projects, like my personal finance blog.
As I tried to troubleshoot LastPass and find out what the error was logging in automatically, it occurred to me that I might be making an assumption about how the LastPass autologin feature works.
You see, it isn’t that the auto-login from LastPass wasn’t working at all, it’s that it would not work on certain websites even after I turned the auto-logon on. What I couldn’t figure out was what it was about some websites that made them work with LastPass and what it was about other websites that broke LastPass autologin. The problem was that I was trying to learn what the issue was with the websites. Turns out that is not the bug.
I finally noticed the issue when I went to set a new autologin account for a website and crossed my fingers to hope that this was one of the websites that the autologon would work for. It did, and I was happy. Then, I added a new account for the same website and suddenly my LastPass auto-login was broken. And, the light bulb went on.
Fix LastPass AutoLogin Feature
Obviously, you can only log-on to a website with one username and password at a time. There are ways around this, of course, but at the time you load a website with a login screen, you can only enter one username and one matching password. If you have more than one user account on that website, you have to pick which one to login with. In the case of LastPass, you would have to let it know which account to use to autologin.
I thought I was doing that by only checking the AutoLogin box on one username and password. Any other accounts for that web address were not set to autologin.
That is one way for the user interface to work, but it isn’t the only way. Another user might say that if there is more than one account, then the software should default to asking which account to use, which is how Last Pass does work today. If you have more than one account, it will not autologin, no matter how you have the boxes checked.
For my WordPress blogs, fixing LastPass’ autologin was easy enough. For security purposes (Wow, security really permeates everything these days, doesn’t it?) I do not use “admin” as my user account on my blogs. However, since I set up an Admin account in the first place, LastPass duitifully remembered the username and password. Actually, LastPass imported the username and password that were saved in Firefox, but the effect is the same.
For each of my websites, from how to make money writing online to my blog about adult ADHD tips, there were two user accounts. One was my “real” account, and one was the “admin” account. Since there were two accounts defined, neither one would autologin when I asked it to. After deleting the admin account from the LastPass vault, the other account does autologin without any trouble.
It’s one of those things that no matter how you design your software, someone will think of another way it could, or should, work. I’d like to see a button or checkbox that allows the user to set an autologin with a specific account regardless of the existence of any other accounts for that website. That way, the other usernames and passwords could be saved in the LastPass vault, even if they are never used for autofill or anything. Even better, would be a way to load a webpage while pressing the SHIFT key, or something, and in that case NOT auto-logging on, which would then allow the user to choose an autofill option.
Regardless, now that I understand how this nuance of the Last Pass password manager works, I can make it do what I want it to do, and that is the most important thing about good software design.
Now, if only I could get Microsoft to implement a way to restore the last session in Internet Explorer automatically the next time the browser is started instead of them insisting that they know better than the user, that would be great.