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TextExpander vs Typeit4me: one bug to rule them

I am trying out “TextExpander” because I was having a problem with Typeit4me where it would stop working often with no reason. The TextExpander folks got back to me quickly with an explanation and I have to assume it is affecting many people. There is a bug in Firefox and Chrome where they enable secure input but don’t disable it.

This bug is particularly infuriating because it doesn’t seem clear to the end user what causes it. However, it does have a cause, a workaround, and it does seem to be getting some traction from the Mozilla folks.

When these browsers display a password field, they turn on secure event input so that no one, including TextExpander, can peek at your passwords. Problem is, if you use the Return key to submit a form from within its secure field, they won’t turn secure event input off. This appears to be a bug they’ve inherited from some Firefox code they use.

The workaround is to use the submit button rather than using Return in the password field. 1Password is similarly affected by this bug. The workaround there is to turn off auto-submit and just use auto-fill then press the button to submit.

THE SOLUTION: Usually when you quit the application that enabled secure input (permanently) it will be disabled and all will be back to normal.

When editing a password field on the Mac, Firefox ultimately calls EnableSecureEventInput to prevent other input managers from sniffing the user’s password. If I exit the password field by clicking in another field, or by clicking the “submit” button, then Firefox properly calls DisableSecureEventInput. However, if I exit the password field by hitting return (thereby submitting the form), then DisableSecureEventInput is not called, and other input managers on the system are permanently locked out of keyboard input.

Steps to Reproduce:

  1. create a form that has an input field of type “password” and an input of type “submit”
  2. use Firefox, and type in the password form
  3. set a breakpoint on DisableSecureEventInput
  4. exit the form by hitting return

Actual Results: DisableSecureEventInput is not called, and other input managers are locked out of keyboard input

via Bug 556873 – exiting a password field by pressing return fails to disable secure entry mode.
Feel free to vote it up….

and after I use TextExpander a while longer I will comment in more detail about how it compares. so far it seems to be faster and not stumble on replacements when I type fast.

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  1. Posted December 1, 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Hi Ari

    thanks for posting this.

    When you have finished evaluating TextExpander, I would sure appreciate your feedback in terms of how it compares to TypeIt4Me, which I have been improving since I first released it in 1989.


  2. Posted December 15, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    I’ve been waiting for a fix for this bug forever! I voted for the Mozilla bug when it only had 12 users on the list. I don’t think Mozilla is putting much priority on it, if any at all. Curiously, Agile (developers of 1Password) seem to have somehow fixed the problem in Chrome. I discussed the matter with them in their user forums and they told me it is a different story with Firefox, that Mozilla has to fix it. TextExpander says the same.

    TextExpander and 1Password are both apps I cannot live without. I really hate manually clicking on the submit buttons but I hate shutting down and restarting Firefox to get TextExpander working again even more! I hope someone fixes this already!

  3. Posted January 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Problem w typit4me is that Riccardo doesn’t offer any support.

    Since june I have send him a question about using rich text / HTML + a couple of other issues: I get any auto response: will be dealt with 48 hours, if no reply re-send the mail with REPEAT in the subject : which I have done again [+ again, etc] getting the initial auto response: will be dealt….



    I contacted the other 2 e mail addresses on their www: no reply

  4. Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. I very much appreciate it.

  5. Posted August 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m evaluating TypeIt4Me as a functional replacement to autohotkeys on Windows (surprisingly no packages approach this functionality this on Mac or Linux, pipe up if I’m wrong) when I hit my head on this very problem. I’ll check out TextExpander, but $35 is steep for a text input macro system.

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