Fixing a Google Chrome failure to save passwords

Sunday, 2 Jul 2017

This is a kind of post that people used to write back in the heady early days of blogging and a more communal web: putting something out there to help Google help other people.

For some time I had been having an irritating persistent failure with Google Chrome that I could not find an answer for:

The list of passwords would just stay blank no matter what I did.

Mysteriously, a handful of passwords did get stored, somehow, somewhere. Chrome could fill those in even as it woudn’t list them on the settings screen.

Searching the web, almost all answers I could find related to the case of people who are logged into Google within Chrome and use its password syncing service. I don’t – I simply want my passwords saved locally. The few answers I found that seemed to relate to my situation invariably suggested resetting one’s profile. Now, that approach does appear not to be mere superstition: of the people I found who had this problem, the ones who reported back all wrote that resetting their profile fixed the problem.

So I had a way of making the problem go away – but I also have a lot of data in my profiles. It’s not just bookmarks. I have tweaked many of the settings, individually for each profile (which is the whole point of using them, after all), and more importantly I use a number of extensions that themselves have extensive configurations. Recreating that all is a big task.

So I went poking around where Chrome stores its user-specific data, inside the user’s home directory:

In there, the main profile resides in a directory called Default, while additional profiles are found in Profile 1, Profile 2 etc.

Within each profile, there is a file called Login Data. It’s an SQLite database (as are many of the files in there), and therefore accompanied by a corresponding Login Data-journal file. Deleting that pair of files fixes password saving in the profile in question without affecting the rest of it. (Note: you must quit Chrome first.)

So a full profile reset is not necessary – you can reset just the password storage by deleting just the files that it uses.

This does mean you lose any passwords you had stored previously, unfortunately. But since you cannot really access them any more anyway, that data loss has effectively already happened by the time you delete the files.