Trying to get used to BW UI and get autofill working

I moved to BW a few days ago as a refugee from Last Pass. I found it easy to import my data but spent a day going through over 400 entries to delete ones that are no longer needed and change the passwords. It was a struggle at first, but I got the hang of it.

I am having trouble getting auto fillin to function but before tinkering with that, I need to better understand the interface on my Windows desktop shown in the image.

Panels 1 and 2 are the browser window with the vault open. Panel 1 and Panel 3 (which pops up when I turn on the extension from the Firefox tool bar seem to be similar although Panel 3 loses the Tab button at the bottom left when you detach it from the fixed position in the open window as I have done in this image.

I would call Panel 3 the extension. What should Panel 1 be referred to as? I can move panel 3 outside the browser, but Panel 1, I think, is fixed where it is shown.

The only difference I see in their function is that when I detach Panel 3 so it can be moved out of the browser window, it loses its Tab button. Why would that be? So far it doesn’t seem to limit what I have been doing but I am no doubt missing something.

My notion would be close Panel 1 so it doesn’t reduce the browser window and use the Panel 3 browser extension but that means I lose the Tabs button. Will that be all I lose? Will it matter?

When it gets right down to it, what is the advantage of using either of Panel 1 or 3 over just working right in the main vault window, Panel 2?

Thanks in advance for any guidance that helps me climb the learning curve.

Cheers, Ken

Hi @KenWalker and welcome to the Community!

I use Chrome instead of Firefox, but I’ll try to answer your main question:

There are several ways for a user to interact with Bitwarden:

  1. Desktop App: This is a separate application that you run outside of any browser. Do you have that?
  2. Browser Extension: It looks a little different in Chrome, but I believe that is both your Panel 1 and Panel 3. The Extension can be inside or outside the browser.
  3. Web Vault: That is what you get when you go to Bitwarden Web Vault and login. It generally takes up a whole browser tab. I believe this is your Panel 2.

For my normal workflow of logging into websites, I use the Extension and Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+L to fill in usernames and passwords on websites.

When I have to do extensive Vault editing or Vault Backup*, I use mostly the Web Vault or occasionally the Desktop App.

Does that help?

*As an aside, please make certain that you Backup your Vault and store it and a written copy of your password in secure locations!


To add on to @RogerDodger’s answer:

When the browser extension is attached to the browser, it is able to detect and interact with the currently active browser tab. When you detach (“pop out”) the browser extension into its own window, this is no longer possible.

The “Tab” view in the browser extension provides functionality related to the current browser tab, so it serves no purpose when the extension has been popped out (and is therefore not available).

In the “Tab” view, clicking the add a login link (or clicking the :heavy_plus_sign: icon in the upper right corner) will create a new login item for the website in the current browser tab, pre-filling the Name and URI fields. If any login items already in your vault are matched to the webpage in the current browser tab, then the “Tab” view will list the available login accounts for that webpage (and you can auto-fill the web form by just clicking on the account that you want). Furthermore, if you go to Settings > Options, you can enable the options Show cards on Tab page and/or Show identities on Tab page, which do exactly that. This provides a convenient way to auto-fill credit card information into the currently open webpage (in the “Tab” view, just click on the listing for the credit card that you wish to auto-fill). Similarly for identity items — click on an identity in the “Tab” view to transfer the stored information to the currently open webpage.

None of these functions are available when the browser extension has been popped out.


If you provide more details about the trouble you are encountering, someone here will be able to help.


I didn’t realize that there is a separate desktop app available. With that installed, all is well. Thanks for your help.

I didn’t realize that there is a separate desktop app. I am using that now and everything is going smoothly. Thanks for that tip.

I will do the backups you have recommended.


Thanks, that helps me understand why things work the way they do.