LastPass is a password manager I’ve used for years. On Android, I’ve been able to both sync Chrome bookmarks and use a LastPass plugin with the Dolphin browser, but on iOS I’ve been limited to using the rather horrible LastPass app and manually copy passwords over when needed. I guess I might have heard about the LastPass bookmarklet in the past, but it wasn’t until I came across it again lately that I finally decided to try it with my iPad mini.

A bookmarklet is a bookmark that contains a bit of custom code that performs a task on the active page rather than load a new one. It’s essentially a makeshift plugin system, offering less functionality, but broader compatibility. The instructions for getting the bookmarklet onto the device are more than a bit overly complicated, and are in fact completely redundant, but I’ll get to that once I explain what I actually did to get them over.

The idea behind the official method is that since you can’t add bookmarks by dragging them to the bookmarks folder in Safari on iOS, you need to get the bookmarks there some other way. The instructions therefore tell you to add the bookmarks to a browser that can be synced with iTunes (Internet Explorer or Safari), connect your device to iTunes, activate bookmark syncing from the Info tab when browsing your device in iTunes, and then sync.

There’s nothing wrong with this method, but it’s also a few steps more than what’s necessary. What you can do instead, is to copy the actual code that makes up the bookmarklet. Simply edit the bookmarklets on your computer (the bookmarklets themselves are available from your control panel on lastpass.com), and grab the javascript code. It should be a long bit of code starting with something like “javascript:(function()”. Paste it into an email and send it to yourself, or use another method to copy it to your iOS device. Make sure you get all of it when you copy it, and then open Safari. Add any bookmark to your bookmarks folder (not the homescreen). Then, in the bookmarks list, activate edit mode, and click your bookmark. The URL section that was blocked when you added the bookmark is now possible to edit, so you can remove what’s there and paste in your bookmarklet code. Rename it appropriately, and you’re done!

Once done, and have signed into LastPass once, the bookmarklets will allow you to auto-fill or auto-login to sites using these bookmarks. When on a site you have login info for, make sure the login field is on the screen, and  hit the bookmarklet. It will then either fill or login for you (depending on which bookmarklet you used). It even works with sites you have multiple logins for, as it uses a small popup box to give you options, or error messages if something’s wrong.

I still would have preferred a true plugin experience, but I’m happy just having this. I have no clue why the complicated syncing method is listed when you can just copy the code over, but something might have changed with regards to bookmarks to allow the new method to work (could you edit bookmarks before iOS 6? I don’t know). If you use LastPass, this is definitely a trick to try out, and if you don’t…does the ability to have unique, secure passwords for all sites and not have to worry about remembering them sound interesting?