The product of a web developer with a little too much caffeine

More jQuery Magic – iPhone Style Password Box

with 2 comments

I like to think of myself as a technology-neutral developer that can look past any Microsoft-Apple rivalries and instead focus on the best tool for the job…

I like to think that — but I know that I’m a total Microsoft fanboy… 🙂

So wouldn’t you know it that my entire FAMILY has been purchasing Apple stuff lately? Each (adult) family member has an iFail iPhone (except me, of course), my brother has an iTouch, sister-in-law with MacBook – Blasphemy! From my own flesh and blood!! ACK!!

However, despite this treachery I did discover that I did like the way that Apple handled inputting passwords.

iPhone Style Password Box

It’s worth mentioning up front that this code is just an experiment — it’s not a finished product and probably shouldn’t be pasted into a live site.

If you’ve used an iPhone before then you’ve probably noticed that you can see the last character you entered when inputting your password. This character disappears after a moment or two or the next time you enter a character. Using some jQuery and a hidden password field I attempted to create something similar.

[Sample version here.]


Now unfortunately, by using a div instead of an input I’ve taken away the ability to select the characters in the field. When I was working on this I had an idea that I might try using the ‘contenteditable’ property instead and then display the normal password box for browsers that don’t support it.

Why Not A Input[Type=Text]

I tried doing a similar idea with by using a regular text box and just masking the characters on the fly, but ran into a problem where pasting a password would cause the whole thing visible for a moment — which seems like too much of a risk.

Another Approach

The basic idea of the Apple style password box was to show the most recently entered character but the first example lost some of the usability of a normal password box. I figured I’d give the idea a second pass, but adjusted it to be a little more HTML friendly.

[Sample version here.]


You’ll notice in this version that the characters actually float up as you enter them. Similar to before, after a few moments, or when you press a new key, they will disappear.

This version is better from a usability standpoint, but it does have a couple problems of its own. For example, if you enter a really long password then the floating box stops moving at the end — no big deal right? Well for the end of the box, no, it looks fine — but if you click back out in the middle then your floating hints may be off-centered.

Simple But Effective Interface Designs

The code above isn’t ready for publishing, but they are some interesting examples of how you can take a typical form element and use a little jQuery to make some great usability enchancements to them.

You may have read some of my earlier jQuery posts about mimicking Vista style password boxes or creating search highlighting for web pages and noticed that it doesn’t take that much code to transform the functionality of your pages.

How do you enhance your pages for your visitors? It doesn’t take much!


Written by hugoware

July 22, 2009 at 6:24 am

2 Responses

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  1. hey, i liked the demo for the password website. Will you be posting the code.

    Craig Graham

    July 12, 2010 at 9:28 am

    • Sure – Just view the source on the page – I didn’t put it in external files so it is all inline with the page.


      July 12, 2010 at 10:08 am

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