Software

How to disable Flash in Chrome

It's time to end your use of Adobe Flash. Andy Wolber shows you how to disable Flash in Chrome on your system--and for your entire organization.

No Flash

Habits can change.

Take smoking, for example. According to information on the American Cancer Society website, "Cigarette smoking has decreased among adults in the United States from about 42% of the population in 1965 to 18% in 2012." Yet even today, "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adobe Flash doesn't kill, but it sure does cause problems and concern.

Flash thrives on malicious sites. According to the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report in 2014, "Adobe Flash objects were the most commonly detected type of object hosted on malicious pages in every quarter except 2Q14" (see page 34 of the report for details). In July 2015, Facebook's Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos, tweeted: "It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day."

And Flash isn't mobile-friendly. Neither of the most-used mobile browsers—Google's Chrome on Android and Apple's Safari on iOS—supports Flash. In April 2010, Steve Jobs dismissed Flash as a relic from the desktop days when he wrote "Flash was created during the PC era—for PCs and mice." Five years later, in April 2015, Google adjusted search algorithms to favor sites that are mobile-friendly. On mobile devices, Google search results prioritize mobile-friendly pages over those that aren't. Flash isn't.

Disable Flash in Chrome for your browser

To disable Flash in Chrome on the web:

  1. Type the following where you would normally type a URL:
    chrome://plugins
  2. Locate the Flash Player in the list of plug-ins. You may see more than one Flash Player listed.
  3. Select Disable for each Flash Player listed (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

To disable Flash in Chrome on the web go to chrome://plugins, then adjust the settings.

To verify that Flash is no longer enabled, go to Adobe's Flash Player Help page, and select the Check Now button. You should see a message that indicates that "Flash Player is pre-installed in Google Chrome, but not enabled."

See Google's help page on the Adobe Flash Player plug-in for more details.

Disable Flash in Chrome in Google Apps

If you're a Google Apps administrator, you can disable Flash in Chrome for accounts in your domain. This blocks Flash when people login to Chrome on the web—or a Chromebook—with their organizational Google Apps account. As a courtesy, notify people before you make this change.

To disable Flash in Chrome for Google Apps on the web:

  1. Login to your Google Apps Admin Console at http://admin.google.com.
  2. Choose Apps, then select Additional Google Services.
  3. Next, select Chrome Management, then User settings.
  4. Scroll down the settings page to Enabled and Disabled Plug-ins. In the Disabled Plug-ins text area, add *Flash* on its own line (Figure B). Capitalization matters: a lower case *flash* won't work.
  5. Select Save to finalize your changes.

Figure B

Figure B

A Google Apps administrator can disable Flash for the organization.

To verify that you've blocked Flash via Google Apps, type:

chrome://plugins

where you would normally type a URL. Make sure to do this from a Chrome browser that you signed in to with your Google Apps account. You should see that Flash has been "Disabled by enterprise policy" (Figure C). The change may take up to an hour to take effect, although it typically occurs immediately.

Figure C

Figure C

You can identify whether an individual or Google Apps administrator disabled Flash.

Move beyond Flash sites

You may need to find sites that don't require Flash to replace sites that do. For example, Ookla's popular Speedtest.net uses Flash to measure your internet connection speed. A Google search for "alternative to speedtest.net" returns http://SpeedOf.Me and http://TestMy.Net. Neither relies on Flash.

Your sites shouldn't rely on Flash. If they do, your site won't serve mobile users. You'll need to either fund an update to your site or fire your website team if they refuse to move beyond Flash. This may be especially true in the education market. As RJ Jacquez, who previously worked for Adobe and Macromedia, suggests, "If you are still using antiquated software that produces Flash-based eLearning, you are missing out and doing your learners a disservice."

Over time, people recognized smoking as harmful. So, most people stopped. Plenty of experts and evidence have recognized Flash as harmful. Have you—or your organization—blocked or stopped using Flash? What prompted you to make the change? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

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About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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