Downloading Flash Player

By david ·
am experiencing difficulties in getting Flash Player to work with Firefox. Flash Player is installed on my computer but Firefox keeps asking me to download it. When I do this I get the message that it cannot be downloaded automatically. I have to download it, close Firefox then install Flash Player but when I do this it says Flash Player is not installed. Flash Player works fine in all my other programs and even Internet Explorer. Any ideas for a solution?
I have tried following the solution given on the MozillaZine site ( but get back to the same original problem of it not being able to find Flash Player.

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According to the Monzilla Documents there are 2 Flash Players

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Downloading Flash Player

That need to be installed.

Installing Flash on Windows
There are two Flash players offered for Windows users: the Flash ActiveX control for Internet Explorer/AOL and the Flash plugin for Firefox/Mozilla/Netscape/Opera browsers. Each must be installed separately, since the Flash plugin installer does not add the ActiveX control and vice versa. In other words, it's possible to have the Flash 8 plugin installed for Mozilla browsers and the Flash 9 ActiveX control installed for Internet Explorer, and both will work.

You can see what version of the Flash plugin is installed by entering about:plugins in the Location Bar of your Mozilla browser and finding the entry for "Shockwave Flash". For example, on Windows XP with Flash 9.0 r115 installed, you should see:

Shockwave Flash
File name: C:\WINDOWS\system32\Macromed\Flash\NPSWF32.dll
Shockwave Flash 9.0 r115
Note: To see the full path to the plugin file NPSWF32.dll as shown above, instead of just the file name, use about:config to change the value of plugin.expose_full_path to "true".

If you see two versions of Shockwave Flash listed in about plugins, this can occur if the Flash plugin file "NPSWF32.dll" is located in the Mozilla browser's installation directory plugins folder and another copy is detected in a different location, e.g., the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\Macromed\Flash folder on Windows XP. In such cases, the copy in the browser plugins folder takes precedence. The installation of Flash 9.0 r45 or later should detect and remove the Flash plugin from the plugins folder of detected browsers. If it doesn't, manually delete the "NPSWF32.dll" file from the browser plugins folder so that the newer version can be used.

Starting with Flash 9.0.r45 the Flash plugin installer for Firefox and other Mozilla-based browsers does not copy any files to the browser plugins folder. Instead, the files "NPSWF32.dll", "flashplayer.xpt" and related files are placed in the Macromed\Flash folder located in the Windows System directory (e.g., C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\Macromed\Flash) and the installer removes any copies found in the installation directory of detected browsers. A Windows registry entry is created enabling each Mozilla browser to detect Flash via plugin scanning (PLID scan). [1]

Flash 9.0.r28 and earlier versions of the Flash plugin installer copied these two files to the installation directory of Firefox and other detected Mozilla browsers:

NPSWF32.dll to the plugins folder
flashplayer.xpt to the components folder or the plugins folder (for scripting support).
You would then have needed to copy these two files to the plugins folder of undetected browsers (e.g., zip builds). Note that an XPI package that was available for Flash 9.0.r28 and earlier using the "Install" link at PluginDoc also copied the Flash plugin files to the Windows System directory's Macromed\Flash folder and added a registry entry so that all Mozilla browsers could find the files through plugin scanning, using a Windows registry PLID scan.

So have you downloaded both of these Players? Then have you made sure that both are installed?

By your Description you are not actually installing the the Flash Player Plugin.


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Problems updating the Flash player?

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Problems updating the Flash player in Firefox? Here's help
Posted by Michael Horowitz 12 comments

Installing a new version of software should be trivial thing--especially for popular software such as the Adobe Systems' Flash player, which is used by millions of people every day. But no.

For one, the Flash player does not play well with the other kids in the sandbox. That is, trying to remove the currently installed version via the Windows XP Control Panel Add/Remove applet is a waste of time. The first three machines I tried this on resulted in three different outcomes, and the software was not removed on any of the machines. Instead, Adobe has an uninstaller for the Flash player.

And why do I bring up removing old versions in the first place?

Because the Flash installer has never removed older versions of the program. The first time I ran the Secunia Software Inspector I almost fell off my chair at the huge list of old versions of the Flash player that were hanging around. Those old versions were flagged by Secunia because they had security vulnerabilities (a nice word for bug, which is itself, a nice word for a mistake by a programmer).

As I blogged about yesterday, this is now an important issue because the latest version of the Flash player fixes nine bugs, some of them critical (Adobe's term, not mine). Simply viewing a Web page can infect your machine, so removing the old buggy versions of Flash is important.

Unfortunately the bugs in Flash extend beyond the player itself, as I learned the hard way while trying to update a handful of machines to the latest version.

Two versions of the Flash player
Screenshot from the Secunia Software Inspector showing both the
IE ActiveX version of the Flash player (top) and the Firefox plug-in version

Even in the best of times, the Flash player is particularly annoying to upgrade because it has to be done twice, once for Internet Explorer and then again for Firefox. The player comes packaged as an ActiveX control ("control" is nerd talk for "program") for IE and as a "plug-in" for Firefox.

You can see this is the screenshot above from the Secunia Software Inspector, which shows both versions of the latest Flash player. The .ocx file at the top is the ActiveX version; the .dll file at the bottom is the plug-in version. As you can see, both files normally reside in

The problems described below were only with the Firefox plug-in version.

Fighting to upgrade

One computer in particular desperately resisted being updated to the latest version of the Flash player. I eventually got it working, however. So if anything similar happens to you, you may find a helpful tip below. The problematic machine was running the latest version of Firefox ( and Windows XP with all bug fixes applied.

I mentioned yesterday that Adobe has what I refer to as a "tester" page for Flash, a Web page that displays the currently installed version of the Flash player.

When I approached the machine this morning, the Flash tester page showed that Firefox was running the old version 9.0.47* but Internet Explorer 6 was running the latest version 9.0.115. I dutifully ran the Adobe Flash uninstaller (the version from December 3, 2007) and then went back to the tester page to see what it had done. The ActiveX version for Internet Explorer was successfully removed, but the Firefox plug-in version remained.

I cleared the Firefox cache, rebooted and tested again. Still, the Adobe tester page reported that Firefox was using the old version.

I got a second opinion from the Secunia Software Inspector: it said there was no plug-in version of Flash. Who to believe, Adobe or Secunia?

My first guess was to believe Secunia since all they do is look for files in folders, a simple process that shouldn't break. Sure enough, when I checked, there was no NPSWF32.dll file in C:\WINDOWS\system32\Macromed\Flash.

But I figured the acid test was to visit a Web site that uses Flash, so I browsed around a bit. Lo and behold, Firefox was able to display the Flash-based ads. Both the Adobe uninstaller and Secunia had failed to locate the copy of the Flash player that Firefox was using. Nice work, guys.

But, if the NPSWF32.dll file was not in it's official folder, Firefox was nonetheless picking it up from somewhere. To find out where, I ran a Secunia "thorough system inspection," something I suggested at the end of my previous posting.

Sure enough, it found three instances of the Firefox plug-in version of the Flash player.

A portable version of Firefox on the M disk was using Flash version 9.0.47, another portable version of Firefox on the Z disk was using Flash version 9.0.45 (the Adobe Flash tester page confirmed this). But the interesting file was on the C disk:
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins\NPSWF32.dll
This was probably the file Firefox was using.
Installing the Firefox plug-in version of the Flash player
from the downloaded EXE file

At this point I figured I'd just install the new Flash player and be on my way to the next machine. So I went to the Flash player download center and downloaded an EXE to install the plug-in version of Flash for Firefox. The install ran successfully as shown above (I can't show all the messages because the window is not re-sizeable).

Not trusting anything, I verified that the official folder C:\WINDOWS\system32\Macromed\Flash did, in fact, contain a file called NPSWF32.dll and that its properties showed it to be version 9.0.115.

I cleared the Firefox cache and restarted the browser. You could have knocked me over with a feather when the Adobe tester still showed that Firefox was using the old version 9.0.47 instead the just-installed latest version, 9.0.115.

Determined not to be defeated by Adobe's incompetence at the simple task of installing and uninstalling its own software, I renamed the NPSWF32.dll in C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins\ to NPSWF32.DONTUSE.ME.dll, cleared the Firefox cache again and restarted the browser.

It was still using version 9.0.47!

This I truly did not expect. After all, I had uninstalled the Flash player, installed it successfully and renamed the file it might have been picking up by mistake. Despite all this, it kept using the old version. But from where? Can you guess?

Fortunately there was no need to guess. The excellent Process Explorer can display the DLLs loaded by any running process.
The Flash player DLL used by Firefox

A picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at the screenshot of Process Explorer above. Despite renaming the NPSWF32.dll file and despite that it does not reside in the official folder, Firefox is still using it. Now I'm annoyed with Mozilla, too.

The next step was obviously to delete the NPSWF32.DONTUSE.ME.dll file, and, finally, this activated the new 9.0.115 version of the Flash player.

A parade of bugs

Let me wrap up by summarizing the virtual parade of bugs I ran into:

Adobe bug: Its uninstaller program did not uninstall the Flash player being used by Firefox. It missed the player used by both the normally installed copy of Firefox and by two portable versions of Firefox.

Secunia bug: Firefox was using an old buggy version of the Flash player, but its regular inspector didn't find any instance of Flash to report on, let alone object to.

Adobe and/or Mozilla bug: After successfully installing the new version of the Flash player, Firefox didn't use it.

Firefox bug: Using a DLL despite having the wrong name.

Firefox bug: There should be one and only one location that Firefox uses for plug-ins. The use of two folders for plug-ins fooled both Secunia and Adobe.

Not to mention the nine bugs in the Flash player that kicked off this endeavor. And not being able to use the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet in Windows XP to remove the Flash player. It works for everyone else, why not for Flash? All this is made even worse by the fact that Flash and Firefox are mature, popular products.

They don't make programmers like they used to.

Update: January 30, 2008. For more on this topic see A heads-up on the Adobe Flash player from January 26, 2008.

Update: January 6, 2008. There is yet another location that Firefox will pick up the Flash player from that the Adobe un-installer ignores. See Black eyes for Adobe.

Update: January 10, 2008. Based on this blog posting, Secunia is changing how their online inspector works. The below is from an email message from them to me:

By default the Secunia Online Software Inspector will only search default install directories, to our knowledge the default plug-in directory for Flash in Firefox has previously been: %ProgramFiles%\Mozilla Firefox\plugins
However, with a recent update they (Adobe or Firefox) changed the Firefox Flash plugin directory to be: %SystemRoot%\SYSTEM32\Macromed\Flash
This is why a default inspector (non-thorough) wouldn't pick up any Flash files from the Firefox plug-in directory.
However, based on your findings we have chosen to re-insert the default Firefox plug-in directory again, so it should now pick-up Flash plug-ins located in both directories.

* The full version numbers are and but I'm leaving out the last zero so your eyes don't glaze over and because it's not relevant to the point at hand. Adobe also uses commas in the version number instead of periods. I'm using periods here because that's the standard for version numbers.

Please post back if you have more problems or questions.

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