Adobe Flash. It was once THE way to create audio, video and rich graphics-laden websites, performing feats of design and interaction well beyond the capabilities of mere HTML.
Over the many, many years, HTML capabilities improved, and Adobe Flash ended up relegated to delivering web ads and YouTube videos.
Nowadays, downloading Flash on Windows PCs is only possible for the Firefox and now unsupported versions of the older Internet Explorer browser.
Microsoft included Flash Player in Internet Explorer 10, 11 and now in its new Windows 10 ‘Edge’ browser, too.
This is similar to the way Google includes Flash Player inside of Google Chrome on Windows, Mac and Linux versions of Google Chrome.
Plenty more must-read info below, please read on!
Flash Player for IE 11 and Edge is updated via the Windows Updates facility of your version of Windows. While these updates are supposed to happy automatically, it never hurts to check Windows Updates to ensure the latest updates have indeed been installed.
Google Chrome automatically updates itself as you use the Google Chrome browser, thus keeping its inbuilt-version of Flash up-to-date, but you can always check Chrome’s update status for yourself by clicking on ‘Help’ and then ‘About Google Chrome’ in Windows.
On the Mac, you click on the bolded ‘Google Chrome’ at the top left next to the Apple symbol, and then click on ‘About Google Chrome’ for the same info.
Uninstalling or disabling Flash
A new tab will pop up showing you which version of Chrome is currently installed and whether an update is available, or not.
It is possible to disable the Flash Player in the Edge browser - instructions can be found at the Ten Forums site here.
This ZDNet article explains how to disable Flash built into Internet Explorer 10 and 11.
This Tom’s Guide article explains how to disable Flash in Safari, Opera, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer.
If you use Firefox, you can simply uninstall Adobe Flash from the ‘Programs and Features’ icon in the Windows Control Panel on Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.
If you’re still using Windows XP, you can go to the ‘Add/Remove Programs’ icon in the Control Panel and remove it there.
Firefox is the only major browser that uses the standalone Flash player.
Adobe has instructions for Windows users on how to uninstall the standalone Flash Player if you’re having issues - click here.
Mac users can find Adobe uninstallation instructions here.
These instructions won’t uninstall Flash from IE 10, 11, Edge or Google Chrome. You’ll need to disable as shown in the websites linked above.
Flash on the Mac
On my Mac, I have uninstalled Flash so it is not available to the Safari or Firefox browsers I have installed.
You might wonder then how I access sites that have Flash content that isn’t available to view any other way.
For that, I simply use Google Chrome, which has Flash built-in.
That said, I use Safari for 99.9% of my browsing, and it is becoming rarer and rarer to find sites that only have video available in Flash format.
Sure, it still happens, there’s no question about that, but many video sites have video available via HTML5, which works in standard browsers.
Now I don’t have to put up with Adobe Flash update announcements on a regular basis, and if I ever see one in a web browser that isn’t simply a message telling me Flash isn’t available, but instead is designed to look like the Flash update message, I know it is fake - as I don’t have the standalone Flash player plug-in installed!
So - it is possible to live as Flash-free a life as possible, simply by having a copy of Google Chrome to hand.
You can do this on your Windows PC, too - just disable Flash in Internet Explorer 11 and Edge on your Windows PC, and only use Flash in Google Chrome for those rare instances you need it.
Just make sure to check that Google Chrome is indeed updated if you don’t use Google Chrome that often.
The importance of updating ALL the software on your Mac and PC - free and paid programs to the job
For more information on the need to update Flash - and the extreme importance of updating plenty of other software programs you use on your PC on a regular basis, check out the article written earlier today by iTWire colleague Ray Shaw entitled ‘Another Flash Zero-day exploit - extreme patch alert.’
In that article, Ray talks about free software called Personal Software Inspector from Flexera that identifies insecure software applications in need of security updates.
There are more alternatives here at Alternativeto.net, but most are only for PCs, however.
On Macs, you can use the free Mac Informer client to do the same thing.
A paid equivalent is MacUpdate Desktop 6.
You can also use the built-in update tool in the Mac OS X App Store for all apps you've downloaded from the App Store, but if you have other programs installed directly from the Internet, MacInformer, MacUpdate Desktop and the programs listed below will come in handy to tell you when updates are available.
For business or enterprise-class patch management of Macs, this Spiceworks community article lists a few programs.
Keep safe out there on the Internet, and please make sure your OS and all the programs you use are always up to date - and that you always have an up-to-date backup in case anything ever goes wrong with any of your updates!