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  1. Computer Skills
  2. Flash
Computers

How to Uninstall, Disable and Remove Adobe Flash

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In this tutorial I'll show you how to trash Adobe Flash. With recent news that, not one but two, zero-day vulnerabilities, Flash is no longer saviour of the universe. 

Adobe Flash has long been a frustration, for computer users, with its seemingly almost daily requirement to install patches and updates. It is important, of course, to ensure that the software on a computer is fully patched and up-to-date otherwise it might be at risk from malware and/or viruses. 

Flash is now putting computer users at risk, it is time to consider whether Flash is any longer a necessity. 

A Brief History of Flash

In Internet terms, Flash originated in the Middle Ages when Macromedia launched Flash 1.0, in 1996, following its acquisition of FutureSplash. Flash comprised an editor and a player. 

At the time, Flash Player—with its small footprint well-suited to the 56kbps world of dial-up internet—was a way to bring cross-platform multimedia content to the web. 

Development of Flash, by Macromedia, led to the introduction of the ActionScript programming language in 2000 which allowed developers to introduce Rich Internet Applications, or RIAs, to incorporate animation and produce games and interactive websites. 

In 2005 an Internet start-up, called YouTube, used Flash to deliver video content. YouTube went on to be quite popular. 

Adobe Systems acquired Macromedia, in 2005, and rebranded Macromedia Flash as Adobe Flash. In 2008, Adobe rebranded Flash Player as Adobe AIR, or Adobe Integrated Runtime, to bring content to cross-platform desktops as applications.

Criticism of Flash

Famously, Apple's Steve Jobs was a vocal critic of Flash. The original iPhone, launched in 2007, did not support Flash. iOS devices, to this day, have not natively supported Adobe's product. 

In April 2010, Jobs publicly cited his reasons against Flash—in the face of heavy public and tech media criticism—for preventing its use on iOS: 

  • It's proprietary software
  • The H.264 format for delivering video is superior
  • Reliability issues
  • Security issues
  • Performance issues
  • Impact on battery life
  • Touch not supported

Jobs concluded that Flash was created in the PC era. Jobs was already focussed on a post-PC era

Jobs was not the first. In 2008, founder of Mozilla Europe, Tristan Nitot, said, 

"You're producing content [in Flash] for your users and there's someone [Adobe] in the middle deciding whether users should see your content."

From late-2010, Apple stopped shipping Flash in new versions of OS X, although Mac users were free to install Flash if they so required or desired.

With the introduction of OS X Mavericks, Apple introduced browser technology, called Safari Power Saver, that paused Flash content in webpages in order to conserve battery life.

The Current Problem With Flash

Aside from the reasons given by Jobs in April 2010, Flash is a security risk. 

Hackers are discovering vulnerabilities with increasing regularity and the scope exists for these to be exploited before Adobe can patch them as is the case with one of the latest vulnerabilities.

1. How to Disable Flash in Web Browsers

Disabling Flash in modern web-browsers is relatively straightforward, ...if you know where to look.

Google Chrome

Flash ships with Google's Chrome web browser and is directly integrated and enabled by default. Updates for Flash are included in Chrome updates and the browser upgrades itself automatically.

Disabling the Adobe Flash Player Plugin in Google Chrome
Disabling the Adobe Flash Player Plugin in Google Chrome

These instructions work across Mac OS X, Linux, Chrome OS and Windows operating systems:

  1. Type chrome:plugins into the address bar to open the plugins page
  2. On the Plugins page that appears, find the Flash listing
  3. To disable Adobe Flash Player completely, click the Disable link 
  4. To re-enable Adobe Flash Player, click the Enable link 

Apple Safari

Whilst OS X has not shipped with Flash, by default, for some time, it is always possible that it has been installed it for some long forgotten reason.

Click on Allow Plug-ins Website Settings to disable Flash in Safari
Click on Allow Plug-ins [Website Settings] to disable Flash in Safari

To uninstall Flash in Safari:

  1. Open Safari
  2. Go to Safari > Preferences
  3. Click Security
  4. Click Website Settings
  5. Click Allow Plugins
  6. Select Adobe Flash Player from left hand pane
  7. Click Block

Mozilla Firefox

To uninstall Flash in Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Open the browser menu and click Add-ons
  3. Select the Plugins tab
  4. Select Shockwave Flash and click Disable

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Once the most popular browser on the planet, technology has moved on, though Internet Explorer remains the browser of choice for a minority.

Disabling Flash in Internet Explorer
Disabling Flash in Internet Explorer

Depending on which version of Internet Explorer is being used, and whether it is on Windows 7 or not, determines the procedure for disabling Flash. 

In this instance, it makes sense to refer to Microsoft's instructions for Managing Add-Ons in Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Project Spartan in Windows 10

If you live at the bleeding-edge of technology, chances are that you're currently evaluating Microsoft Windows 10. Given that you live at the bleeding-edge of tech, you really should do away with Flash.

Disabling Flash in Project Spartan on Windows 10
Disabling Flash in Project Spartan on Windows 10

In Windows 10:

  1. Open Project Spartan
  2. Click the three dots ... in the top right hand corner
  3. Click Settings
  4. Scroll down almost to the very bottom
  5. Under Add-ons there is a toggle switch to enable or disable Adobe Flash Player
  6. Toggle switch to Off

2. How to Uninstall Flash From OS X

Perhaps disabling Flash in the browser is not enough to ensure you sleep comfortably at night. If this is the case, look at uninstalling the software altogether. It's relatively straightforward.

1. Establish the Mac OS X Version

Click on the Apple symbol on the top-left of the menu bar that runs along the top of the screen. Then select About This Mac.

This opens a window with further information about the computer along with the version of OS X in operation. Make a note of the version of OS X. 

For the following versions of OS X:

  • OS X 10.1 Puma
  • OS X 10.2 Jaguar
  • OS X 10.3 Panther

Download the Adobe Flash Uninstaller for OS X 10.1-10.3 versions.

For the following versions of OS X:

  • OS X 10.4 Tiger
  • OS X 10.5 Leopard

Download the Adobe Flash Uninstaller for OS X 10.4-10.5 versions.

For the following versions of OS X:

  • OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
  • OS X 10.7 Lion
  • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks
  • OS X 10.10 Yosemite

Download the Adobe Flash Uninstaller for OS X 10.6-10.10 versions.

2. Run the Uninstaller

Download the appropriate Adobe Flash uninstaller for the version of OS X installed on the Mac.

Quit web browsers, mount the Flash uninstaller and double-click the icon. If you have not quit any web browsers, you'll be warned. 

Enter the administrator password to proceed with the uninstallation of Flash.

Running the Adobe Flash uninstaller on a Mac
Running the Adobe Flash uninstaller on a Mac

Further information regarding the uninstallation of Flash, on different versions of OS X, can be read on Adobe's help page

3. Verify That the Uninstallation is Complete

Restart the Mac, open a web browser and check the status of Flash Player.

Checking the status of Flash on a Mac
Checking the status of Flash, on a Mac

3. How to Uninstall Flash From Linux

Flash Installed From Adobe

  1. Click Applications > System Tools or Accessories to open a Terminal window
  2. In the command line type cd .mozilla/plugins and press Enter
  3. In the command line type rm libflashplayer.so flashplayer.xpt and press Enter to delete the Flash Player plugin files
Navigate to the relevant directory to delete the Flash Plug-in
Navigate to the relevant directory to delete the Flash Plug-in

Ubuntu-Based Distros

  1. Click Applications > System Tools or Accessories to open a Terminal window
  2. In the command line type sudo dpkg --remove flashplugin-installer and press Enter
  3. Enter the administrator password, and press Enter, to authenticate the command
Removing the Flash Player plugin on Ubuntu
Removing the Flash Player plugin on Ubuntu

Debian-Based Distros

  1. Click Applications > System Tools or Accessories to open a Terminal window
  2. In the command line type su -c 'dpkg --remove flashplugin-installer' and press Enter
  3. Enter the administrator password, and press Enter, to authenticate the command

Fedora and Other Red Hat-Based Distros

  1. Click Applications > System Tools or Accessories to open a Terminal window
  2. In the command line type su and press Enter to change to the root user
  3. Enter the administrator password, and press Enter, to authenticate the command
  4. In the command line type rpm -e flash-plugin then press Enter to remove the Flash Player plugin. Press y and Enter if prompted

4. How to Uninstall Flash From Windows

Depending upon the combination of Windows operating system and version of the Internet Explorer web browser, the process for removing Flash Player differs. 

If you need to remove Flash Player from Internet Explorer on Windows, refer to Adobe's Flash uninstall guide for Windows.

5. Check that Flash is Uninstalled

Once uninstalling software, it's often best to reboot the computer. This is especially true of Windows-based systems.

On rebooting, you can readily check whether Adobe Flash is installed by visiting https://www.whatismybrowser.com/is-flash-installed in a web browser.

How to check whether Adobe Flash is installed
How to check whether Adobe Flash is installed

6. Flash and YouTube

Flash is no longer required for YouTube. Since January 2015, YouTube delivers video via HTML5 in supported browsers. If the browser does not use HTML5 video by default, you can request that it does so.

For more information on HTML5 Video Player, on YouTube, 

Conclusion

Flash has been a staple of the web for some 19 years. Technology has moved on; things have changed. For many, Flash has had its day. Given its popularity, it is a popular target for hackers and an increasing number of vulnerabilities are being discovered.

With new technologies, such as HTML5 Video Player, making Flash redundant, it's time to question whether there is still a place for Flash on your computer.

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