Here are some simple steps to fix Shockwave Flash crashes in Google Chrome. The problem occurs when browsing a Flash-based website e.g. Facebook games or YouTube – the Flash plugin crashes with a message saying: “The following plugin has crashed: Shockwave Flash“.
Ignore the reference to Shockwave – the error message means that the Flash Player plugin has crashed – it has nothing to do with Adobe’s Shockwave Player which is a separate program.
What Causes The Crashes? As noted previously in updating Adobe Flash, Google Chrome already includes an integrated version of Flash Player which is automatically updated by Chrome – there is normally no need to download the standalone Adobe Flash Player which is intended for non-IE users.
However, if Firefox or a similar web browser is (or has ever been) installed on your computer, then you have likely also installed the standalone version of Flash for Firefox/Other web browsers – and this would include Chrome.
Updated Feb 2013 – Since the release of new features in Chrome 24, the ‘experimental’ PepperFlash plugin is now the default player for Flash content – there is no longer an integrated Chrome Flash Plugin.
Chrome may therefore have 1 or 2 versions of Flash Player installed – the new PepperFlash plugin and maybe the standalone Adobe version too. Having two versions enabled may cause the error message because they conflict with each other. Some users report audio and video problems with just the PepperFlash plugin too.
To fix the flash crashes, the aim is to disable all except one Flash plugin and retest. Follow these simple steps:
- Open Chrome and type about:plugins into the website address bar at the top then press the ENTER key to display Chrome’s Plugins page.
- Look down the list of Plugins for ‘Flash’ – if it says ‘Flash (2 files)’ you have Adobe and PepperFlash versions of Flash installed. If it says ‘Flash (1 file)’ you only have the default PepperFlash – both cases may cause Chrome to crash when accessing Flash-based websites…
- Click on the ‘+ Details’ link at the top right of the Plugins page to expand the list of all Plugins.
- Scroll down the list to find the Flash plugins – you should now see the full details of the Flash plugins which may display up to two versions of Flash:
- Look at the ‘Location:’ of each version – the PepperFlash version is in (…Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application etc) whilst the standalone Adobe (formerly Macromedia) version is in the …Windows\system32\Macromed\Flash etc directory.
If you have 1 version – PepperFlash:
- Download and save to your computer the latest Adobe standalone version of Flash from Filehippo here (this is the non-IE version).
- Close Chrome and then install this Adobe Flash you just downloaded. At the end of the installation it offers the option of ‘automatic updates’ – highly recommended to keep it up to date in future (see automatic silent updates for details).
- Open Chrome and go back to about:plugins – you should now have 2 plugins (PepperFlash and Adobe).
- Click on ‘Disable’ just under the Location of the PepperFlash version to disable it – it will become greyed out. Ensure that the Adobe version is enabled – if it is disabled (greyed out) click the ‘Enable’ link just under its Location to enable it. Now close the Plugins tab.
If you have 2 versions – PepperFlash and Adobe:
- Click on ‘Disable’ just under the Location of the PepperFlash version to disable it – it will become greyed out.
- Ensure that the Adobe version is enabled – if it is disabled (greyed out) click the ‘Enable’ link just under its Location to enable it. Now close the Plugins tab.
Visit the Adobe Flash Player test page to check that Flash is now properly installed and working ok.
Tip: From version 11.2 onwards, Adobe Flash offers automatic updating – however, it is still worth installing Update Checker to automatically check for new updates as it can check for updates to many other common free programs e.g. Adobe Reader, QuickTime, Java etc.
Other Tips – Updated March 2013
From readers’ comments, the above fix has worked for most but there are many different reasons for Flash crashes in Chrome so, if it doesn’t work for you, here are some further tips that may help:
1. Try the ‘How To Fix It’ steps again but the other way round i.e. this time Enable the integrated PepperFlash and Disable the Adobe version – then test to see if Flash no longer crashes.
2. See if Flash works ok in Incognito mode (click the Wrench/spanner in menu bar and choose ‘New Incognito Window’ to start Incognito Mode). Incognito mode disables all Chrome Extensions – if Flash now works without crashing then one of your Extensions must be causing the problem so, once back in normal Chrome mode, disable your extensions one at a time and test Flash until it stops crashing. The last extension disabled is the one causing the problem – leave it disabled and enable the others again.
3. Disable all Plugins except Flash. If Flash now works without crashing then one of your Plugins must be causing the problem – enable your Plugins one at a time and test Flash until it starts crashing again. The last Plugin enabled is the one causing the problem – disable it and enable the others again.
4. Update yours graphics card drivers (especially if they are old). Driver updates are often released to fix an issue with how Windows or individual programs work with a piece of hardware (e.g. graphics card) or to enable new features for it.
5. Disable Flash hardware acceleration to eliminate hardware or driver compatibility problems with Flash Player – untick ‘Enable Hardware Acceleration’ in the Flash Display panel. To view the Display panel, right click the picture (application image) during playback of a Flash video and, from the context menu, select ‘Settings’. The Display panel is the first panel (tab) shown at the bottom of the Settings window.
6. Test Flash on another browser such as IE or Firefox – if it crashes there too then skip to step 7. If it does not crash there, your version of Chrome may be corrupt. The last resort is to uninstall Chrome and ensure you clear the browsing data during uninstall.
Then, reinstall the latest stable version (currently Chrome 24) and the problem will hopefully be fixed. Remember to backup all your bookmarks/passwords etc BEFORE you uninstall – you could also sign into your Google account and sync settings for use later.
If you do still have problems with Chrome, you may have to wait for a specific fix from Google or Adobe. In the meantime you could use the other browser (e.g. Firefox or IE) if necessary.
7. If the crashes are NOT just in Chrome – see our separate article Flash Crashes in ALL web browsers.