Flash is the most well known of all Chrome plugins – its full name is Shockwave Flash.
You can skip straight to the 7 steps to fix Flash in the Contents list below if you prefer.
But first I’ll review the following:
- What Is the Shockwave Flash Chrome Plugin?
- Do You Still Need Flash in 2019?
- 7 Steps To Fix Flash Not Working In Chrome
What Is the Shockwave Flash Chrome Plugin?
Flash Player is free software by Adobe (of Photoshop fame) for viewing video and audio files created on the Adobe Flash platform – such files are in the SWF format (short for ShockWave Flash).
Adobe Flash Player runs within Google Chrome as a plugin – it is now the last remaining plugin (module developed by a third party) in Chrome.
This plugin is part of Chrome – you do not need to install a separate Flash Player plugin (as you do for some web browsers like Firefox).
Note: some websites give outdated ‘help’ about having 2 Flash plugins – the integrated one and a separate standalone plugin. They suggest disabling one to stop the other crashing – ignore them, that hasn’t been true for 4 years…
In fact, since 2015, Chrome only uses the integrated plugin – even if you install standalone Flash plugins for other browsers, they will not be used by Chrome.
Do You Still Need Flash in 2019?
A decade ago Shockwave Flash was still very widely used by websites to display videos and games – as late as 2013 Adobe reported that over 1 billion PCs had Flash Player installed to play, for example, Facebook games and YouTube videos.
But, as a closed (proprietary) standard, Flash always had its critics – it acquired an unwanted reputation for security vulnerabilities, crashes and poor performance.
Perhaps its biggest setback was the infamous ‘Thoughts on Flash’ letter by Steve Jobs in 2010 where he criticized it for poor security and banned Flash Player from iOS products such as the iPad and iPhone.
With hindsight, that decision by Apple, to disallow Flash on the most popular phones and tablets in history, was the beginning of a protracted end for Flash Player…
In recent years, Flash Player usage has been in terminal decline – websites have increasingly switched over to newer and more powerful open standards such as HTML5. A W3Techs report shows that Flash was used by 28.5% of websites back in 2011 – that has gone down to just 3.5% in 2019.
In 2017, Adobe announced that it will “stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020”.
Google will remove Flash from Chrome completely in December 2020 (Chrome 87) – so if you want to run Flash in 2021 you’ll need to find another browser that still supports it (difficult as all other major browsers aim to remove it then too).
If you prefer to just disable it now, see my guide on how to disable Flash in Chrome.
7 Steps To Fix Flash Not Working In Chrome
Sometimes Flash may stop working on a webpage, giving the error message: “The following plugin has crashed: Shockwave Flash“.
Since 2015, Chrome uses only its integrated Flash plugin – in my experience this has greatly reduced the number of Flash crashes in Chrome, but they can still happen so here are 7 steps to try to fix it.
Tip: if you see ‘fixes’ that recommend disabling 1 of the 2 Shockwave Flash plugins in Chrome, that advice is obsolete – there is no second plugin.
1. Update the Adobe Flash Player Plugin
The plugin is automatically updated by Chrome so, as long as you have the latest version of Chrome, you should always have the latest version of the plugin too. But you can check this in Chrome Components:
chrome://componentsinto the address bar and press Enter to visit the Chrome Components page
- Scroll down to ‘Adobe Flash Player’ and click on its ‘Check for update’ button
- If you see “Component not updated” you already had the latest version – skip to the next fix
- If you see “Component updated” you now have the latest version – try playing Flash content again and see if it no longer crashes
2. Update Chrome
- Click the 3 dots / Settings icon at the top right of Chrome
- If you do not see an ‘Update Google Chrome’ button, you’re already using the latest version – skip to the next fix
- If you do see an ‘Update Google Chrome’ button, click it to update and then press Relaunch when it has finished – try playing Flash content again and see if it no longer crashes
3. Reinstall the Flash Plugin
- Visit the Adobe website and select your Operating System in step 1
- In Step 2, select the PPAPI plugin (as at August 2019 it’s called ‘FP 32 for Opera and Chromium – PPAPI’
- Un-tick all the Optional offers then click the ‘Download Now’ button and follow the instructions to save the Flash Player plugin installer file to your computer
- Close Chrome and then run the installer file you just downloaded e.g. “flashplayer32pp_xa_install.exe” and complete the installation
- After it is installed, open Chrome again – if you still get Shockwave Flash plugin crashes then move to the next fix
4. Test in a New Incognito Window (Private Browsing)
Sometimes a misbehaving (or conflicting) Chrome extension can cause Flash to stop working. If you have lots of extensions installed, the quickest way to test this is to open a new Incognito window – this disables all extensions:
- Click the 3 dots / Settings icon at the top right of Chrome then select ‘New incognito window’
- In that new window, browse to the webpage that crashes, enable Flash on that website and see if Flash content now plays ok
- If Flash still crashes then an extension is not the problem – skip to the next fix
- If Flash does not crash in an Incognito window (after repeated tests, and trying different Flash pages) then one of your extensions is to blame:
Close the Incognito window. In normal Chrome, type
chrome://extensions/into the address bar and press Enter to display all your extensions.
Disable one of your extensions (by clicking the blue button to turn it grey) and then try playing Flash content again.
Repeat this process until Flash stops crashing – at that point, the last extension you disabled is most likely the one that was causing the problem – leave it disabled and enable the others again.
Once certain that the Flash plugin no longer crashes, go back to the Extensions page and click to ‘Remove’ the bad extension – search for an alternative extension if necessary.
5. Disable Hardware Acceleration
The aim of this step is to eliminate graphics card hardware or driver compatibility problems with the Flash Player plugin:
chrome://settings/systeminto the address bar and press Enter to display the System settings
- Click on ‘Use hardware acceleration when available’ to disable it (turns the blue button to grey) then click on ‘Relaunch’ to restart Chrome, as seen below
- Try playing Flash content again and see if it stops crashing
Tip: if ‘Use hardware acceleration when available’ was already disabled, try enabling it instead – in theory, hardware acceleration is a good thing as it offloads the most intensive work to your graphics card, reducing the load on your CPU, RAM and cache which may be struggling with Flash content.
6. Update Graphics Card Drivers
Always worth a try, especially if your drivers are old. Driver updates for graphics cards are often released to fix an issue with how Windows or individual programs work with it, or to enable new features for it.
7. Test Flash in a Different Browser
Reaching the end of the road now… Try playing Flash content on a different web browser like Internet Explorer (included in all versions of Windows) or install a new browser like Firefox (you’d also need to install the separate Flash Player plugin for Firefox from Adobe).
If Flash content crashes in all web browsers, see my separate troubleshooting tips.
If Flash content does not crash in a different browser, your version of Chrome may be corrupt. The last resort is to uninstall Chrome and ensure you clear all browsing data during uninstall.
Then download and install the latest Chrome version – the problem will hopefully be fixed. Remember to backup all your bookmarks and passwords etc BEFORE you uninstall – or sign into your Google account and Sync all your settings for later.
If you do still have crashes in Chrome, even after reinstalling, there is unlikely to be a fix from Google or Adobe anytime soon – considering that both are in the process of phasing out Flash usage completely…
So you will likely have to keep using the other web browser if Flash is not working in Chrome.