Chrome Plugins: Flash. How To Enable & 7 Steps To Fix Crashes 
What it is.
Do you still need the Chrome Flash plugin in 2019?
How to disable it.
How to enable and use the Flash plugin.
How to use Adobe’s Flash Player test page.
How to stop Shockwave Flash crashes in Chrome.
What Is the Adobe Flash Player 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 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: you may see some websites talk about having 2 Flash Player plugins in Chrome – the integrated plugin and a separate standalone one. And they suggest disabling one to stop Flash crashing…
That was true years ago but, 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 I need Shockwave Flash for Google Chrome 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 Player 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) – 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 are aiming to remove it too).
How do I Disable Flash in Chrome?
You used to be able to easily configure plugins like Flash via the
chrome://plugins page but that page was removed from Chrome in 2017 and Flash was moved to Content Settings.
The idea was to help the average user find it – because they may not have known that Flash was actually a plugin.
In 2019 the Flash Player plugin in Chrome already requires your manual intervention to run – it is set to ‘Ask first’ i.e. Flash content on websites will not just play automatically, you have to actively choose to allow it.
However, you can still disable Flash content across all websites if you are sure you never want to be asked to allow it to run:
To disable Flash on all sites
chrome://settings/content/flashinto the address bar and press Enter to visit the Flash settings page
- If Flash is set to ‘Ask first (recommended)’ with a blue button, that is currently (May 2019) the default choice – click on that text (or the blue button) to change it to ‘Block sites from running Flash’ and the button changes to grey, as shown below:
- Flash is now disabled on all websites
Tip: in July 2019 (Chrome 76) Google plan to change the default choice to ‘Block sites from running Flash’ so Flash will be disabled by default for all sites – you will no longer need to disable it yourself.
How do I Enable Flash in Chrome?
Although most large websites have already abandoned Flash, there are still a lot of sites that do use it – so let’s look at how to enable Shockwave Flash in Chrome.
Google are making it increasingly difficult to use Flash in 2019 – you now have to enable it in Chrome on a per website basis, you can’t just enable it globally for all sites…
Also, if you do enable it for a particular site, your choice is only remembered during the current session – the next time you open Chrome your choice disappears so you have to enable Flash for that website again.
This is a pain if you visit a Flash website every day e.g. to play a game, but it’s a sign of how Flash usage is being phased out in Chrome (and most other browsers).
To enable Flash on a website
Visit the website that uses Flash – it may say that you need Flash Player to view it (because Flash is not yet enabled for that site).
Ignore any suggested links to ‘Get Flash’ from Adobe’s website – those links are for the standalone Flash plugin for other browsers like Firefox. Chrome already has its own integrated Flash plugin – you just need to enable it for this site:
1. At the top left of the address bar, click on the padlock icon (if it’s an https site) or on the ! icon (if it’s an http site) to the left of the website address
2. Click on the gear (Site settings) icon as seen below:
3. This opens the Permissions window for this site. Scroll down the list of permissions to ‘Flash’ and change it to ‘Allow’ as shown below:
Now revisit the website and refresh the page (press F5) – you should see the Flash Player content load and play the animated content.
Tip: although your choice is discarded when you next open Chrome, it’s easier to allow it again. After Step 1 you’ll find that Flash is now an option in the notifications area (see picture below) – just set it to ‘Allow’ in the drop down menu there, no need for Step 2 and 3.
[With the quicker menu option, a message bar will appear at the top of the page after you click away – press the Reload button to apply your updated settings and reload the page with Flash content active]
Adobe Flash Player Test Page
If you want to double check that Flash Player is working, and see what version of the plugin you have in Chrome, visit the Adobe Flash Player test page.
Follow Steps 1 to 3 from the section above to enable Flash on the test page and you should see two Flash animations ready to play.
Click the ‘play’ triangle icon of the top one to display the bouncing red square animation that proves the Flash plugin is working. Click the lower ‘play’ triangle icon to reveal which version of the Flash Player plugin is installed in Chrome.
How to stop Shockwave Flash crashes in Chrome
Sometimes the Flash plugin may crash on a website, giving the error message: “The following plugin has crashed: Shockwave Flash“.
Since 2015, Chrome uses only its integrated Flash Player plugin, not a second (optional) standalone plugin installed from Adobe’s website.
In my experience this has greatly reduced the number of Shockwave Flash crashes in Chrome, but they can still happen so here are 7 possible fixes.
Tip: if you’ve seen ‘fixes’ that recommend disabling 1 of the 2 Flash Player plugins in Chrome, that advice has been obsolete since 2015 – there is no second plugin now!
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 May 2019 it’s called ‘FP32 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 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 Shockwave Flash crashes. 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 – look for an alternative if necessary.
5. Disable hardware acceleration
Try this 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 on another 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/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 to play Flash content without it crashing.