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Very happy I disabled Adobe/Macromedia Flash on my Macs

A few weeks ago I decided to disable Adobe/Macromedia Flash on all my Macintosh computers. I am here to tell you I do NOT regret it at all, and now recommend it highly.

Flash was an extremely useful extension for many years; it made it possible to view videos on the web without specialized software or downloading the video file and playing it in your own media player. It also allowed some very interactive content (much like Javascript).

Sadly, like many good things, it has been horribly abused. The very same features that improve interactivity also make it extremely vulnerable to exploitation my malicious programmers. The same features that let it play videos in your browser, also means that Flash has to burn a lot of processor cycles, memory, and battery power.

HTML5 makes Flash unnecessary by duplicating it’s video and interactivity features in a standards compliant and open to scrutiny way. HTML5 is also optimized to run in very little memory and require very few resources. Most importantly, HTML5 videos close all needed resources once the video is done (freeing your computer up to do other things).

When I ran across John Gruber’s instructions for how to disable Flash, but have it when I needed it occasionally, I decided to try it out.

Going Flash-Free on Mac OS X, and How to Cheat When You Need It

On Mac OS X, the three main browsers (Firefix, Safari, and Camino) all share the same OS based Flash infrastructure. By simply moving that aside, all three browsers no longer have access to Flash at all (you also have to move aside ClickToFlash extension if you have been using that to filter your Flash; which was my previous recommendation).

I can still watch YouTube videos by using Safari and setting the Develop/User Agent menu to “Mobile Safari 3.2.2 – iPad” (that forces YouTube to send HTML5 video as it makes YouTube think you are on an iPad and cannot even download Flash player to install on your Mac).

For the few work related Flash interactivity needs I have, I also downloaded the Google Chrome browser which has it’s own Flash player functionality not built into the OS (this is important, as whenever Flash starts hogging your computer, you can simply quit Chrome and end all Flash activity).

The benefits have been unbelievable!
My battery life on my laptop is very nearly DOUBLED!!!!

Allow me to repeat that. My laptops now enjoy nearly 10 hours of battery life for normal use by me (previously I was getting 4.5 – 5.5 hours). Yes – DOUBLED!

I am no longer sharing CPU resources and memory with dozens of badly coded Flash objects that would hang around even after I shutdown Firefox or Safari; so my laptop seems faster.

I am no longer vulnerable to Flash cookie tracking, nor a dozen well know Flash security hacks.

I am thrilled to recommend that you all turn off Flash for good and enjoy your laptop focused on what you want it to be focused on from now on.

Synopsis:

  • Move Flash, Shockwave, and ClickToFlash out of /Library/Internet Plug-Ins to a new folder called Internet Plug-Ins (disabled) (/Library, ~/Library for each user on each computer).
  • Install Google Chrome web browser (just in case you occasionally need Flash again).
  • Install YouTube5 Safari Extension 2 (for each user on each computer).
  • Enable the Developer features on Safari.
  • Reboot to rid yourself of any currently running Flash crap.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Sandro Fouche | January 5, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love not having flash installed on my machine, although I didn’t know about that Safari extension. Now I don’t need to resort to Chrome as often.

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