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Kicking Flash for good

by Mat on 29 June, 2015 No comments

Adobe Flash is outdated technology.

There, I said it. It’s hard to believe, but here we are today without any real need for plug-ins. It’s the web that many had hoped for; standards and simplicity on all devices. There’s still a long ways to go, but I’ve finally made the switch. You’re probably wondering how to do it, and I’m here to help.

First, I’m going to assume you’re on a Mac and generally use Safari. That said, if you’re on Windows, the same concepts apply.

Now, how am I achieving this wonderful situation of not needing Flash, yet still having it? Three steps.

#1 – Uninstall Flash on the computer
#2 – Make your Mac’s version of Safari identify itself as an iPad
#3 – Use Chrome when necessary

Before I get into how, I should explain the benefits. Sites that rely on Flash to deliver content are also well aware that many of their users look at sites with their tablets. iPads and iPhones don’t have Flash, so they work on a more standards-based approach. It’s often light-weight, faster to load, and has a cleaner, and more responsive layout. The best part is this is great for viewing on your computer, too!

The drawback is simple – some sites really do need Flash. For example, speedtest.net and speakeasy.net have their tests, and they are programmed in Flash. Sometimes videos are Flash-only. It still happens now and again, so we have Chrome on standby. Google Chrome has Flash, but it’s an internal version. This means that when Chrome closes, so does Flash. If you install it as a Safari system plug-in, it isn’t self-contained. Lots of less optimal things.

If you like using Google Chrome, that’s great. Save the trouble; just uninstall Flash and stick to Chrome. Just be aware of how closely Chrome can track you. Search for something on your phone on Google Maps, and get ads on your browser related to that stuff. You’ve been warned.

So, here we go.

First, uninstall Flash. Get the uninstaller. http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/get/flashplayer/current/support/uninstall_flash_player_osx.dmg

Run this, and it will eliminate the plug-in on your machine. Performance improved. Flash content unavailable.

Second, run this in your terminal: defaults write com.apple.Safari CustomUserAgent "\"Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B334b Safari/531.21.10\""

This now makes Safari tell a website “I’m an iPad, so don’t send me Flash content.”

If you ever want to undo this for any reason, put this in your terminal: defaults delete com.apple.safari CustomUserAgent

Now, go to Safari’s preferences menu, go to Advanced, and turn on “Develop Menu”. You’ll notice a simple “Develop” choice. From that new menu, you can select Open Page With > Chrome and you can send the current address over to see it with Flash enabled. You can also select User Agent > Safari to reload the page with the server expecting the “full” desktop browser.

That’s it. You’ll notice Facebook videos load faster, webpages giving you fewer banner ads, and generally your browser will load pages in a snappy, crisp way. The internet wasn’t designed for old plug-ins, so the more we all move away from them, the better the web will get!

Enjoy!

PS – just as a reference, this is not a new concept.

MatKicking Flash for good