Dealing with Adobe Flash Player

I woke up to the news of yet another Adobe Flash Player security concern. The article is on the Mac Observer web site.

So, just what is Flash? According to
Adobe:

Adobe Flash Player is the standard for delivering high-impact, rich Web content. Designs, animation, and application user interfaces are deployed immediately across all browsers and platforms, attracting and engaging users with a rich Web experience

According to
Wikipedia:

Adobe Flash (formerly called "Macromedia Flash") is a multimedia and software platform used for authoring of vector graphics, animation, games and rich Internet applications (RIAs) that can be viewed, played and executed in Adobe Flash Player. Flash is frequently used to add streamed video or audio players, advertisement and interactive multimedia content to web pages, although usage of Flash on websites is declining.

Steve Jobs had
very strong feelings about Flash and refused to incorporate it into iOS, the operating system for Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

Flash works on Macintosh computers, but in my experience, it is more of a curse that a feature. In fact, it is usually to blame for many of my computer headaches. I decided to strictly control it several years ago and I could not be happier! The problem with Flash is that it just doesn’t know when to stop! Flash is an Internet browser extension. If it is used on a web site, Flash Player starts up and it does not turn itself off until you quit the browser (think Safari, Firefox, Chrome etc.) While it runs in the background it continues to demand RAM from your computer and it slows down the processor, making your computer run slower--and slower--and slower. Soon you begin to see spinning beach balls each time you try to click a link or even use a different application.

There are ways to limit the effects of Flash on your computer. I use
ClickToFlash, a Safari Browser Extension. It prevents Flash content from loading automatically. When I encounter Flash content, I see this:

no_flash

If I click the Flash button the content for the clicked box shows. When I leave the webpage, ClickToFlash turns the Flash player off. It doesn’t turn on again until I click another Flash box.

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 9.36.10 AM

When you go to the
web page for ClickToFlash, there are download links for both ClickToFlash and the ClickToPlugin. Today we are only going to deal with ClickToFlash. When you click the link, this is downloaded to your Download folder:

clicktoflash

Double click on it and this will appear:

clicktoflash_install

Click the Install button and a web page will appear where you can choose just what the ClickToPlugin will do:

safari_extension

In general, you can ignore this for the moment. An easier way to learn about ClickToFlash is to go back to the webpage. If you want to get it back, the easiest way is to open Safari Preferences.

safari_preferences

Make sure you have selected Extension at the top and ClickToFlash in the left column. Click the link to Marc Hovis to get back to his web page for explanations and instructions. You will make any changes by clicking on “Click this checkbox to access the settings.

safari_extensions

In general, the defaults work well, but if you want to tune it more finely, there are lots of choices.

In tomorrow’s article, we’ll look at just how to install Flash updates. You would think it would be easy, but through experience, I know that about 75% of our clients don’t manage to install all those Adobe Flash Player updates!

--Pat
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