Why won’t Flash work, even though it’s installed?

Adobe Flash is a nearly ubiquitous tool for displaying video on the web. You must install it, of course, but often that's not enough.

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How to I turn on Flash Player? When I go to the download site for Adobe the banner says that I have flash installed. Then I go to a website that I know has flash and it says “This site requires that you have flash player.” I have already tried re-formatting to no help.

Wow. Reformatting sure seems like overkill for a problem like this. Reformatting’s a pretty major step, and not something I’d recommend without investigating things deeply.

I’m not sure what might be the problem in your specific case, but I can tell you this: there’s at least one excruciatingly simple reason that Flash might not show up on many web sites, even though you’ve installed it.

In a word: JavaScript.

What most sites don’t tell you is that yes, you need Flash installed, but you also need JavaScript enabled. This might not be true for all sites, but it’s certainly true for the vast majority using Flash that I visit.

In my case, I run the FireFox extension “NoScript” which disables Javascript on all sites, except for those that I explicitly allow. So each time I visit a new site that uses Flash, I get the message “You must install Flash”, when in fact all I need to do is tell NoScript to enable Javascript. Doing that the page and Flash video work just fine.

In most cases, Javascript is enabled by default. But just in case, let’s review how you turn on Javascript in IE7 and in FireFox.

Enabling Javascript in IE7

On the Tools menu, click Internet Options, and then click on the Security tab. This dialog should result:
Internet Options Dialog, Security Tab

Click on Custom Level…. In the resulting dialog scroll down until you see Active Scripting:

Security Settings highlighting Active Scripting option

Make sure that Active Scripting is set to Enable.

Enabling Javascript in FireFox

Click on the Tools menu, and then the Options menu item. Click on the Content tab and you should see something similar to this:

Firefox content options highlighting the Javascript option

Make sure that Enable Javascript is checked.

Risks?

In my opinion, Javascript is not risky, unless you’re regularly visiting risky or questionable sites, so I typically recommend people go ahead and run with it enabled. However, we’ve even recently seen a theoretical scary vulnerability in most routers that could be exploited via some malicious Javascript, so I might consider rethinking that stand.

As I mentioned above, I recently started using NoScript, an extension for the FireFox browser which makes managing Javascript on a per-site basis a snap. Javascript is disabled on all sites except those you specifically allow. When you visit a site, you can quickly and easily add it to the allow list or return it to the block list with just a couple of clicks.

You can do roughly the same in Internet Explorer by adding sites to the “Trusted Sites” list, but the advantage of NoScript is simply ease of use. Literally a couple of clicks to add or remove a site from block list, and you’re on your way.

There are 63 comments:

  1. Jeff Reply

    Flash stopped working for me in IE6 as soon as I tried updating to the most recent version of Flash. Even after running the uninstall program Adobe advises (this is a known issue to Adobe), no help. Things are fine in FireFox 1.5, but NG in IE6. I did some research and learned(?) that I probably have to tweek my Windows registry. No thanks. If you could find the solution for this NON-JavaScript-related cause, I’d be much obliged.

  2. Michael Horowitz Reply

    If you suspect that the absence of JavaScript is what is causing Flash to incorrectly seem to be missing, then this Flash “tester” page works both with and without JavaScript enabled.
    http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/about/
    The resulting page varies, depending on the presence or absence of JavaScript, but the Version Information box seems to be correct no matter what.

  3. Diane Bradford Reply

    Leo, you are the best! I am so happy you have this website……What a Sweetheart you are!! to provide this information………Thank you Leo…so very much.

    Bless you and your family from mine…Diane Bradford
    [email address removed]

  4. Terry Hollett Reply

    Had a similar problem with both Mozilla Suite and the Opera browser. Sovled the problem by running it in ‘compatability’ mode:

    Find the shortcut that starts your browser, in my case, Mozilla Suite 1.7.12, and the shortcut is on my ‘Quick Launch’ bar.
    right-click on the shortcut
    click on properties
    click on the ‘Compatibility’ tab
    check the box that says: “Run this program in compatibility mode for:”
    click on the little arrow where it says ‘Windows 95′
    and change it by clicking on ‘Windows 2000′
    click on ‘Apply’ and then ‘OK’

    Also works with Opera.

    http://www.geocities.com/terryhollett2003/shock.html

  5. Anthony Brunetti Reply

    Leo, Baby!
    The “skin” you use in your FireFox browser (at least in this posting above) looks awesome. i have gone through the options for a different look of my browser, but did not find anything that looked like what you have. Can you tell me the “name” and where you got this “skin”?

  6. Anthony Brunetti Reply

    your hyperlink to NoScript does not work: Page Not Found

    I’m sorry, but I couldn’t find the page you requested:

    /noscript

    I will google it for another reference.

  7. John Stockell Reply

    I clicked on your Firefox link to see and got this:
    HTTP Status 500 –

    ——————————————————————————–

    type Exception report

    message

    description The server encountered an internal error () that prevented it from fulfilling this request.

    exception

    java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: URLDecoder: Illegal hex characters in escape (%) pattern – For input string: “uF”
    java.net.URLDecoder.decode(URLDecoder.java:173)
    java.net.URLDecoder.decode(URLDecoder.java:83)
    com.kona.redirectengine.decode.Decoder.decode(Decoder.java:188)
    com.kona.redirectengine.RedirectServlet.doAction(RedirectServlet.java:279)
    com.kona.redirectengine.RedirectServlet.doGet(RedirectServlet.java:245)
    javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet.service(HttpServlet.java:689)
    javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet.service(HttpServlet.java:802)

    note The full stack trace of the root cause is available in the Apache Tomcat/5.5.20 logs.

    ——————————————————————————–
    Whats going on here?

  8. James Reply

    Have followed advice on ensuring the activex options are set correctly (they were). Have uninstalled/re-installed Flash more times that i can count, followed some advice to delete some preferences against Macromed set in the registry…etc etc etc but am still unable to get it to work through either IE 7 or FF2.0…help!!… it’s been driving me crazy for months.

  9. Gerold_Becker Reply

    I’ve had this prolem with youtube. Apparently the problem (in this case) is with the website not recognising the latest (Flash)install/update. I fixed my problem by downloading the latest ‘full’ Flashplayer from http://www.softwarepatch.com/internet/flash.html

    Hope it works for you too.

    Leo I recently discovered your site and I love it,
    greetings from The Netherlands.

  10. alan Reply

    leo the site is great but i’m still having problems with javascript, i have enabled it in the settings for ie7 as described but the website i go on says it is not enabled. help please

  11. JBATES Reply

    I have a problem and hope you can help. I ran Norton Antivirus live update on my son’s laptop.
    Now he is unable to open email in Outlook. I got a browser error message that said to enable Java scripting and applets and cookies, which I did. No sucess, it still doesnt work. Any suggestions?
    thank you

  12. - Reply

    This didnt help me much.i had the same problem and added this and asbsolutely nothing still………

  13. nate Reply

    I tried what you said, and had no luck. I was able to use flash n’ everything before when I got my computer a few months ago. But recently it’s like it dissapeared, and I tried installing it a billion times, and got nowhere. I heard about AVG affecting it, but i don’t have AVG installed either. What do i do, it’s driving me NUTS!

  14. ricardo Reply

    hey i have done the thing with the enable the Active Scripting but it still does not work. What is the problem i keep getting the same “You either have javascript turned off or you dont have the latest flash player” Help please

  15. Steven Reply

    Finally, I found advice that really worked. It may have been a combination of steps. I (1) followed Leo’s advice about enabling Java Script, then (2) used the download from this site: http://www.softwarepatch.com/internet/flash.html. After a reboot, a website that had been driving me nuts played just great. Thanks for having this advice!

  16. Steve Showalter Reply

    I am able to have flash videos work in dreamweaver preview for flv and swf and once uploaded niether is visible, I am able to get QT to run
    any ideas?
    thanks Steve

  17. Izzy Reply

    This was very useful but did not help me. Flash used to work on my computer but has now stopped and won’t download properly or work. Have you got any ideas as to how I could dowload Flash successfully again?

  18. matt Reply

    For Mr. Showalter and others who’ve seen this without resolve, I happened upon yet another SIMPLE solution. Adobe recommends that you uninstall older versions of Flash Player, a tact I had not taken in previous upgrades. But, after the most recent upgrade wouldn’t kick in, an uninstall and reinstall of the current version did the trick.

  19. Bas Reply

    Thanks for pointing out it was about the Noscript add-on I installed with firefox3. That was exactly what i was looking for, now flash works again.

  20. tim Reply

    yo, I had an earlyer version, it worked then it stoped and I was informed I need version 9 or greater, so went to ze site and clicked “agree and install” and nothing happend, my bar did not respond(lol) nothing. I’m running vista but if I changed the version I was after to win98 I could download, yet this achieved nada. I tried the uninstall aproach, but still no respons at the download site and now I’ve tried this and yet again failure.. I am currently waiting for the download from the link and its at 79% so you’re gonna have to wait a minute…92% man I hate dial up, dam it that link has expired and it takes you to this driver cure thing that does the ol “I’ll scan ya computer, tell ya whats wrong and asked to be registerd before I fix it. I have got no idea, and from what I’ve it seems there are a few different problems mainly with windows.

  21. tim Reply

    I’m back, and kinda succesfull, I went back to the site and downloaded version 9 http://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/downloads.html saving to the desktop,closed all my browsers then uninstalled flash ver? using the flash uninstaller, I cant remember where i got that so use google or something, opend C:WINDOWSsystem32MacromedFlash and dragged the remaining content (install.txt) to the desktop !I did not delete it! then I ran flash player_9_ax_debug (flash ver9) and kept the folder open and watched it install 4 files. I tested it, works fine Highly recomended.

  22. Lak Kader Reply

    Greetings,
    I re-installed AFP and made sure JS was enabled.
    But I still get a message when I visit a flash site saying I need to enable JS?
    Please advise.

  23. Isabella Reply

    Thank you Tim. I followwed the steps but when I get to
    C:WINDOWSsystem32, I do not have MacromedFlash… And I looked everywhere!

    So I am stucked right now…

    Tks and any help would be greatly appreciated : )

    I’m back, and kinda succesfull, I went back to the site and downloaded version 9 http://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/downloads.html saving to the desktop,closed all my browsers then uninstalled flash ver? using the flash uninstaller, I cant remember where i got that so use google or something, opend C:WINDOWSsystem32MacromedFlash and dragged the remaining content (install.txt) to the desktop !I did not delete it! then I ran flash player_9_ax_debug (flash ver9) and kept the folder open and watched it install 4 files. I tested it, works fine Highly recomended.

    Posted by: tim at January 19, 2009 3:40 PM
    in regard to my last comment… you can download the uninstaller here cya.

    http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/viewContent.do?externalId=tn_14157&sliceId=1

  24. frustrated Reply

    I have been having this prob. for over 2 months too. I was able to fix it by going to IE/tools/manage add-ons, enable shockwave. Couldn’t believe that fixed it. But first, I uninstalled the program using revouninstall [broken link removed] and rebooted. But u may not have to do all that, just try enabling shockwave first.

  25. yasmin Reply

    ive done what you said, and when i checked everything was on already and i still get the message, can anyone help me as its really fustrating :(

  26. Curtis Spell Reply

    Tried all recommended in this article. Nothing worked. Even downloaded Firefox. Flash would not work thee either. I’m completely baffeled.

  27. Connie Reply

    I read your article but it won’t work for me. I have not been able to see movies because of IE 7 & 8. I have to view them in Firefox. Everything that is suppossed to be installed is installed. Java, Adobe flash etc. The browser will not let Adobe flash go on. When I install it the browser blocks the final installation where you can see that it is installed. I am using Windows 7 now and I still cannot view these things. There are little red X in the boxes for videos or what ever. I already had my settings as you suggested to enable scripting nothing seems to work. Please help. Thanks

  28. Connie Reply

    The link “Posted by: Gerold_Becker at March 28, 2007 3:47 AM ” gave on page 2 is bogus. You have download the software. It is not a patch. It scans your computer, tell you that you have 300+ error that need fixing and if you click to fix it won’t fix the problem unless you buy the software, what a scam.

  29. Mark Reply

    Are you running a 64 bit browser? Flash does NOT support 64 bit. Adobe is waaaayyyyy behind the 64 bit curve. Flash will only work in a 32 bit browser. I just don’t bother with flash websites since they haven’t bothered to stay current with technology.

  30. chelsea Reply

    ok farmville was working yesterday for me, then today when i installed adobe, i tried playing it and it said i ahd to instill flash so i did, and its still not working ! i use IE7 on a 32bit vista home premium upgrade ! but as i said, it was working fine untill i installed adobe !! but for some reason farmville works on mozilla fox ! and i tried the techniques shown above and it don’t work, maybe if i restart my comouter it will ! any suggestions will be considered, if i dont figure it out by then !

  31. chelsea Reply

    never mind figured it out, it wasnt working cuz i did not install google toolbar as well…..dang rodders !

  32. Travis McLay Reply

    a month ago a bought a new laptop and everything was working fine until one night last week my adobe flash player quit working i have tried to uninstall amd reinstall and nothing works.im feeling very frustrated about this and need help thankyou.

  33. John Reply

    I have had the same problem for 18 months also, I just gave up using Myspace in the end!! Flash seems to work, it is installed and I can see the latest version etc.. but it is not recognosied by the BBC iplayer website, it asks to reinstall. At myspace it just appears as a blank, it is there but it does not function. Really, I just can’t wait until everything is available on something like an iPad and I will abandon 20 years of PC computing as quickly as possible. Companies such as Microsoft, Adobe et. al should realise that they have screwed themselves due to not cooperating on standards, if they leave users like me in this state for this long and there is no solution why would I ever want to buy a PC again? After all, 99% of use is just browsing, watching videos online for users like me.. it shouldn’t be this difficult! : )

  34. Kaz Reply

    After trying all the options I found on the net and flashplayer still failing to work after an adobe update, I fixed it!
    Nothing expensive, no extra programmes. I removed SP3 (which I hadn’t knowingly downloaded specifically) using add remove programs and reloaded all the security updates.
    Phew.

  35. Samantha Reply

    I have Javascript enabled on Vista 32 using Firefox. Farmtown will not work, ebay photo uploader will not work, nothing. Have tried downloading and installing flash lastest version twice..not a peep from the usual sites that were working up until the new version was required..??

  36. Terri Reply

    I still can’t get flash to work – I’ve installed and reinstalled and it doesn’t show up in my list of programs and when I try to run a msn game I get a dialog box saying that I don’t have the current version and go to url which is not found!

  37. Cyndi Reply

    I have struggled with this problem for months, and today I finally found the answer. It’s the VPN. I have uninstalled flash, rebooted and reinstalled flash a hundred times, and while flash would work for a little while, it would inevitably stop working. Today, I disconnected the VPN connection and without doing anything else, at all, flash started working. Youtube vids showed up, photobucket images showed up, and the ONLY difference was being connected to the VPN. I tested and retested. VPN connected? No Flash. VPN disconnected? Flash on.

    Hope this helps someone else!

  38. Ally Reply

    I have installed Adobe Flash Player 5 times and it still doesn’t work!!!!!!!! I can’t watch youtube, go on facebook or other!! It says that it did install, but whenever I go on to youtube, it says “Please install Adobe Flash player” when i already did!!! HELP ME!!!

  39. diana sherrell Reply

    i followed above instructions to get my adobe reader 8.2.0 to function but the java script was already active , what do i do next ? i have an idea to erase it start over i tryed but i am not sur where to go for sure to do it i thought i erased it but after my 3rd try to down load it it aborted because it recognized i already had it in my system ….What is going on ? Diana

  40. Phil Edon Reply

    I’ve used most of the solutions here to solve the Flash install problem. One solution I’ve found is for when people have inadvertantly used a third party ‘cleanup’ utility. In IE: go to the tools menu and select the ‘Manage addons’ or ‘Enable/Disable Addon’ . You’d be suprised how often I’ve found the flash addon disabled.
    Simple I know, but it happens.

  41. jeanette Reply

    I had the same problem and tried every solution until i read Phil Edons comment, my problem was solve. Went to the Tools menu, click manage addons and enabled the adobe flash and problem solve. Hope it helps.

  42. Ken Reply

    I have the same problem–when i go to the manage add ons it does not show flash
    even though i have down loaded

  43. Zack Reply

    I have uninstalled and reinstalled Flash. I have checked the plugins (javascript is enabled). flash is enabled. Still one site only will not load. Every other site is fine and on other computers this particular site will load just fine… can other browsers settings affect a another browser?, and can sandboxing pose as an issue?

  44. Badger Reply

    I appreciate the time and effort but it didn’t help anything. :(

  45. Lashune Reply

    Hi Jack,
    I had the same problem and I tried almost everything. Today I found what was missing. You have to enable shockwave, one click and magic, I can now see You Tube and Hulu.
    Here are the instructions:
    In Internet Explorer, ensure the Flash Player add-on is enabled
    If you are using Internet Explorer, Flash Player is installed as an Internet Explorer add-on. To make sure the Flash Player add-on is enabled, do the following:

    1.In the Internet Explorer menu, select Tools > Manage Add-ons….
    2.Select Shockwave Flash Object in the list of add-ons. (If you do not see Shockwave Flash Object in the list, then Flash Player is not installed for Internet Explorer.)

    Internet Explorer 6 and 7 Manage Add-ons dialog box

    Internet Explorer 8 Manage Add-ons dialog box

    3.If the status is Enabled, then the Flash Player add-on is enabled. Close the dialog box.
    4.If the status is Disabled, select the Enable. Close the dialog box.
    I didn’t even have to reboot. Hope this help.

  46. Manna Reply

    Dear Lashune,
    You’re great. I spent 4 hours trying to fix my internet explorer so it would work again with flash player, Downloaded it, uninstalled it, redownloaded, you get the idea.
    I followed everything you said to try and It works now! Thank you so so so so so much. I had updated my windows earlier in the evening and it disabled the add-ons. All I had to do was enable the shockwave flash object and everything worked perfect again. Thank you so much for posting!

  47. Nancy Reply

    Your instructions for Jack helped me! Thank you so much! I’ve been without Flash Player for several months!

  48. Dawn Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks Lashune, followed Jacks instructions but didnt work, then tried yours and ‘bingo’. been trying to solve it for weeks.

  49. Anna Reply

    Hi, I have a problem with LIVESTRAM on one particular site.
    I have IE8 and Windows SP3 and the most recent adobe flash-player.
    Flashplayer still works fine on youtube and also on some other livestream sites, but not on that one certain livestream-site, where it used to work just fine before and where I would love to get back to again. It`s been 8weeks now, aproximately, since I can not watch it online there anymore.
    All of a sudden and for aparently no reason,
    it didn`t show off the screen there anymore, instead it keeps telling me, that I will have to install adobe flash player….. ;-/
    I tried everythingto make it work again, uninstalled everything and reinstalled it,
    but that particular livestream just won`t work.
    No one seems to know advice naymore….;-(
    I also checked the add-ons, like you wrote here before, they`re all enabled,
    also shockwave and so forth.
    I even called up that live-stream-site,
    but they told me, that they hadn`t change anything there on that site….hhmmmm….
    Can anybody help me? Thanx a lot already, Anna

  50. Erin Reply

    Thank you sooooo much Lashune! I’ve been trying to do a university assignment all day and have not been able to get an application to run due to this problem! I have been so ridiculously stressed, thank you again I can now relax and start working on it! A few hours behind but at least I can get it done now! :)

  51. Kevin Reply

    I was hoping there would be a secondary solution for what happens if Adobe Flash continues to not work even after enabling javascript on IE.

  52. Clint Reply

    Internet Explorer 9 has an issue with this as well, if enabling javscript and ensuring flash is enabled it still doesn’t work, go to programs and files in control panel, check to view updates, find internet explorer 9 in the list (under windows updates) and uninstall it – this will revert to internet explorer 8 and it should work.

  53. Angela Austin Reply

    I keep downloading Flash Player but it won’t recognise that I have downloaded it? I have done the Enable Scripting function, but I don’t have a tickbox for Javascript?

    I assume by “download” you mean “download and install it”. To do more you’d need to share what browser you use, what version of Windows and so on. One thing to do might be to clear your browser cache: What’s a browser cache, how do I “clear” it, and why would I want to?

    Leo
    18-Dec-2011
  54. Duck Reply

    How come when I try to install adobe flash player, a screen appears announcing that I have completed the installation. But when I try to search for adobe flash player, it doesn’t exist on my laptop?

    It depends on exactly what you are searching for and how. I wouldn’t know offhand exactly what to search for, and simply rely on my browser’s ability to run Flash content to tell me that it’s installed and working.

    Leo
    28-May-2012
  55. Ellery King Reply

    I found that all I had to do to get it to work was to NOT install Real Player and Real Downloader. Once I removed those plugins from Firefox by uninstalling them, Flash worked perfectly. You can’t download YouTube videos in Firefox unless you re-install those programs, opt out of installing the plugins into Firefox, and just use IE if you want to download videos.

  56. Gabriele Reply

    I was having the same trouble with flash player until I installed adobe shockwave, didn’t see the red bar “download flash player on youtube” anymore.

  57. Larry Z Reply

    In other posts, they mention the compatability view as a possible solution. I have IE 9 and am using Windows 7. Next to the compatability view is tracking protection. Some of the web sites would play the flash player properly, but other wouldn’t. For those sites that didn’t play properly, I turned tracking protection off and then it worked.

  58. Alia Reply

    After weeks of not being able to use javascript or flash, and not being able to see or hear videos on BBC website I managed to solve the problem quite easily. I had installed flash and java 6 times without any luck. I went into tools and simply removed the tick next to ActiveX filtering, which I found out later my 7 year old son had accidentally ticked. Everything is now working fine. So simple and easy.

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