If you are trying to use a site or service that is indicating it needs Flash on your Mac what should you do? In this article we will explain why you need to be cautious about downloading Flash for Mac, where you can safely download Flash Player for Mac, and when Flash is going to be discontinued.
Is it safe to download Flash Player for Mac?
The first thing is to make absolutely sure that the site isn't attempting to get you to download malware. For example, if you are searching for a download of a popular TV show or a movie and you have found a download link that suggests you download Flash first we warn you that it is incredibly likely that this is the means by which malware will be delivered to your Mac!
But what if the site is legitimate - perhaps your child's teacher has indicated that the site should be used for school. While a lot of sites will have moved away from using Flash because Adobe (who makes Flash) has said that it will be ending support for Flash in 2020, many sites that don't have huge development budgets are still relying on it. So assuming that there is no alternative way to view the content, many sites will have transitioned to HTML5 or another way of displaying the same kind of animated content) and having established that you really do need Flash, we will show you how to download the Flash Player from Adobe.
Why do I need to download Flash for Mac?
You are probably used to things just working on your Mac. We rarely need to download anything like drivers or other software (we can even set things up so updates are downloaded automatically). But you may well see an alert indicating that you need to download Flash. Why is that?
Since Safari 10 was introduced with macOS Sierra in 2015, Adobe's Flash Player has been disabled on the Mac by default. This means that from time-to-time, when browsing the web on your Mac, you will see alerts that there is a "Missing Plug-In", or requests that you install the Flash Player.
Flash has been removed by default because Apple doesn't want to leave customers exposed to Flash vulnerabilities. Many of the most prevalent Mac malware right now arrive on your Mac via a fake Flash Player download. Read more about the threat of viruses and malware on the Mac and how to protect yourself here.
Malware is one reason why Flash's days are numbered. Back in April 2010 Steve Jobs penned his "Thoughts on Flash," indicating that solutions like HTML5 were replacing the need for Flash. Ten years late and Adobe has said it will stop updating Flash and it will no longer be available to download. As of 31 December 2020 you won't be able to install Flash on your Mac.
However, for now Apple isn't stopping you from installing Flash on your Mac it's just letting you know when you do need to install it.
You may find that you don't need Flash though. The chances are that you will be able to happily browse the web without installing Flash at all, as the tool has already been assigned to history. As we said above, it is likely that the only sites that require Flash today are old websites that haven't been updated in years. We'd suggest that before you download Flash you look for an alternative website.
There are some older sites and services that still require Flash to run, and you may need to use one of them. If that is the case, we will show you how to install it - and how to make sure that it is safe to do so. If you do want to run Flash content on your Mac you will need to follow the link to Adobe's website and install the latest version of Flash.
Note that even after you have installed Flash on your Mac, it won't necessarily remain there. Flash tends to disappear from your Mac every time you update the Mac operating system, so you may need to install Flash again in the future.
If you have chosen to install Flash in order to view video and other content, and later decided to uninstall it, this article outlines how to uninstall Flash Player on Mac.
With some older websites still using Flash, it may be the case that you need to install the software.
Here’s how to install Flash Player on your Mac:
- Click the Missing Plug-In button.
- Click on Download Flash.
- This will take you to https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ which is a legitimate site – if you ever get taken to a site that is clearly not Adobe be very cautious, it is likely you are being taken to a malicious site.
- Click on Download Now. The download is ~20 MB.
- Wait while the download is initialising.
- You will then see the installer appear in your Downloads folder.
- Double click on the installer.
- Click on Install Adobe Flash Player.
- A window will appear warning you that the app has been downloaded from the internet - this warning appears whenever you download an app from the internet and is designed to protect you from app that might not be legitimate. Since you know that this is a legitimate download from Adobe. Click Open.
- Enter your password.
- Wait for the program to install.
- You will have to close any programs that also require Flash before you can install the update, click Close All.
- Click Continue and wait for Flash Player to install.
- Finally, click Finish.
Why is Flash Player not working?
You may see a warning that you have a "Missing Plug-In", or on older versions of Mac OS X you may see the warning: “Flash out-of-date”. You may also see the alert: "Blocked Plug-in" when attempting to view Flash content in Safari.
Flash Player often stops working on a Mac. This is because Apple will automatically block Flash if the version on your system is out of date. By stopping older versions of Flash from running Apple is able to guard against security vulnerabilities that could allow malware to be delivered to your Mac via Flash Player.
Is Flash Player safe?
Flash has a long history with security vulnerabilities that put users at risk, so we can't really give it the green light. The biggest threats to the Mac come from fake Flash Player downloads. Our advice is to avoid using Flash Player.
Despite this, there are some people who want to use Flash on their Mac, and even the iPad and iPhone, perhaps to allow them to play Flash videos and games. To find out what to do read: How to get Flash on an iPad and iPhone.