Browser Tip: Blocking Flash in Chrome

I’m cuckoo for Chrome. It’s super fast, it’s Webkit, it’s got some nice developer tool options that aren’t available in Safari and it’s combo Search Box/Address Box is so intuitive it’s completely ruined me for any other browsers that still split up those two elements.

The only thing really keeping me from moving over to Chrome full-time at this point is my reliance on Safari for ClickToFlash. Luckily, the newest Dev build of Chrome released yesterday enables support for extensions so closing this gap should now be easier than ever.

If you’re not familiar with ClickToFlash, it’s a Webkit plug-in that replaces all flash elements on a web page with a nice nondescript gray gradient and a little Flash logo.

To view the blocked Flash you just click the logo and the browser loads it in. This has a number of benefits, not the least of which are that since the flash won’t be loaded until you ask for it page load times won’t grind to a crawl, your CPU usage won’t spike, and you won’t be forced to look annoying home mortgage ads when all you do is rent.

The easiest way to replicate this bit of functionality in Chrome (now that the latest Dev build supports it) is to just grab an extension. A quick search through the extensions gallery surfaces a number of possible options to choose from.

  • FlashBlock (by Josorek) offers the most configurability with options for managing a whitelist of sites, blocking not only Flash but Silverlight as well, and customizing the look and placement of the placeholder icon.
  • Kill-Flash is based on a Jetpack port of ClickToFlash and so it looks a lot like what I’m used to seeing in Safari. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t seem to work as well as it’s pedigree might suggest. By default the extension has whitelisted some sites such as YouTube and Gmail but left out any options for the user to manage the list.
  • Another FlashBlock (this time by Ruzanow) works well enough but provides less configuration options than its identically named competitor. This flavor of FlashBlock blocks both Flash and Silverlight and provides no options pane for managing your whitelist. You can disable it for a site by right-clicking on the placeholder of a Flash element but there seems to be no way of then removing that site from the list.

I’ve been using FlashBlock by Josorek for a few weeks now, first with the latest Dev builds of Chromium and now with the most recent Dev build of Chrome, and would recommend it as the best one of the options above.

Of course you could also go with a more robust approach to block not only Flash but all advertisements using something like AdBlock but for me that’s a bit overkill. Now that Chrome has enabled support for extensions I’d be curious in hearing how others are customizing their installs of Chrome. If you have a favorite extension or user script you’ve been using please share it with us in the comments.