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.



Thanks for the updates here. Indeed, Flash Blows. Nothing but a moving advert, wherever you happen to be; so user useful. And, don’t even consider the darker side of the Net, who employ it, either!


Personally, I wish Flash just dies. Other than video (which Flash also handles poorly), I don’t see a single acceptable use of the format. I hate it. Most sites that use it, I avoid unless there is no substitute.

Bryan Schuetz

@Manu That’s great news, thanks for updating it.

@Matt Thanks, I understood what she was saying. I’m all for graceful degradation. However in this case it’s not that I don’t have Flash, it’s that I’m choosing not to let Flash load automatically when the page loads. If I want to click through and see the site in Flash I can, thereby successfully degrading from a site without Flash to one with Flash. :)

I’d agree that it would be preferable (at times) to move directly to whatever final fallback the sites developer has setup but as not all developers are as diligent as Marcy I’m not sure how one could write that into an extension.


I’m the author of “Kill Flash”. I have updated the extension to have an editable whitelist. It is still a work in progress. I created it because

1. Flash spiked my cpu
2. Wanted to learn chrme extension development.

Jon Henshaw

Thanks Bryan. I actually found it on my own after I left that comment. For some reason, at least when I first started using the dev version for Mac, I couldn’t find/see that option in the menu, but I saw it today with the latest dev version. So it was either something with the dev version I previously had, or more likely, user FAIL ;)

Bryan Schuetz

@Jon if you go to chrome://extensions/ you should be able to see all the installed extensions you have, each one should have an “uninstall” link for removing it.

@Marcy I do disagree. These extensions empower the user by letting them decide when flash elements should be loaded into the browser. To be perfectly honest when the CPU usage of a browser window jumps from 0.8% to 85.4% when Flash is loaded I’m forced to wonder why that site would ever employ the use of Flash to begin with.

Especially when so much of what it typically gets used for could be accomplished in other ways. OK, embedding videos is one thing (hopefully something that will get better with HTML5) but again these extensions let the user decide if they want to take the CPU hit by loading that video or not.

Matt Rix

Bryan, I think you missed Marcy’s point. She doesn’t want the user to see the Flash, she wants the user to see the *alternative content* that they’re supposed to see if they don’t have Flash.

Marcy Sutton

Those methods appear to cover up alternate content, which in my opinion hampers user experience. Feel free to comment if you disagree, but I feel that users could miss out on legitimate content by effectively covering up so much of the page. I develop a lot of hybrid PHP/Flash websites that have alternate content for users without Flash, and I spend quite a bit of time making sure the site will perform well with Flash or javascript turned off.

Bjørn Nielsen

It seems like most of my most-have-firefox-plugins are available for Chrome as well: AdBlock, Delicious and Firebug.

One important plugin is the rss subscription button. I’ve tried one that made chrome crash, but the one named “Google reader RSS Subscriber” works perfect for me.
I’ve have also tried severel Google Reader notifiers which had problems, but “Google Reader Checker” are working as it should.

One special script that I have a love for is LookItUp2. It a greasemonkey script that enables you to make one-key search on selected words. That could be translations, etymology, wikipedia etc. Unfortunately it seems like theres no way to change settings when installed in chrome. But the code are quite easy to understand (one javascript file), so I’ve just changed the default settings to match my selection of seach engines.


to uninstall an extension, click the Tools button in the toolbar, choose “Extensions” and you’ll be taken to the extension page of the browser where you can disable or completely uninstall extensions – no restart necessary.

Matt Rix

Let’s hope most of your readers don’t follow this advice, otherwise you’re gonna have a much harder time selling ads on this site ;)

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