A few weeks ago I started using Chrome on Mac OS X as my main Web browser. I had grown tired of Safari 4 chewing up nearly a gig of RAM after leaving it open for a week or more. Don't get me wrong, Safari is a fantastic browser and I wasn't happy about switching. But I can't have any browser chew through a gig of memory even if it takes it a week to do so. Chrome is nearly as fast as Safari (for me) and I've left it open for two weeks without any tab hogging memory. Each opened tab spawns its own process allowing a single tab to fail without affecting other tabs. In general I've found each tab occupies 25 MB to 40 MB of RAM. If you do that math you'll realize I can open around 25-40 tabs before Chrome takes up a gig of RAM.

Chrome Browser Processes

Enough about my reasons for switching to Chrome, this post is about the Flash Player running in Chrome.

When I switched to Chrome I quickly realized the debugger version of the Flash Player wasn't being used. When I attempted to run a step debugging process Flash Builder 4 displayed a notification warning me I wasn't running a debugger version of the player. I validated this claim using Adobe's Flash Player version checker.

This seemed really odd to me since I knew I was running a debug version of the player. I launched Safari and loaded the Flash Player version checker and it said I was running the debug version. So I checked in Firefox and received the same result. Why was Safari and Firefox using a debugger player but Chrome wasn't. As far as I understood things every browser on OS X looked in the /Library/Internet Plug-ins/ for two files: Flash Player.plugin and flashplayer.xpt. Whichever versions of these files you had in the directory dictated your installed Flash Player version.

That's when I remembered Chrome has its own embedded version of Flash Player and it manages this version of the player without input from you. This is good and bad. Casual Chrome users receive automatic updates to the Flash Player which can be useful when there are critical Flash Player security updates. For programmers writing software for the Flash Player this feature isn't so good.

I dug through Chrome preferences and found the screen at Preferences - Under the Hood - Content Settings (button) - Plugins - Disable individual plug-ins (text). A faster way to get to this configuration screen is to enter chrome://plugins/ in your address bar. After disabling the default Chrome-managed version of Flash Player the Adobe Flash Player version checker reported the correct debugger version. I was now able to debug Flex applications in Flash Builder 4, though it still told me I wasn't running a debugger player.

Chrome Plugin Settings

For those who wind up disabling the default player like I did, be warned. Chrome automatically updates it's default Flash Player and when it does the plugin is re-enabled. And since the plugin is listed higher on the Plugins page, this version of the plugin takes precedence when two different versions are enabled. You may want to check from time to time to verify you are still running a debug version. Just today I had to disable the default plugin again.

Aaron West's Gravatar
About this post:

This entry was posted by Aaron West on April 27, 2010 at 1:54 PM. It was filed in the following categories: Flex, Mac, Flash. It has been viewed 146549 times and has 35 comments.

35 Responses to Configuring Chrome with Flash Player Debugger

  1. Thanks for the tip

  2. daganev

    I was able to install MAC 10,1,53,21 debug version into chrome without any disabling of anything and it stays the debug version.

  3. Stanislav

    Many thanks for the tip! All works fine now!

  4. Dennis

    Thanks! Who knows how long I would have ferreted around trying to find this!

  5. Thanks, you saved me heaps of time (and pulled out hair)!

  6. Forgot to add, this applies verbatim to Windows 7!

  7. Jared

    You are a lifesaver. Thanks for figuring this out. I wondered what in the world was going on! Now I'm off and running again.

  8. Yannick

    Thanks Aaron. It saved me a lot of time.

  9. Keshav

    Thank you!

  10. Lavon

    I appreciate the tip man, NICE find!

  11. Excellent tip. This was driving me nuts!

  12. Hi Aaron. Did you need to do anything special to have the ~/Library version of the player show up in Chrome? I have the debug player installed there, but it's not showing up in the Chrome plugin list.

  13. Shoulda searched around a bit more.

    To clarify, I'm running the developer branch of Chrome (7.0.503) on OS X, which condenses the Chrome internal player with the ~/Library player, lending precedence to the internal player.

    To disable the internal player, invoke Chrome in Terminal by:
    open /Applications/Google\ Chrome.app --args --disable-internal-flash

  14. While I'm spamming your comments, I'll add one more idea.

    In my ~/.bash_profile, I've added the entry:
    #flash debugger chrome
    alias dbc="open /Applications/Google\ Chrome.app http://playerversion.com --args --disable-internal-flash --disk-cache-size=1 --media-cache-size=1 "

    This will not only disable the Chrome Flash player, but will also shut the disk cache off, so you can ensure that what you're seeing is not cached.

    You'd refresh the bash_profile in Terminal with:
    source ~/.bash_profile

    And invoke the browser in Terminal with:

  15. @Jeffery I didn't do anything special for the global versions of Flash Player to show up in Chrome plugin preferences. I was using a dev channel version of Chrome. I've since moved back to the standard version of Chrome as I was having a lot of Flash content issues with the dev channel.

    As far as disabling plugins goes, you can do it from within Chrome without having to write any bash profile scripts. I've found disabling plugins usually sticks for a good while unless you restart Chrome and there's been a dev channel update. In this case, certain disabled (and default to Chrome) plugins might be enabled.

  16. regan


  17. In Chrome 7 disabling Flash disabled ALL Flash plugins. It wasn't until this link


    highlighted the "Details" option in the upper right did I see the drill down allowing me to specify which plugin to use.

  18. @Michael - Thanks for the comment and tip. The Chrome 7 plugin manager screen is quite a bit different than Chrome 6. In Chrome 6 each plugin's file location was displayed by default. In Chrome 7 you have to press the Details button to expand each plugin section so additional details show up.

    Pressing the Disable button for a plugin should only disable one plugin at a time, regardless of the Chrome version. But you are correct without pressing Details first you won't know exactly which one you are disabling in the event you have two with the same name (such as two versions of Flash Player).

  19. So here's a screenshot for those who can't find the flash player versions as they've changed in Chrome:

    Also, i had to re-download the flash player debugger because for some reason it wasn't there to begin with :)

    Have fun developing in Chrome!

  20. Now with Chrome 11+ you can simply put the address bar to: chrome://plugins/

  21. Shahar Daniel

    Thank you very very much!!!

  22. Steve

    "It's own process". No apostrophe in the possessive "Its".
    "Its own process" is correct. "It's" only means "It has" or "it is".

  23. Shanimal

    Michael Wills, Dude! You're teh awesome. Thanks brother.

  24. This was quite helpful, thanks! FYI:

    "I dug through Chrome preferences and found the screen at Preferences - Under the Hood - Content Settings (button) - Plugins - Disable individual plug-ins (text)."

    Easier - simply type "about:plugins" in the address bar.


  25. Shashi

    Fantastic, very helpful!

    Just an update on how to do this on the latest Chrome (14.0.835.136). If you just disable the flash, it is going to disable all flash plugins because both the built-in and the external one are nested under one entry called "Flash." On the top right hand corner of the plugins page, there is a "[+] Details" link. Upon clicking that, it expands the "flash" entry and you can see two plugins. Disable only the built-in one.

  26. All, several folks have pointed out the different versions of the plugin configuration screen and how to open it. I've updated the post with instructions on the simplest way to open this screen that should work in older versions and current versions of Chrome.

  27. Raghav

    Thanks Aaron..

  28. Matt


  29. Tybira

    Ah, brilliant! I had been fretting for the past couple hours on why I kept seeing these "Missing Plug-in" messages. This was definitely helpful.

    My thanks to Aaron and everyone else here!

  30. Hartono

    Aaron, Thank You for the tips!

  31. Alberto

    you saved my life this morning. Thank you.

  32. Ariel Jakobovits

    awesome! thanks.

  33. Google chrome has changed. Be sure to click "+enable" in the upper right of chrome://plugins/ to see and disable the chrome version.

  34. Bill White

    I have a Dell Mini 9 notebook that came with Ubuntu pre-installed. I later switched to Windows 7. Now I have installed Chromium OS (latest version). I had issues with W-Fi, but found a solution online. My current problem is that my notebook does not have the Adobe Flash Player installed. (verified by going to chrome://plugins). If I go to Youtube, it says that I do not have it. If I go to the Adobe web site, it will not let me download it: "Your Google Chrome browser already includes Adobe® Flash® Player built-in. Google Chrome will automatically update when new versions of Flash Player are available."
    It is a catch 22. Can you help me? Thanks

  35. Pedro Cruz

    Just wanted to thank you, this post solved my problem.