Flash Tester   (and general Flash cheat sheet)
Flash Tester (and general Flash cheat sheet)
   
Adobe's Flash Tester

Update: Getting sick of updating the Flash Player all the time? Sick of the large number of bugs fixed in each update? Me too. See my May 2015 blog: Some perspective on Flash Player bugs. Most importantly, I offer four defensive strategies to be as safe as possible when running Flash. As for whether Flash is even needed in June 2015, Brian Krebs lived without it for a month and needed it twice. Your mileage will vary.

This site (page really) started as way for me to easily find the main Adobe Flash tester page (link above) which reports both on the installed copy of Flash in your browser and the latest version for assorted operating systems. Now, this is more of a Flash cheat sheet.

Adobe has a second un-named tester page at adobe.com/swf/software/flash/about/flashAbout_info_small.swf that displays the installed version number in a huge font (also available with insecure HTTP). Great for small screens. But, that's all it does, there is no indication of whether the installed version is current or not. If your browser tries to download a file, Flash is not installed.

They even have a third tester page they call Flash Player Help (also available via insecure HTTP). This page shows the installed version of Flash and indicates if its the latest version or not. When the installed version is old, it tells you what the latest version is for your browser/OS. That's the good news. The bad news is that it punts on the Chrome browser and IE on Windows 8. In both cases it says that Flash should be updated automatically, so fuggedaboutit, you're fine. Also, it used to be a bit buggy on OS detection. In early Feb 2014 it was only displaying the first 3 sections of the Flash version number, which has 4 sections. By September 2014 this bug had been fixed. As of May 2015, the bug is back, it now reports that v17.0.0 is installed, which could either be current or quite old.

Adobe used to have a fourth Flash tester but sometime in Jan 2014 or earlier, it was merged into the above.


Flash version history

  • June 23, 2015. A fix for one critical bug. See the Adobe Security Bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)    Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser18.0.0.194
    Macintosh OS X any browser18.0.0.194
    LinuxChrome18.0.0.194
     Firefox11.2.202.468

  • June 9, 2015. Fixes for 13 bugs. See the Adobe Security Bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser18.0.0.160
    Macintosh OS X Chrome 18.0.0.161
     Firefox,Safari,Opera 18.0.0.160
    LinuxChrome 18.0.0.160
     Firefox11.2.202.466

  • May 13, 2015. Fixes for 18 bugs. See the Adobe Security Bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser17.0.0.188
    Macintosh OS X any browser17.0.0.188
    LinuxChrome17.0.0.188
     Firefox11.2.202.460

  • April 14, 2015. Fixes for 22 bugs, most of which are critical. See the Adobe Security Bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser17.0.0.169
    Macintosh OS X any browser17.0.0.169
    LinuxChrome17.0.0.169
     Firefox11.2.202.457

  • March 12, 2015. Fixes for 11 critical security bugs. After all this time, 11 more. Will it never end? See the Adobe Security Bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser17.0.0.134
    Macintosh OS X any browser17.0.0.134
    LinuxChrome17.0.0.134
     Firefox11.2.202.451

  • March 11, 2015. Undocumented update (at least so far). The Adobe Flash tester page still says that 16.0.0.305 is the latest, however Chrome on Windows 7 has been updated to 17,0,0,134. On Windows 8, both Chrome and Internet Explorer were also updated to this new version.

  • February 5, 2015. Fixes for 15 bugs. Interesting that many reports, such as this from Brian Krebs, indicated that a single bug was patched, rather than 15. Adobe released two security bulletins. This one discusses the 15 bugs. This one only mentions one. Also interesting, is that the flaw that got all the attention, only hit Windows users running Internet Explorer and Firefox. Windows users running Chrome were safe. In the section below about the Flash Player on Windows, I have long suggested that Windows users limit Flash to Chrome.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser16.0.0.305
    Macintosh OS X any browser16.0.0.305
    LinuxChrome16.0.0.442
     Firefox11.2.202.442

  • February 2, 2015. Here we go again. Flash Player version 16.0.0.296, released just a few days ago, is found to be buggy and bad guys are exploiting the flaw. Adobe expects to issue a bug fix this week. It is time, perhaps overdue, to uninstall Flash and try to live without it. I have long recommended (see below) to only install Flash in a single web browser. Consider doing so in a browser you don't normally use and restrict that browser to the few sites that require Flash.

  • January 27, 2015. Yesterdays bug fixes are now more available in that it is being rolled out to the assorted auto-update mechanisms and is now available at the official Flash Player download page. The Adobe Security Bulletin says 2 bugs were fixed.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser16.0.0.296
    Macintosh OS X any browser16.0.0.296
    LinuxChrome16.0.0.296
     Firefox11.2.202.440

  • January 26, 2015. According to Adobe: "Users who have enabled auto-update for the Flash Player desktop runtime will be receiving version 16.0.0.296 beginning on January 24. This version includes a fix for CVE-2015-0311. Adobe expects to have an update available for manual download during the week of January 26, and we are working with our distribution partners to make the update available in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 and 11."
    You can also manually download the latest version.

  • January 22, 2015. Fixes for a single bug that bad guys are exploiting. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
    Expect another update to the Flash Player in a few days. See Adobe and Krebs on this.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser16.0.0.287
    Macintosh OS X any browser16.0.0.287
    LinuxChrome16.0.0.291
     Firefox11.2.202.438

  • January 14, 2015. Fixes for nine bugs, four of which are considered critical, on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser16.0.0.257
    Macintosh OS X any browser16.0.0.257
    LinuxChrome16.0.0.257
     Firefox11.2.202.429

  • December 9, 2014. Fixes for six bugs on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser16.0.0.235
    Macintosh OS X any browser16.0.0.235
    LinuxChrome16.0.0.235
     Firefox11.2.202.425

  • November 25, 2014. Fixes for a critical bug on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser15.0.0.239
    Macintosh OS XFirefox Opera Safari15.0.0.239
    Macintosh OS XChrome15.0.0.242
    LinuxChrome15.0.0.239
     Firefox11.2.202.424

  • November 11, 2014. Fixes for 18 critical bugs on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser15.0.0.223
    Macintosh OS Xany browser15.0.0.223
    LinuxChrome15.0.0.223
     Firefox11.2.202.418

  • October 14, 2014. Four bugs fixed on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser15.0.0.189
    Macintosh OS Xany browser15.0.0.189
    LinuxChrome15.0.0.189
     Firefox11.2.202.411

  • September 23, 2014. A single bug was fixed on Windows for Internet Explorer only. See documentation from Adobe and from Microsoft.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    WindowsInternet Explorer  15.0.0.167

  • September 9, 2014. 12 bug fixes on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
    Operating System  Browser(s)  Latest Flash Version
    Windows any browser15.0.0.152
    Macintosh OS Xany browser15.0.0.152
    LinuxChrome15.0.0.152
     Firefox11.2.202.406

  • August 12, 2014. 8 bug fixes on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
        Windows: The latest Flash for Internet Explorer is 14.0.0.176
        Windows: The latest Flash for Chrome browser is 14.0.0.177
        Windows: The latest Flash for Firefox and Opera is 14.0.0.179
        OS X: The latest Flash for Firefox, Opera, Safari is 14.0.0.176
        OS X: The latest Flash for Chrome is 14.0.0.177
        Linux: The latest Flash for the Chrome browser is 14.0.0.177
        Linux: The latest Flash for Firefox is 11.2.202.400
        Android: Oh, those were the good old days

  • July 8, 2014. 3 bug fixes on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
        Windows: (any browser) 14.0.0.145
        OS X (10.6,10.7,10.8,10.9): (any browser) 14.0.0.145
        Linux: The latest Flash for the Chrome browser is 14.0.0.145
        Linux: The latest Flash for Firefox is 11.2.202.394
        Android: Oh, those were the good old days

  • June 10, 2014. 6 bug fixes on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
        Windows: (any browser) 14.0.0.125
        OS X (10.6,10.7,10.8,10.9): (any browser) 14.0.0.125
        Linux: The latest Flash for the Chrome browser is 14.0.0.125
        Linux: The latest Flash for Firefox is 11.2.202.378
        Android: Oh, those were the good old days

  • May 13, 2014. 6 bug fixes on Windows, OS X and Linux. See Adobe's Security bulletin.
        Windows: (any browser) 13.0.0.214
        OS X (10.6,10.7,10.8,10.9): (any browser) 13.0.0.214
        Linux: The latest Flash for the Chrome browser is 13.0.0.214
        Linux: The latest Flash for Firefox is 11.2.202.359
        Android: Oh, those were the good old days

FLASH HISTORY from Adobe (last updated Nov. 2014)



FLASH PLAYER on WINDOWS

My Recommendation: (last updated Feb 15, 2015) Windows users should only use Flash in the Chrome browser. I have said this here for years and now it is more true than ever. For one thing, Chrome does a painless (if at times less than perfect) job of keeping the Flash Player up to date with bug fixes. The end user is not told or asked, which, in my opinion, is the way it should be. In addition, Chrome does a better job of sandboxing Flash than either Internet Explorer or Firefox. This too, has been true for a long time, and was illustrate recently when a flaw was exploitable in IE and Firefox but not in Chrome. What's new here is the recommendation to use click-to-play as a defensive tactic in Chrome. Websites that need Flash can still use it, but the end user has to first okay this by clicking on the area of the page devoted to Flash. You can also whitelist some websites. As of Chrome v40, you enable click-to-play with: Settings -> Show Advanced Settings -> Content Settings button -> Plug-ins -> Click to play radio button.

HISTORY and BACKGROUND

For Windows users with multiple browsers, the Flash player has been a particular annoyance for years because there are multiple copies of it. It is packaged one way for use with Internet Explorer (an ActiveX control) and another way (referred to as the plugin version) for use with Firefox and Opera. Then along came Chrome with its own embedded copy, an idea that Microsoft copied with the desktop edition of Internet Explorer 10 and 11 on Windows 8. The Metro/TileWorld/Modern edition of IE on Windows 8.x does not support Flash. Each packaging of the Flash Player is independent, so one of Adobe's Flash tester pages (linked to above) needs to be run in each installed browser. A Windows user with IE, Firefox and Chrome can have three copies of the Flash Player and each can be at a different version. What a mess.

For many years the update procedure for Flash was manual, rather than automatic. Now (December 2014) that things are more automated, the problem is inconsistency. Each Windows browser self-updates Flash using a different mechanism. Internet Explorer, in its never-ending quest to be the worst option, updates Flash one way on Windows 7 and a different way on Windows 8.x. On Windows 8, Flash in IE10 and 11 is updated with Windows Update. On Windows 7, IE10 and IE11 depend on Adobe rather than Microsoft. The Flash Player has its own, optional, self-update mechanism (first introduced in the summer of 2012). This same Adobe-provided mechanism is used by Firefox. Chrome has always been the best at this, despite some potholes along the way. It updates Flash along with the browser itself, silently and reasonably quickly.

The portable version of Chrome is an exception. When run stand-alone (that is, without the PortableApps.com Platform) it does not self-update at all.

The potholes I referred to above are a reference to Google's use of their component updating system for the Flash player. This software updating scheme is separate and distinct from the updating mechanism used for the rest of the browser. My experience has been that Flash updates via the component system roll out much slower. Thus, vulnerable Flash software remains installed much longer than it used to. See my October 2013 blog on this Chrome browser on Windows fails to update embedded Flash player. It is not clear to me that Google always uses their component mechanism for updating Flash. Recently (Nov. 2014) Flash updates have appeared in Chrome fairly quickly.

To see the version of Flash, and all plugins used by Chrome, enter chrome://plugins in the address bar. For full details on just Flash enter chrome://flash in the address bar.

I am a huge fan of the portable edition of Firefox. As a rule, it picks up the same copy of Flash that a normally installed copy of Firefox does. However, I have run across portable copies of Firefox with their own embedded copy of Flash. Portable Firefox users should update Flash in the same way you would for a normally installed copy of Firefox and then verify each portable instance of Firefox at Adobe's tester page.

Oct 2012: One issue with IE 10 and 11 using Windows Update to deliver Flash player updates is that Microsoft normally releases updates once a month. If Flash needs to be updated immediately, Microsoft may be reluctant to break from their schedule. In a Sept. 2012 article, Ed Bott griped that Microsoft had not updated IE10 with the latest Flash patches: Microsoft puts Windows 8 users at risk with missing Flash update. In fairness, Windows 8 had not been released at the time. Another 2012 article on this, one which did a good job putting things in perspective is Adobe confirms Windows 8 users vulnerable to active Flash exploits by Gregg Keizer in Computerworld.
Nov 2014: The way this seems to have played out is that Adobe adjusted their release schedule to match that of Microsoft. On the second Tuesday of the month both companies release bug fixes. Of course, that leaves Windows users vulnerable to known flaws in the Flash player longer.

Manually Installing the latest Flash Player browser plugin for IE and Firefox

Flash for IE and Firefox can be installed either from within each browser or with downloaded installer programs (EXE files in Windows). As a Windows user, I prefer the downloaded installers, as they avoid some installation hassles. Specifically, you don't have to deal with the Adobe Download Manager, you avoid the prompts to install assorted browser toolbars from third parties, you avoid ads and it's a simpler environment, less software involved makes it more likely to succeed.

There are multiple downloadable Windows installers:

Run each of these downloaded installers with their target browsers shut down.

The page below is the home office for downloading the Flash Player. If the links above change in the future, this page should have the latest. It also has MSI based installers. What it not have, however, is security. The downloaded files are sent to you via HTTP from this page. My links above use HTTPS. Adobe supports HTTPS, but does not offer it as an option on this page. To download via HTTPS, copy the links from this page and manually change the protocol from HTTP to HTTPS. (last verified April 27, 2015)

The official place to get the Flash Player is get.adobe.com/flashplayer. This is the worst place to get the software as you have to be on the lookout for extra software that Adobe tries to install.

For help with the Flash Player:

Manually un-installing the Flash browser plugins for IE and Firefox

It is normally not necessary to manually remove an old version of the Flash Player plugin before installing a new version. Still, I suggest doing so, to verify that the un-install worked before upgrading. Windows users can un-install Flash from the Control panel list of installed software - look for two versions (ActiveX and plugin) and remove each. Again, this is, limited, as it does not remove the copies of Flash embedded in other software such as Chrome and the Adobe Reader.

Should something go wrong with the un-install (it's happened to me, see an example), Adobe offers downloadable uninstallers for Windows and Macs in their TechNote tn_14157.

PepperFlash

August 19, 2012: On July 31, 2012 Chrome on Windows was converted from using an included Flash Player with an NPAPI interface to one with a PPAPI interface. The PPAPI version is newer and safer, that is, it is better sandboxed. Google refers to the PPAPI version of the Flash Player as Pepper Flash. The Pepper Flash interface is used on Windows, Linux and Chrome OS. OS X, however, is still using the older NPAPI interface for the Flash player plugin. For more, see my blog Explaining the confusion over Flash versions.
Sometime between September and December of 2012 OS X was upgraded to a Pepper-based Flash Player.

Flash in the Adobe Reader and other software

Outside of the installed copies of Flash that the Operating System is aware of, and outside of Chrome, Flash is also embedded in other software. Popular programs that include their own embedded copies of the Flash Player are the Adobe Reader versions 9 and 10 (Flash is not included with the Adobe Reader version 8) and Adobe Acrobat. Other software with its own copy of Flash includes Adobe AIR, Adobe Shockwave (see Dec. 2012 warning of vulnerability), Adobe Flash Professional and Adobe Flex. Flash is also used by AOL Instant Messenger and Microsoft Office. In fact, malicious Flash files have been embedded inside Office documents as part of a phishing attack. I don't know which version of the Flash player is picked up by Office apps. All these copies are not necessarily patched at the same time by Adobe.

More than once the workaround for a vulnerable embedded copy of Flash in Reader and Acrobat has been to rename, move or delete a file. For more on this see Security Advisory for Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader and Acrobat, look for the MITIGATIONS section. This is true for both Adobe Reader version 9 and X. Here is a brief summary:

  • Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.x on Windows: Rename file authplay.dll.
    It is typically located at C:\Program Files\Adobe\Reader 9.0\Reader\authplay.dll for Adobe Reader or C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 9.0\Acrobat\authplay.dll for Acrobat.
  • Adobe Reader 9.x and Acrobat Pro 9.x on Macs: Delete or move the AuthPlayLib.bundle file.
  • Adobe Reader 9.x on UNIX: Remove the library named "libauthplay.so.0.0.0."

Update: April 25, 2012. Things are changing here. See what Adobe says. In brief: Starting with the Reader and Acrobat 9.5.1 updates, Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.x on Windows and Macintosh use the installed Flash Player plugin for Firefox/Opera. No more Authplay. Adobe Reader 9.x users no longer have to update Adobe Reader each time there is an update to Flash. If the Firefox version of Flash is not installed and you open a PDF file that includes Flash (SWF) content, a dialog will prompt the user to install the latest Flash Player. Adobe is working on doing the same with Adobe Reader X.

Opera on Windows

I don't use Opera. According to Adobe it uses the plugin version of Flash that Firefox uses.

Safari on Windows

I don't use Safari on Windows and neither should you. I've been told that it uses the plugin version of Flash that Firefox uses.

 


Flaws in Adobe's warning to update Flash



November 11, 2014: I wrote the below text in this section many years ago. Yet, news broke today about updates to the Flash Player being used for years to infect "high value" guests at hotels. See


The warning above that a new version of Flash is available is flawed for these reasons:

  1. It checks once a week, at best. To me, this not frequently enough. And, your computer may only be checking every 60 days or not at all. To see how your machine is configured, check the Global Notifications Settings Panel. On a new Windows 7 machine, the default was 7 days, but I don't know if that's always the case.
  2. Adobe only warns about new versions of the Flash player at system startup. Anyone who doesn't turn off their computer doesn't get warned. My main laptop gets re-booted only once a month to install Windows patches. Every night it hibernates. No warning messages for me.
  3. When you see this message, how do you know if it's legit or a scam? Non-techies can't tell. The Flash update notice has already been used in attempts to install malware.
  4. The message is sometimes wrong. For example, if the computer was booted with an old version of Flash, then Flash was updated to the latest and greatest version, the next re-boot may well incorrectly warn that Flash is outdated. On one of my computers, after I removed Flash from both IE and Firefox, the next reboot warned me to update Flash. It's not clear if this warnig applies to the copy of the Flash player embeded in Chrome.
  5. There is not enough information supplied. For example, it does not say what the latest version of Flash is. It also does not say what old version of Flash it detected, let alone where this old version was found.
  6. It may install old software. I know someone who ignored the warning about updating Flash for quite a while. When they finally gave in and let Adobe update Flash, it installed an old version.

Regarding point 3 above, on Windows XP SP3, the last time I checked, Process Explorer showed that the warning came from program NPSWF32_FlashUtil.exe running out of C:\WINDOWS\system32\Macromed\Flash. In June 2011 on a Windows 7 64 bit system, the program displaying the window touting a Flash update was FlashUtil10q_Plugin.exe running out of C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash. The program identified itself as "Adobe® Flash® Player Installer/Uninstaller 10.3 r181" but it was not signed, so we can't know if it really came from Adobe or not. This may change over time, so I'd key off the Window Title column in Process Explorer to see the source process.




Flash Player on Android

Since this is no longer supported (the last bug fix was issued Sept. 2013) notes about this have been moved here.

Flash Player on a Mac

For instructions on how to install the Flash Player on OS X, as well as troubleshooting, see Flash Player installation problems on OS X from Adobe.

My Computerworld Blogs on Flash

Can't rember URLs?

Another way to get to Adobe's flash tester page is to right click on a Flash movie in a web page and select "About Adobe Flash Player".

Mozilla offers a plugin checker that works with Firefox and other browsers. As a rule, I wouldn't use it. It gets automatically invoked when Firefox itself is updated and this can be a good thing, as it warns of outdated instances of the Flash player. But, bad guys create fake pages that mimic these warnings, so you can't blindly trust them. Always check at Adobe's official Flash tester page.

Windows users can check the installed version of the Flash player in the control panel. In XP, go to Add or Remove Programs, click on the Flash player, then click on "click here for support informaton". In Windows 7 and 8, the version number is displayed as part of the list of installed software under Programs and Features. Vista users seem to be out of luck. This does not, however, tell you what the latest Flash version is. And, it doesn't tell you about copies of Flash embedded in other applications (i.e. Chrome, the Adobe Reader).

Flash Self-Update Checking

The self-update capability of the Flash player is poor. In terms of frequency, the best it can do is check for updates every 7 days. In terms of completeness, I believe it only reports on Flash used by web browers. That is, I don't think it warns about copies of the Adobe Reader with an old version of Flash embedded. The Adobe Reader and the Flash player browser plugin are updated in different and independant ways.

In addition, the Flash player has incorrectly warned me about outdated software. It seems to check, find an old version and then warn you the next time Windows boots up. By then, of course, the Flash player may well be up to date. And, as with Firefox's warning about the need to upgrade, this notification has also been spoofed by bad guys in an attempt to trick unwary users into installing malicious software. Bottom line: don't believe any notices about available updates to the Flash player, always check with Adobe's Flash tester page.

To configure how often the Flash player checks for udpates, go to a Macromedia.com hosted web page called the Notifications panel.

Note: you can prevent Flash from checking for updates in two ways. The first is a simple checkbox on the Notifications Panel. An Adobe TechNote, IT Administration: Configuring Flash Player auto-update notification explains another way, one involving a file called mms.cfg, but this TechNote seems to have been abandoned. It was last updated in April 2008 (as of Aug. 18, 2010) and doesn't even mention Windows 7.


FYI

When all else fails, see Archived Flash Player versions from Adobe.

Adobe has a forum for help with the Flash Player at forums.adobe.com/community/webplayers/flash_player

A section of the above forum is dedicated to Installing the Flash Player

About updating Adobe Flash Player from Adobe

Flash Player Help and Support from Adobe

The Flashblock extension for Firefox has been downloaded 9.4 million times (as of September 13, 2010).

There's a Flashblock for Chrome too.

Adobe also has another Flash tester page, Version Test for Adobe Flash Player, but as of July 3, 2010, 24 days after a new version had been released, it still listed an older version as being current. I checked again on September 22, 2010 and it no longer reports the latest version of Flash, only the installed version.

See my assorted notes on Flash Cookies

   
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