How To Fix Shockwave Flash Crashes in Google Chrome

By Jason Fitzpatrick on January 17th, 2012

flashchromecrash

If your copy of Google Chrome has taken on a sudden and inexplicable hatred for Shockwave Flash, we’re here to help. Read on as we show you how to tame Chrome and get it to play nice with Flash.

More so than other browsers, Google Chrome is particularly susceptible to a specific but not uncommon situation in which it simply will not coexist peacefully with Adobe Flash—frequent slow downs and annoying crashes are common as a result. The following tutorial will help you get Chrome back to its speedy self.

What Causes The Issue?

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The reason we’re talking about Chrome and not, say, Firefox, is because of the way Chrome handles Flash content. While other browsers call upon the Flash installation of the host system, Chrome includes an internal Flash installation. When everything goes smoothly, this isn’t a problem—the internal Flash installation is updated with every new Chrome release.

Unfortunately, things can fall apart pretty easily if Chrome gets confused and attempts to utilize both the OS installation of Flash and the internal Chrome installation of Flash. The result is serious browser lag, temporary lockup, and then a browser-wide crash of all active Flash instances. You don’t realize how many web sites use Flash until every single tab locks up with a crash warning—”The following plug-in has crashed: Shockwave Flash”

How Do I Know A Conflicting Flash Installation Is Causing The Crashes? 2012-01-16_134644

First of all, despite the warning about Shockwave, the actual warning has nothing to do with Adobe Shockwave, which is a separate program/multimedia system from Adobe Flash. Second, while not every instance of Flash flaking out in Chrome can be attributed to a Flash install conflict, we’ve found it to be the most common reason users are experiencing Flash-related problems.

How can you tell if a Flash conflict is the source of your trouble? Run Chrome. In the address bar, type about:plugins in the address bar. After you press enter, you’ll be greeted with a list of all the plug-ins installed in Chrome (this is different from user-installed Extensions). Look down the list of plug-ins for the Flash entry. If the entry looks like Flash (2 Files) there is a very good chance the source of your Flash-related crashes is a conflict between the two.

In the upper right hand corner of the browser window, there is a small toggle labeled [+] Details. Click on that toggle to expand the entries for all the plug-ins. Return to the entry for Flash.

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You should see something like the screenshot above: two entries for Flash, one for the internal Chrome installation (highlighted in red here) and one for the host OS’s installation (seen below the highlighted entry).

You need to click on the Disable link for Chrome’s internal installation of Flash (make sure you disable the one located in Chrome’s AppData folder and not the separate stand-alone Flash installation). Once you do so the entry for the internal installation should look like so:

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Go ahead and close the tab and then close Google Chrome. Restart Chrome and resume normal browsing—visit Adobe’s test page to ensure everything looks good:

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Remember, you’ll no longer be getting automatic updates with each Chrome upgrade. Make sure to check for updates at Adobe’s Flash download page and/or turn on the update check in your local installation of Adobe Flash.

Check For Conflicting Software

Some software on your computer can conflict with Google Chrome and cause it to crash. This includes malware and network-related software that interferes with Google Chrome.

Google Chrome has a hidden page that will tell you if any software on your system is known to conflict with Google Chrome. To access it, type chrome://conflicts into Chrome’s address bar and press Enter.

chrome conflicts

You can also check the Software that crashes Google Chrome page on Google’s website for a list of software that causes Chrome to crash. The page includes instructions for solving conflicts with some conflicting software.

If you have conflicting software on your system, you should update it to the latest version, disable it, or uninstall it. If you are not sure which software a module is related to, try Googling the name of the library.

Run the Google Software Removal Tool

Google just launched a new tool that will help you clean up your Chrome browser from anything that is interfering with normal operation.

All you need to do is navigate to www.google.com/chrome/srt/ and click the Download now button.

When it restarts it’ll ask you to reset your browser, which can be really helpful in preventing crashes and other problems.

Scan for Malware and Spyware

Unlike your antivirus software, which will usually happily allow spyware to take over your computer, an anti-malware solution will actually find, remove, and block spyware that invades your browser.

How does this apply to a Flash problem? Because a lot of the spyware causes instability in your browser, which then causes other problems.

We recommend scanning with Malwarebytes and using that to remove all of the problems. It’s completely free to use, although they do have a paid version with more features like real-time blocking of spyware.

Using it couldn’t be more easy — download, install, scan, and then click the Apply Actions button to remove all of the malware. Just like vacuuming inside of your couch cushions, you’ll be shocked at how much nonsense you’ll find.

Other Fixes

If for whatever reason disabling the built-in Flash doesn’t help, we suggest playing around with different combinations. Try turning off the OS Flash installation instead of the built-in Flash installation for example. Also, try visiting a flash-based web site while Incognito Mode (when you enter Incognito Mode it turns off all your Extensions which may or may not be causing issues with Flash). Finally, as a last ditch effort, you can reinstall Chrome (if Flash works in every other browser but Chrome, this is likely the only option you have left).

You can create a new profile for the browser, or go through a number of other steps as well. Be sure to read our guide to Troubleshooting Google Chrome crashes for more tips.


Have a tip or trick for dealing with tricky Flash installations or other browser quirks? Sound off in the comments.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/17/12
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