How to Install Flash on the Nexus 7 and Other Jelly Bean Devices

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Flash may not be important in the future – but a lot of websites want it today. If you’re not ready to give up Flash just yet, you can install Flash on your Nexus 7, even if Adobe doesn’t approve.

Bear in mind that Adobe hasn’t “certified” the Flash Player for Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) – it’s not guaranteed to work properly and you may see some bugs. Adobe is discontinuing development of Flash for Android.

Acquire the Flash APK

You can’t install Flash from Google Play, so you’ll need to acquire the Flash Player’s APK file yourself.  While many websites, including the XDA Developers forum, offer this APK for download, it’s generally a bad idea to install random Android package files from the web if you can help it.

If you have an Android phone or tablet with Flash on it, you can extract the Flash APK yourself. There are a number of ways to do this, including with AirDroid, which we’ve written about in the past. After installing AirDroid on your smartphone, launch it and log in via a browser on your computer. Click the Apps icon on the AirDroid page, search for Flash (it may be in the System section), and click the download link to extract and download the Flash APK file to your computer.

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Install the Flash APK

Now you’ll need to copy the APK file to your Nexus 7 (or other Jelly Bean device). You can do this in a number of ways – by connecting your Nexus 7 via USB, by copying the APK to Google Drive or another cloud storage service, or by installing AirDroid on your Nexus 7 and copying it over Wi-Fi.

After you’ve put the APK file on your Nexus 7, you’ll need to enable the “Unknown sources” check box, which allows you to install apps from outside Google Play. To do so, go into the Settings screen. (Pull down the notification drawer and tap the Settings icon or tap the Settings icon in the app drawer.)

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Tap the Security category on the Settings screen and enable the Unknown sources check box.

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Now you’ll just have to locate the APK file, tap it, and install it. If you copied the APK file to your Nexus 7’s file system, you’ll need a file manager like ES File Explorer to locate and install it. If you used Google Drive, you can open up the Google Drive app and tap the APK file. (The same goes for other cloud storage services.)

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Agree to the installation when prompted.

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After installing Flash, you should probably go back into the Settings screen and uncheck the Unknown Sources option to disable installation of other apps from outside Google Play. This can help protect you from malware — you can re-enable this option if you want to install an app from outside Google Play.

Install a Browser that Supports Flash

Google Chrome for Android doesn’t support Flash, so you’ll have to use a different browser to view Flash content. Firefox Beta supports Flash on the Nexus 7, and you can easily install it from Google Play. Once it’s installed, you can launch Firefox to view Flash content on web pages. If you already have Firefox installed, you may need to quit and restart it after installing Flash.

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Some people have also reported success locating an APK file of the old Android default browser – named “Browser” – and installing it for Flash support. However, this will require root access and is more work.

Tips for Using Flash

If you’re only using Firefox for Flash, you may want to open Firefox’s settings screen and set Plugins to Enabled – by default, Firefox uses Tap to play for plugins.

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If you still want to use Chrome most of the time, you can install Flashify to easily open pages with Flash in Firefox. When you visit a web page that needs Flash, open Chrome’s menu, tap Share, tap Flashify, and send the page to Firefox. Firefox will open and display the Flash on the page – no copying and pasting URLs required.

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Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.