So you installed Firefox on Windows Vista, but you can’t seem to get the flash plugin to install… you click the “Install Missing Plugins” button, follow the wizard, restart Firefox, and it’s still not installed. Annoying!

Instead of going through this repeatedly without any luck, you can simply install the plugin manually with a couple of steps.

Note that you can use this manual method to install any plugin, not just Flash.

Install Flash Plugin Manually on Vista

The first thing you’ll need to do is manually download the plugin file. You should be able to right-click on this link and choose “Save Link As…” from the menu.

Once you have the file downloaded, rename the file with a .zip extension:


You should be able to double-click on the file to open it up, since .xpi files are really just renamed .zip files.


Now you’ll need to copy two files from that directory into one of two directories, depending on whether you want to install the plugin globally for all users, or just for your user account.

The two files you’ll need to copy are these:

  • flashplayer.xpt
  • NPSWF32.dll

Install for All Users

Navigate down to the following path in Windows Explorer to find the Firefox installation directory:

C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins

Note that if you are running on 64-bit Vista the path will have (x86) like the next screenshot, or if you are using Portable Firefox you’ll have to find your Firefox installation folder and navigate to the plugins directory there.

Now paste those two files that you extracted into this directory (You’ll be prompted by UAC), restart Firefox and you are done.

Install for Your User Account Only

If you don’t have administrator access to your machine, or you simply want to install for only your account, you can browse to the following path:



Once you are in that directory, create a new directory called Plugins if it doesn’t already exist:

And then paste the two files into the Plugins directory. Restart Firefox, and you are done.

Verifying Installation

You can make sure that the plugin is loaded and turned on by typing about:plugins into the address bar:

Of course the simpler test would be to just load up whatever page you were on before you started troubleshooting. =)

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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