Adobe Flash is officially dead — what to do now

Adobe Flash Logo
(Image credit: Adobe)

Three years ago Adobe announced that Flash Player, a once cornerstone of interactive content online, will be ending. Well, that day has finally come, and Adobe is strongly recommending that users uninstall Flash from their computers immediately. 

On January 1st, Adobe dropped support for Flash. That means no more annoying update prompts, the ones that also nudged you to install McAfee Security Scan Plus. According to Adobe's Flash end of life page, "Adobe does not intend to issue Flash Player updates or security patches after the EOL Date. Adobe strongly recommends that all users uninstall Flash Player immediately."

The reason Adobe is being so forceful in asking users uninstall Flash is because it has always been a security nightmare. 

Per a piece by Adam Palmer at Infosecurity Magazine, the National Vulnerability Database returns 1,122 records for Flash Player, both the FBI and CIA put it in the top-10 routinely exploited vulnerabilities, and that criminals still try and trick people into installing fake versions of Flash on their computers.

Research shows that 99% of internet users don't have Flash installed on their computers. Actually, Apple dropped support of Flash from its computers in 2010, switching to HTML and WebGL standards. The iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch have never supported Flash. It's likely that you don't have Flash installed on your computer. But just in case, it's good to follow these steps.

How to uninstall Flash on Windows 10

How to uninstall Flash on MacOS

  • Open a Finder window and select Applications
  • Open Utilities (or search for Adobe Flash Player Install Manager)
  • Open Adobe Flash Player Install Manager and click Uninstall
  • You will get a confirmation when it is fully installed

If you don't want to go through the above steps, Adobe also has an uninstaller program for Mac that can be found here.

As for sites like Homestar Runner, it will continue to work using an emulated version of Flash thanks to the Ruffle Project. Emulation isn't perfect, and some games might not play the way you remember. But the Ruffle Project aims to fix emulation issues. New episodes of Homestar Runner also go live on YouTube.

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.

  • Wolfshadw
    So it appears that Adobe Flash has been removed, but I'm unable to delete the folders from my drive. Each folder (and included files) were created by "TrustedInstaller" and cannot be removed, even by an Admin of the system. I tried taking ownership of the files and folders, only to be greeted by the same error message, except that MY admin account needed access to the folders.

    -Wolf sends
  • djskroller
    Research shows that 99% of internet users don't have Flash installed on their computers
    From the linked article:
    To get the best out of the web you will need Flash. Research shows that around 99% of internet users now have it.

    That's quite a typo.
    Also, neither article cites the alleged "research" they are referencing.
    Bad journalism is bad and you should be ashamed.
  • clayaz23
    Hey Wolf,

    Had the same issue - after hours of banging my head against the wall - I think I did it. There is probably a much easier way but I could not find it (I do not trust the old "download this super powerful free uninstaller tips). Anyway.

    I found all the folders and had the same response - not able to delete which freaked me out - I mean hey get rid of Flash due to security issues but then you cannot get rid of these folders or files from my own computer - suspect to say the least. That is why I took the time to find this.

    First I ran the adobe uninstaller - which as you found - did NOT actually remove everything.
    Note all the Flash folders.
    Run an elevated command prompt "cmd" (as administrator)
    Navigate to each noted flash folder and "takeown" every file in each folder syntax for this is "takeown /f filename.ext" from within the directory. (You can get them all at once by doing "star<dot>star" - Tom's will not let me type in an actual star for some reason). You should get a message success for each file.
    You will not be able to delete from cmd (I think because you have not changed the permissions yet).
    Exit the cmd prompt.
    Go back to the folder in file explorer and you should be able to change permissions (right click on the file name) for each file by security tab in properties - you have to click on Users and edit then again on Users and "edit" to be able to manually set the users permission to full. I am sure you can also set this at the folder level in advanced settings and force inheritance down the file structure but I just did it file by file to savor the victory one deletion at a time.
    Go back to the file you just changed and you should be able to delete it.Hope this helps.

    Buh bye 2020 and buh bye Flash.
  • Strangely
    Hi Wolf.
    I had the same issue a few years back. I posted an article and code that automates the unlocking process. It wasn't my work, but I added to it. It's for Win10 and the comments I made are about the old Edge browser. (I need to get back and edit it a bit for the latest info). The article I wrote is for my own info really as each time I visit a new machine to fix for friends etc I need the batch file.
    It's helped a few people. If you don't want to copy & paste the code I have a link to the download, but you'll need to right click and save because clicking it in most browsers that are at all serious about security in their settings will block .bat files.


    Mod Edit - PM for the link
  • Loopygram
    admin said:
    Adobe has finally ended support of Flash, and is recommending users uninstall it immediately.

    Adobe has killed off Flash -- what to do now : Read more
    To get rid of the files and folders for flash you need a little program called Unlocker. It's free. I used it yesterday and it works.