Going (mostly) Flashless in OS X Lion
With Adobe itself signalling the end of Flash, now is as good a time as any to free yourself of the resource-devouring plugin.
A year ago, John Gruber posted a solution for completely removing Flash while retaining the ability to pull up content should the need arise.
This is a great fix for two reasons. First, it will increase the overall performance of your system by increasing battery life, running cooler and loading pages faster. Second, it will provide passive feedback (via analytics) to the site owners that you are not running Flash, and ideally push those sites to transition to web standards HTML5 more quickly.
Since that post, a few key things have changed.
Starting with the latest generation MacBook Air, new Macs that ship with Lion no longer include Flash pre-installed. While this means that owners of new Macs no longer have to manually uninstall Flash, they still need a suitable way of accessing Flash content when required.
Also, Chrome has since added a feature that automatically updates the browser to the newest version. Unfortunately, this breaks the keyboard shortcut documented in Gruber’s tutorial by constantly changing the application name listed in Safari’s developer menu. This feature cannot be disabled from within the application, enter the following workaround.
First, if your Mac still has Flash player installed, uninstall it using Gruber’s original instructions:
Flash Player was in the default location: /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/. I moved “Flash Player.plugin”, “flashplayer.xpt”, and “NP-PPC-Dir-Shockwave” out of that folder and into a new folder I created next to it named “Internet Plug-Ins (Disabled)”. All you need to do to disable them is move them out of /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/.
Next, disable auto-updates in Chrome by executing the following command in Terminal.
defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval 0
Finally, create a custom keyboard shortcut to open the current page in Chrome, which has its own self-contained Flash runtime. Gruber’s instructions still apply here as well:
I’ve also added a shortcut for opening the current Safari page in Chrome quickly. First, if you haven’t done so already, enable Safari’s Develop menu. (It’s a checkbox in the “Advanced” panel of Safari’s preferences window.) The Develop menu contains an “Open Page With” sub-menu, which lists all the web browsers you have installed on your system. Using the Keyboard Shortcuts section in System Preferences, I set a custom menu key shortcut for the command to open the current page in Google Chrome. Whenever I’m on a page in Safari with Flash content I wish to view, I hit that shortcut, and boom, Chrome launches and loads that page. (Hint: when you create the custom shortcut, and are asked for the name of the menu item, just use “Google Chrome” or “Google Chrome.app” (whichever appears in your Open Page With sub-menu).)
That’s it. You’ve now rid your system of an ever-present Flash installation, but still left a way out for those pesky restaurant menus and auto manufacturers that just can’t take a hint.