Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One Timesaving Idea: Turn Off Flash in Your Web Browser

My heartfelt thanks to Andy Ihnatko, who provided me with my latest time-saving computer tweek. Andy was writing about the iPad, but along the way he provided this gem:
As a user, your perspective on Flash will change if you install Flash-blocker installed on your browser. If you’re using Firefox, download Flashblock. If you’re using Safari, get ClickToFlash. If you’re using Internet Explorer or Chrome ... download Firefox or Safari. With the plugin running, a placeholder appears where any Flash content should have loaded. If you really want to see it, give the placeholder a click, and the missing content will load and run.

You’ll notice two things pretty quickly. First, that websites rarely include Flash content that’s actually worth loading. But primarily you’ll notice that your PC or Mac has magically become much faster and way more stable. ...

Now? My browsers almost never lock up. My PCs and Macs spend far less time whistling nonchalantly behind a Spinning Cursor Of Infinite Impatience.
Well, sure enough. I use Safari as my primary browser, so I installed ClickToFlash. And now pages with Flash load much more quickly - and yes, my browser is more stable. And unless I specifically want to watch a video (on YouTube, for example), I find I rarely click to load the Flash content. The Rubbermaid site, for example, works just fine without the Flash.

Although Andy doesn't mention it, Lifehacker wrote about a similar tool for Internet Explorer 7:
Windows/IE7 only: Nothing's better than heading to a web page to find some information and being greeted with a slow-loading, over-the-top Flash intro, right? For distracting, crash-causing, or otherwise troublesome animated pages, Toggle Flash, a free Internet Explorer 7 add-on, soothes the pain pretty quickly.

site with Flash blocked

Want to see something funny? With ClickToFlash installed, follow the link to Andy's excellent article and you'll see something like the site above. Lots of Flash, successfully blocked.

I haven't tried either Flashblock or Toggle Flash, so I can't vouch for them from personal experience. If anyone else has, please add a comment and tell us how it worked for you.


PlantingOaks said...

Even better: block all scripts.

You wouldn't believe how many ads and useless cruft is triggered by scripts. Turn them off, and the whole internet gets much cleaner.

NoScript is a useful addon for firefox. It hides flash behind a click as shown, plus blocks scripts by default, with a handy button for turning them back on in places where you need all that functionality - like your webmail for instance.

Jeri Dansky said...

PlantingOaks: Too bad I felt the need for a script to hide my e-mail address from spammers, isn't it?

Thanks for teaching me about NoScript; I see the company is promoting it as a way to improve security.

althealewis said...

OMG! I downloaded Flashblock in Firefox, can't believe how much faster pages load and I don't accidentally open something when the mouse passes over an ad. Thanks, your tips are always great!

Jeri Dansky said...

Althealewis, thanks for the report back on Flashblock. I'm glad it's working so well for you!