How to Browse Flash Free on OS X

A good way to tell if someone is a nerd is to check how many tabs are currently open on their main computer. If the number is greater than 10, there’s a good chance you’re looking at a nerd’s machine. Using this measurement, I certainly fall into this exclusive camp. Whilst being a nerd is often extremely beneficial, it comes with some drawbacks. One of these is the performance losses when more than a few tabs are open in Safari on OS X. I’ve suffered with this problem for months and have recently found a few simple steps to take to avoid it altogether. The biggest culprit is Flash.

It has become normal for me to have upwards of 20 tabs open at a time on my Mac. Doing this would very often bring the entire machine to its knees, forcing me to quit Safari and re-launch, loading each tab again. Over time, this procedure became tedious and I have been looking for a simple solution to stop my browser getting bogged down when used heavily. I’ve found an answer.

The first step is to completely uninstall Flash from the system. I performed a search for “flash” using Alfred, but I’m sure a Spotlight search in OS X would locate the uninstaller, too. Ensure Flash is completely uninstalled before proceeding with the next step.

Secondly, to avoid issues when playing YouTube videos, install the Safari extension YouTube5. This replaces Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook video players with a much nicer alternative. It also makes YouTube videos play without hitch - when Flash isn’t installed, YouTube will often refuse to play a video even though it’s technically possible. YouTube5 solves this problem for me.

The last step to enjoying a more responsive browser even whilst under heavy load is to install this Open in Chrome Safari Extension. As it sounds, this Safari extension makes it extremely simple to open pages Chrome, from Safari. Google’s browser contains Flash within it — so if you’re viewing a page which requires Flash (which you’ve uninstalled), you’re now just a button press away from viewing it with no issues. This is the “cheat” step for running a Mac without Flash installed.

I also use Open in Chrome to fix some quirky behaviour with YouTube5. Occasionally an embedded YouTube video will disappear from a page when the YouTube5 player tries to load. If this happens, all I need to do is press the button in my Safari toolbar and I’m viewing the page in Chrome straight away.

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It’s worth noting that installing the Safari extension for Open in Chrome isn’t enough — there’s also a small “helper” application which must be running. Drag the included app to your Applications folder, then launch System Preferences > Users & Groups, navigate to Login Items and ensure the helper app is set to run automatically when you login. Once that’s been set, you will want to launch the app so it’s running straight away.

When you next reboot, the helper app will automatically run and you’ll be good to go.

I am yet to find a problem with this setup. The Safari extensions do not seem to impact performance of the browser and running Chrome occasionally is a small price to pay for faster browsing most of the time.