Over the holidays a few weeks ago, I suddenly found I was unable to play Flash videos in Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 10. I first noticed it on a Facebook video, and I decided to look at this as a feature, not a bug. Most Facebook videos are just a waste of time anyway, and I was no longer able to waste any time on them. Cool.
Then somebody suggested I should try Edge, and I found that it wouldn’t play Flash videos either. The symptoms were roughly the same in both browsers: the Flash player showed as installed and enabled in the browser’s settings, but any time I clicked on a Flash video I got a message about not having Flash installed.
With previous versions of Windows, you could just go to the Adobe Flash Player Download page and re-install Flash if needed:
Oh, I don’t have Flash installed and I need to download it? Great, I’ll just click on that “Adobe Flash Player download” link … and then it displays this helpful message:
The Adobe site auto-detects that I’m running Windows 10 and helpfully redirects me to a page that tells me I “do not need to install Flash Player,” after the previous page had explained that my Flash Version is “not installed.” And just to be safe, they won’t even let me try to install it.
They also suggest checking whether the Flash Player is enabled, and sure enough my “Not installed” Flash player is “enabled”:
In Edge, you can even see the contradictory messages at the same time, by popping up the Advanced Settings sidebar. My Flash Player is “currently disabled,” but the setting says I’m using it:
After wasting a bunch of time on this issue, I decided to bite the bullet and call our internal support hotline. I’ll not air the details publicly here, but let’s just say it was my worst experience ever with our internal support. It ended with a frustrated guy telling me “this is between you and Adobe support.”
Then my teammate William had a good suggestion: contact the Web Platform team. And that went great! They were very interested in understanding what was going on, and after about 20 emails back and forth I’m back to being able to waste time on Facebook videos with either Edge or IE 11!
For anyone else who has this problem (and who else would still be reading this post?), here’s what I learned:
- The Problem: my Flash.ocx file was corrupt — filled with nothing but 0s. The theory is that I had a hard reset while the Flash player was updating, and the cached update hadn’t finished writing to disk.
- The Solution: since Adobe won’t let me update the Flash player online, I had to manually replace the contents of the Flash player folder with everything from the most recent Flash player update. The two folder that need to be updated are Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash and Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash, and you can get the files off another Windows 10 machine that has Flash working fine.
- The Catch: to copy executable files into those folders, you need to use sfpcopy.exe, which may not be on your system. I had some help with this from my internal contact, but it looks like there are some options available online, too. Or, worst case, you can just wait until the next auto-update of the Flash player by Windows Update, and the problem will fix itself.
OK, time to go catch up on all those Donald Trump memes I’ve been missing out on.