Posted by: kurtsh | January 23, 2012

HOWTO: Fix Adobe Flash when it’s installed but keeps stating that it needs to be installed/updated

imageWow, this bugged me forever but I never had time to investigate it thoroughly.

  • What do you do if Adobe Flash is clearly installed on your PC but when you go to a site that uses Flash, it says that you need to either “install Flash” or “update Flash to the latest version”?

This had me baffled.  Why?  Because after some quick research, I saw that this could be caused by a Flash update failure and that there were only a few things that you could do to fix the issue:

    Of course we all try this.  To no avail.  The behavior is the same in the new install and Flash continues to respond as if it’s not installed or needs to be updated.
    We all attempt to do an update of Flash once we see this and update over the existing install in the hopes that the problem will go away.  This didn’t work for me.  Ever.
    This was an interesting one because apparently some machines will exhibit this behavior if it’s an old ATOM machine for example and doesn’t have any graphics acceleration on chip or discrete at all.  The problem is, I see no way to disable HW acceleration manually this if you can’t actually get to a working Flash object at all.

It turns out that there’s a FOURTH thing you can do:

    You read that right.  Apparently there is a tool specifically designed to reallyreallyreally uninstall Flash from a system.  Doing a straight uninstall from Add/Remove Programs on your Windows system isn’t enough because the uninstall process doesn’t actually uninstall everything.  It leaves behind registry keys and values, directories, etc.  Not good.

    …in any case, this finally worked for me after I ran it and then reinstalled Flash 11 again.  Hope it works for you too:

    KB: Uninstall Flash Player | Windows

Apparently this does stem from the registry keys and values that remain from the previous install.  Before this uninstaller, you had to actually go into the registry and manually delete all these keys and values by yourself per Adobe’s web site during the Flash 9 and Flash 10 days.  Nowadays, if you use the Uninstaller, it automatically cleans things up for you in the registry – which is one of the reasons they produced this tool. 

Here’s a pointer to the uninstallers referred to in the above KB Tech Note (tn_14157):

Download the uninstaller for Flash Player

Download the correct Flash Player uninstaller for your version of Windows. (For assistance with this step, see How to determine whether a computer is running a 32-bit version or 64-bit version of the Windows operating system.)

Be sure that when you’re running it, you have everything shutdown that could possibly be using Flash.  IM programs, browser windows, other apps, etc.

Here are some research articles I flipped through.  But the important was is above:


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