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Getting permission to uninstall Flash Player

July 22, 2015

uninstalling-flash

Today when I decided to completely uninstall the Adobe Flash Player from my Windows 8 laptop, in order to better test website support of HTML5, I immediately ran into a difficulty — I wasn’t allowed to!

The big reason to ditch the Flash Player is that it potentially puts your privacy and security at risk. So it’s ironic that the security features built into Windows to protect users will make it difficult, if not impossible, for many of them to get the Flash Player completely off of their computers.

Adobe says you can but Windows says you can’t

cant-delete-trustedinstaller-owned-folder

Adobe provides a Flash Player uninstaller program for both Windows and Mac users. You’d think then that getting rid of the pesky Player plug-in would be as simple as running the installer.

Nope. After you’ve run the uninstaller, Adobe says that you need to manually search through your computer and delete a bunch of program files.

Adobe instructs that you should go into your Windows Start menu, choose “Run”, and paste the following directory path into the field and click “OK”:

C:\Windows\system32\Macromed\Flash

This opens a folder called “Flash” which contains four files that Adobe says you need to select and delete:

Flash.ocx
FlashInstall.log
FlashUtil_ActivX.dll
FlashUtil_ActiveX.exe

Only you can’t delete them. Windows will refuse, telling you that:

“You require permission from TrustedInstaller to make changes to this file”.

Basically, you (and Flash Player) are only allowed to read and write to the files — it’s a security thing.

Easier to ask forgiveness than seek permission in Windows

Operating system designers believe that you (the user) are as big a security risk as any program or hacker.

You don’t automatically get permission to go into the heart of the computer and throw things away because, well, you might throw the wrong thing away and because anything you allow in the door has all the same permissions that you have.

But you need that permission to fully uninstall the Flash Player.

It’s different and harder to manually change folder permissions in Windows 8 than in Windows 7 and I’m just not going there.

By far, the easiest way to change the permissions is to download and install HowToGeek’s Take Ownership Menu Registry hack, which adds a “Take Ownership” option to the right-click menu of Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.

HTG provides both an installer and uninstaller in one zip archive. Download and uncompress the “TakeOwnership.zip” file anywhere that you like and then double-click the “InstallTakeOwnership.reg” file and click through the prompts. No reboot required (to uninstall it, just double click the uninstaller).

take-ownership-menu

Now when you right-click on the “Flash” folder you can then left-click on the “Take Ownership” menu option.

Ownership will be instantly transferred to your user account and you can delete the four files.

You can then repeat the procedure on three more folders:

  • C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash (5 files to delete)
  • %appdata%\Adobe\Flash Player (5 folders full of stuff to delete)
  • %appdata%\Macromedia\Flash Player (2 more folders with over 2,000 things to delete!)

For each of the three directories you will be told that you require permission and each time you will need to click one directory back in the “breadcrumb trail” at the top of the Windows Explorer file window.

The handy "breadcrumb" trail view if where you are in the directory hierarchy.

The handy “breadcrumb” trail view of where you are in the directory hierarchy.

Then you simply right-click on the folder icon of the directory that contains the files you want to delete and left-click the “Take Ownership” option. After that you can double-click the folder and then select and delete its contents to your heart’s content.

The routine for using the Macintosh Flash Player uninstaller(s) is nearly as complicated. Mac users also have to go in and manually delete Flash program files in their Home directory. However, I can find nothing that suggests that Mac users need to make any special effort to elevate their privileges in order to do so. Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Apple, Internet, Windows

3 Comments
  1. Viktor permalink

    Hey guys,

    thanks for the article. my Flash Player always crashed in Chrome but after I had deleted the Flash Player (with your method) from my computer, it worked flawlessly.

    Cheers,
    Viktor

  2. THANK YOU!!!!!!! Have been fighting this issue for EVER.

    • You’re so welcome. And ALL our thanks to HowToGeek.com for making the right-click doo-hinkey to take back user control of things back from the OS! I was just thinking this morning how I haven’t had a Shockwave Flash-related browser freeze since… right! Since I uninstalled Flash! 🙂

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