How to uninstall old Flash players

While doing a search on a Flash question, I came across a useful tip at — surprisingly — Fox News. A reader wrote to Tech Q&A and described a problem with Flash Player 10 and Windows Vista Ultimate. The reader is getting an error message that says the necessary version of the Flash Player is not installed. But the reader quite definitely does have Flash Player 10 installed.

I have had this same problem, not only in Windows Vista but also on Windows XP and the Mac OS. So getting a solution was great, and I thought I should share it:

The Flash Player installer has a long history of failing to fully remove older versions. I suspect the problem has something to do with interference from an old artifact. You need to get rid of it.

Things to remember: First, if you have more than one browser installed (Internet Explorer and Firefox, for example), you actually have two versions of Flash Player to get rid of — it’s installed as an Active X control for IE, but as a plug-in for Firefox, Opera and other browsers.

Second, the Add/Remove Programs applet build into Windows is not the best way to get rid of previous versions. Instead, download and run Adobe’s Flash Player Uninstaller, which promises to remove Flash “from all browsers on the system.” You can find it here.

And if you’re the type who wears both belt and suspenders (just in case), then you should scan your system and make sure all versions of Flash have been removed with the free Secunia Software Inspector. You can run that from here.

Finally, after you’ve removed all traces of previous Flash Players, go back to Adobe and get the latest and greatest. [Here.]

Remember that you’ll have to get the both the Active X version and the appropriate plug-in if you have more than one browser installed.

In fact, now that I think about it, your problem might be that you have the correct Flash version for IE, but a stale Firefox plug-in, or vice versa.

I’ve even encountered a Flash Player version problem when opening SWFs from my hard drive — not sure whether this will address that, but it’s worth a try.

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