Flash is Broken on the Mac: The Flash Wall of Shame

Apr 2, 2010 - 33 Comments

epic flash fail

Flash on the Mac is broken

Steve Jobs is now famously purported to have called Flash a “CPU hog” and “old technology”, something I’d have to agree with based on my experience. Flash is simply broken on the Mac, there is just no denying it. I don’t know what the problem is and I’m not going to pretend to know, but I do know that it makes for a generally miserable experience to encounter a Flash website when you’re on a Mac.

Apple’s problems with the Adobe Flash plugin have been in tech news a lot recently, so we’re going to show what the complaints are about. It doesn’t matter how good your browser is, the Flash plugin will probably screw it up by taking over every possible CPU cycle. Load a Flash-based site and your MacBook Pro will sound like it’s preparing to enter Earths orbit. This is what people are complaining about, and this is exactly why Apple doesn’t want Flash on their touch devices.

GOOGLE CHROME FAIL

Flash Plugin CPU Usage

flash chrome fail

flash chrome spindump

flash safari

I don’t believe you, Flash on the Mac is beautifully written and a wonderful compliment to any web browser, it’s full of soft flowers and will bake you cakes and tuck you into bed, all while only using 1% of CPU when running 600 YouTube Videos!
I wish! If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to meltdown your Mac browser with some Flash, check out BB 2.0, the collaborative music project, where you’re supposed to play various YouTube videos to create your own music… fancy idea but I can’t play more than 8 videos at a time on my Mac without whatever browser becoming totally unresponsive, with Firefox fairing the worst and requiring a Forced Quit to return to sanity (for the record, I can play them all on a relatively weak Windows Netbook next to me, in any browser).

Ok enough is enough, what can I do as a Mac user?
Other than voicing your complaints (Adobe must be listening somewhere, and hopefully addressing the problem), I think the best thing for Mac users who are fed up with Flash’s performance is to simply add a Flash blocker to their web browser. Here’s a few options to consider:
FlashBlock for Firefox
BashFlash for Chrome
ClickToFlash for Safari

Further reading on the Flash in Mac OS X and iPad/iPhone/iPod debacle:
Daring Fireball: Apple, Adobe, and Flash

ValleyWag: What Steve Jobs said during his Wall Street Journal iPad demo

And is there any hope for the future? Well, maybe in an Flash-free world, thanks to the iPad:
Wired: How the iPad is reshaping the internet without Flash

[ Note ] To our knowledge, the above images are not photoshopped, these are real screenshots of Flash freakouts in Mac OS X on various browsers, some from our own OS X Daily staff, reader submissions, forum rants, and web searches. We have personally confirmed many of the Flash problems and we encourage you to verify it yourself by getting on a Mac and loading any Flash intensive site like this, or simply and sadly going to YouTube and playing a video while you have the Activity Monitor open.

Dear Adobe, it may already be too late, but fix Flash on the Mac!

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Posted by: Manish Patel in Mac OS X

33 Comments

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  1. NERD says:

    Looks like business as usual with Flash. I installed a blocker a long time ago.

  2. Ryan says:

    Indeed I was watching the BBC iPlayer a few days ago on me i7 iMac and it was pushing the Flash Player Plugin process (not the browser, which was Chrome btw) up to 280% CPU usage. This was with the 10.1 Beta release which was supposed to fix a lot of the system hogging issues.

    According to an Adobe Flash engineer they are working with Apple (yes the two together!) to resolve the issues but I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation.

  3. Ramiel says:

    A very “lazy” workaround for all video streaming website : Enable html5 when possible (works on Youtube, Dailymotion and Vimeo so far).

  4. Circus says:

    This is just completely unacceptable, how can Adobe think this is OK? No wonder Apple is giving them the old heave-ho…

  5. Adobe obviously doesn’t optimise Flash as much for OSX as they do with Windows (which is no surprise, you can hardly blame them given the market share for the respective platforms), however the CPU usage you see being used isn’t completely their fault.

    You see, there are multiple ways to draw onto the canvas of an application in OSX, with the most efficient being ‘Core Animation’ (which shipped in 10.5.) The problem is, it’s only supported in Safari 4 currently, and the latest stable release of Flash (10.0) doesn’t utilize it, because it was released before Safari. Flash 10.1, however, does have support, and in my rough tests it proved to use upwards of 60% less CPU than 10.0. Chrome’s implementation is apparently on the way.

    I doubt it’ll ever be on par with the Windows version, but Adobe does seem to be taking it seriously.

  6. mefm247 says:

    On Adobe’s defence, it has tried to get GPU support on the Mac version for a very long time, and this possibility has been denied by Apple. Most flash videos on Windows are GPU accelerated, which is why they use considerably less processing power (CPU).
    With the advent of Core Animation, the latest Flash version will reduce CPU usage dramatically.

  7. Ryan says:

    Other video formats and players work fine in OS X without GPU acceleration.

    I think the problem was actually highlighted by Adobe themselves not long ago, I don’t have a link but they stated that the Flash plugin (and the CS in fact) is mostly the same code as the Windows version. In other words what we have on Mac is a Windows port. It’s no wonder it runs like crap.

  8. 911 says:

    I constantly have issues with flash. Youtube glitches all the time, buttons stop working, flash player does not recognize the mouse hovering over items or clicking. I’m almost suspicious something on my computer is just not right – but I’m pretty tech savy – I’m not running any weird 3rd party stuff, perhaps a few browser extensions but nothing crazy. This really needs to be improved.

  9. peter says:

    i can confirm that flash is practically unusable on a mac but works flawlessly on a windows pc.

    adobe just doesn’t care about apple users (unless they can sell them software) so the issue just isn’t urgent for them, the only reason adobe is being defensive now is because apple is openly fighting for a future of the web without flash (thank god) and adobe is going to be left out of the mobile internet completely. sorry adobe i don’t want your crap software on my phone. apple is doing us all a favor, it’s dead technology and it’s a poor user experience.

    out with the old, in with the new.

  10. Smarter than you says:

    You people are absolute moron who don’t understand technology at all.

    This is Apple’s fault. Adobe has tried several times to work with Apple and there are easy ways to fix this. Apple refuses to because Steve doesn’t like anything he doesn’t control. Apple is the one who doesn’t care about its own users’ experience. They know that most of their users are just sheep who know nothing about technology. If Apple users were smart, they would be demanding Apple to fix Flash, but they’re too stupid and will believe whatever garbage Apple tells them.

    • Jay says:

      Smarter than you is obviously smarter than most.

      If the Mac-heads would get their lips off Knob’s ass for a second and pay attention, they’d realize this is Apple’s fault.

      Your uncle Stevie is anti-Flash because it’s a threat to his iTunes and any iCrap that uses it. A lack of Flash allows him to nickle and dime you on things you could run in a web browser if Flash was available.

      Using propaganda, he gets all the iSheep to hate Flash by refusing to work with Adobe to make Flash run better on a Mac.

      Ironic really, were it not for Adobe products all the artsy people wouldn’t bow down to Macs the way they do. Problem for ol’ Stevie is graphic design, print production and web develpoment can be done just as well (and due to Flash issues, better) on a PC than a Mac now.

      Steve continues to ignore other technologies instead of working with the companies who developed them. Best interest for the company instead of the users.

      You bought your Fisher Price computer, now you have to face the consequence of your choice.

      Knobs would have made a great politician, not that I’d ever vote for him.

      Now before you think I’m a Windows preacher, I’m not although I prefer it. Quicktime is the most useless peice of garbage you can run on a PC. Coincidence? Probably not. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was intentional too.

      To those bowing to HTML5, enjoy your wait while missing out on some neat web content in the mean time. But no ads you say? HTML5 will bombard you with them too, so start looking for a blocker now…

      Chronic has a good point to – Flash was not developed to be a video player – it just happened to work well for streaming video. It’s initial purpose was a vector animation tool when Macromedia invented it.

      Finally, I run Flash on my Android phone and it works fine. Think of all the apps I don’t need as a result. I can just surf the web instead. Sure my battery doesn’t last as long, but hey, that’s my choice and I love having it.

      • Jay says:

        I forgot one thing – there are the odd Flash files that will run bad on a PC too.

        Why? They’re not optimized due to poor development. Just like anything else, if it’s not built properly it’s not built properly – simple as that.

        I took a Flash 4 course in 1999 have have been developing with it ever since…

      • Jim Fox says:

        Smarter than you is obviously smarter than most.

        No, he’s a narcissistic twat who can’t spell. Probably smarter than you, still.

    • Jim Fox says:

      Hugely ironic, coming from an illiterate moron who knows not the plural of ‘moron’.

  11. Not as smart as him says:

    In response to “Smarter than you”: I’m one of the “absolute morons” and because I don’t understand technology I ask this about the non-Flash video players and other plug-ins that do not destroy the browser and machine performance – how do _they_ work without this needed cooperation from Apple. What is so special about the thing from Adobe that makes it unfixable without Apple making changes? Why do the “easy ways to fix this” require Apple’s intervention?

  12. Chronic Moronic says:

    Uh… what_is_so _special_ about_Flash_ video_player? Oh yeah! Flash is NOT a video player, that’s it. It’s a software development tool that can play lot’s of video formats, and about a zillion other things. Way different things. I guess apples ≠ oranges still true today. Ask a kid, that’s what I did.

  13. Simon says:

    I’m a little perplexed by this claim that Flash is broken on the Mac. I ran all twenty videos on BB 2.0 simultaneously and Firefox didn’t seem to be in too much distress. It was a little slow browsing webforums and Facebook, but still quite acceptable. Outside of the web browser the computer was running fine. The CPU was 32–37% idle.

    I have no explanation at all for this discrepancy: I’ve never had a single issue with Flash, on four different Mac computers. My current desktop computer is an iMac with a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (OS 10.6, using Firefox 3.6.3).

    As for Firefox being the worst, that does remind me of one small issue I had in Flash – one particular Flash game in Google Chrome (during my “Facebook is broken on Firefox” hiatus from Firefox) was a bit laggy, but ran fine in Firefox.

  14. Mark says:

    I used to run my G4 Powerbook on a cooling stand with a nice quiet built in fan which kept it cool enough that the internal fan would almost never kick in. I left it on one day, as usual, with a couple of browser tabs open and went away to watch TV for a couple of hours. Came back to find the internal fan was screaming away on max and the casing positively hot to the touch. I closed one browser tab that contained a small (250px) but fairly energetic flash banner running, and the fan immediately went down to half, switching off entirely after 60 seconds, the casing again cool to the touch.

    Flash broken on the mac? Very.

  15. Andy says:

    It’s not that Adobe don’t care about Apple, it’s that Apple don’t care about Adobe. In fact, even firefox discovered that one reason why Safari was so much faster on OSX was because Apple used undocumented API’s.

  16. jafar says:

    yea flash f*cks up my mac. eats up the cpu

  17. [...] use Adobe products frequently but I for one am happy to see Flash left behind. Flash performance on a Mac is abysmal to say the least, and considering the popularity of Flash blockers for the Mac, I know [...]

  18. Fishcake says:

    As a long time windows users, I generally don’t have any problems with Flash using browsers like Chrome or even IE. The problem with Flash on MacOSX is that there is no hardware acceleration/support for flash container of any type, even if its using h.264. You can see with the recent beta update of Flash player for mac that it has somewhat of an access to the GPU due to apple revealing new APIS, but its what some people say, Apple has undocumented APIS that many plugins, such as Flash, needs support on in order for it to run stable.

    All this talk about proprietary technology, nobody really sees what Apple is trying to do with their stuff. While i admit, there should be some form of control, as open source isn’t that quickly to catch on with majority of consumers because of their varieties, its just these companies need to work together on it.

    That reminds me, Chrome runs like crap on OSX, but flawless on windows.. go figure

  19. Rick Canon says:

    Flash runs smooth in Windows
    Flash runs like poo in Mac.

    Oh yeah on windows it is a very low percentage
    And on mac it goes up to 100%

    Think about that!

  20. [...] never fixes the Flash Plug-in holes and CPU hog either on PC or Mac in time. Here’s just what I experience much too [...]

  21. [...] topic of Flash, check it out. It makes some interesting points. Personally, it is my opinion that Flash is a dying commodity and that open standards are always going to prevail over closed technologies when it comes to the [...]

  22. [...] As you’ll soon be able to tell, I am annoyed with Adobe Update Manager, and thankfully I found a way to disable it completely. In case you didn’t know, Adobe Update Manager starts itself automatically on system launch and takes over your Mac while it sorts out whatever it does that I don’t want it to do, it’s the very definition of annoying. [...]

  23. I have always said buying a Mac is like buying a car with the hood welded shut. Macs are just custom computers in pretty cases built for people with no knowledge or interest in the engine of computers. Complaining that Mac is incapable of handling simple flash animation is like complaining to Chevron that your car gets bad gas mileage. It’s not Chevron’s fault you bought a lemon. Macintosh needs to play ball and make Flash work if they want to survive.

  24. [...] Quick Tip for New Mac Users from the Windows World Until new Mac users are more familiar with Spotlight and how their Mac works, I often recommend recent switchers keep Activity Monitor in their Dock for easy access. The good news is you will rarely use Activity Monitor, since Mac OS and applications within it run much better than Windows, but it’s good to have it readily available in case something goes haywire (like Flash messing up Safari or another web browser). [...]

  25. [...] you ever find that Safari crashes, blame Flash. Ok all jokes aside, if Safari has crashed in the midst of browsing the web, you can restore your [...]

  26. [...] See The Flash Wall of Shame. Some still try to defend it though e.g. Solving Flash problems on a Mac. Cheers, -Michl [...]

  27. [...] when people complain about Flash it’s regarding the abysmal performance (particularly on Mac OS X) when playing Flash elements, games, and videos. The easiest solution for [...]

  28. Mr Poon says:

    Cracks me up how the macheads blame flash for their computer CPU getting used up. Sounds like a mac problem to me. I don’t prefer either system over the other, but macheads remind me of obamabots. Neither can do wrong.

  29. joshbgosh10592 says:

    Yes I understand this is a very old forum, however those that don’t understand technology need to butt out. Windows and Mac OS X use completely different technology when it comes to programs, kernels, and basically everything else. This is why a windows .exe will not work on a Mac. Yes Apple wants to keep Flash away from Mac and iOS devices because flash is a memory hog. Macromedia (the original writer of flash) wrote flash for Windows first, and then ported it to Mac. As many people may know, ports rarely work as well as they do on the native. This is a combined ‘effort’ of why Flash sucks on an Apple device. However, try running a flash object on ANY Unix OS such as Fedora or Ubuntu. You will see your system crawl. Adobe needs to write the Flash better for Mac, and Apple needs to work with them to do whatever they need to do. That would be my comment if Flash isn’t dead. HTML5 is out and on the upswing. HTML5 will take over Flash (Thank God!) and we will not have to worry about Flash hogging any machine.

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