How to Disable All Safari Browser Plug-Ins on Mac

May 13, 2017 - 3 Comments

Safari icon

Safari on the Mac has the ability to run third party plug-ins, some of which may perform additional services and bring additional functionality to the web experience. Plug-ins include things like Flash Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and other similar multimedia tools that are added into the browser. While some web sites may require these plug-ins, they are generally not needed for most modern web experiences, and old plugins can lead to security issues or other problems with web browsing and app stability. For that reason, troubleshooting, and others, it can be helpful to disable plug-ins in Safari on the Mac.

We’ll focus on disabling all Safari plug-ins on the Mac by turning them off completely, irrespective of which are installed or running. This is a blunt approach as it turns off all plug-ins in the Safari browser entirely.


A quick note; Safari plug-ins are completely different from Safari Extensions – yes the names sound similar but they are entirely different. Extensions usually modify browser functionality, whereas plug-ins are usually aimed at third party multimedia support. If you want to turn off Safari extensions you can do that here. Turning off plug-ins has no impact on unrelated extensions, and vice versa.

How to Turn Off All Browser Plug-ins in Safari for Mac

This will disable all active plugins and also prevent plugins from running.

  1. Open the Safari app on the Mac if you have not done so already
  2. Pull down the “Safari” menu and choose “Preferences”
  3. Go to the “Security” tab
  4. Uncheck the box next to “Internet plug-ins” so that ‘Allow Plug-ins’ is unchecked and turned off
  5. Exit Preferences and use Safari as usual

How to disable all Safari plugins on the Mac

For best results, you’ll likely want to quit and relaunch Safari.

Of course if you don’t have any Safari plugins installed then there is nothing to turn off, but toggling the switch will prevent any plugins from running should they end up installed anyway.

The vast majority of Mac users do not need to install any plug-ins into Safari, and old or poorly maintained plugins can cause various annoyances ranging from Safari “Not Responding” errors to much more significant Safari freezes and crashes.

This obviously covers disabling all plugins in Safari but you can actually disable specific plug-ins on the Mac too, and you can also remove specific plug-ins if you don’t need them or no longer use them. Adjusting plug-ins can be done in the same Preferences window by choosing the “Plug-in Settings” option, perhaps we’ll cover that more in detail down the road.

My personal preference is to not install Flash, Reader, or any other third party plug-in into Safari. Instead, what I do is have a completely separate browser like Google Chrome which has Flash sandboxed within the app, and only use it when I must use Flash for whatever reason – a remarkably rare situation since HTML5 and other modern web technologies have been adopted.

Have any other Safari plug-in tips? Let us know in the comments!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

3 Comments

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  1. expobill says:

    Does setting the plug in option for “ask” help keep my mba secure?

    • Oui Oui says:

      The “Ask” setting just asks before loading, but the plug-in still exists in the browser which could be an issue. The most secure setting is to not allow any plug-ins in Safari at all. You probably don’t need browser plugins. If you do need Flash for some reason (why?), use the Chrome browser up to date, which sandboxes flash, specifically for using the flash websites.

      • expobill says:

        thanks, i will disable them on the mac mini-but will still refrain from using anything google related.

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