How to watch web videos after uninstalling Flash
The mobile web doesn’t need Flash. Modern iPads, iPhones, and Android devices do not support Flash, and web developers offer HTML5 videos to serve these devices. But desktop browsers won’t always get them by default, even if you uninstall Flash.
Uninstalling Flash isn’t for everyone, but most websites now work without it. If you don’t want to uninstall Flash, at least make sure activate click-to-play plug-ins. Use an anti-exploit program can also help block nasty zero-day flash exploits.
Pretend to be a mobile browser without Flash
Most websites should have mobile-friendly versions for iPad, iPhone, and Android device users. These mobile-friendly websites will never use Flash. Websites with Flash video players typically offer HTML5 video players that work in your web browser.
This trick won’t work everywhere, but it will work on most modern websites. These websites should give modern browsers the HTML5 video player instead of Flash anyway, but they often don’t. If Flash is not installed, websites will often ask you to install it.
This is not necessary on all websites. YouTube and Netflix, for example, have both made the switch to HTML5 video on modern browsers and no longer need Flash or Silverlight. Some websites that normally use Flash will automatically offer HTML5 video if you uninstall it.
Change your user agent
Your browser has a “user agent“, which is the identity it reports to web servers. For example, if you are using a Windows PC with Firefox, your web browser tells the web server that it is a Windows PC with Firefox when it If you are using Safari on an iPad, Safari tells the web server that it is Safari on an iPad when it logs in. Web servers can then send different web pages to different devices.
To get those mobile-optimized webpages with HTML5 videos that you can probably play without Flash, you just need to pretend to be an iPad. You can also impersonate an Android tablet, but iPads are more likely to be supported.
You can change the user agent for your browser in several ways. Modern browsers have built-in user agent switches, although they are not always easy to access. You may want to install a browser extension like User Agent Switch for Chrome or User Agent Switch for Firefox to make it easier. Here is how to enable Safari user agent selector.
You can speed this up in other ways. User agent switching extensions allow you to configure a list of websites where your browser can automatically use a specific user agent. So, if you regularly visit a website that requires you to switch user agents to view videos, you can configure your browser extension to automatically masquerade as an iPad.
Safari also lets you assign a keyboard shortcut to its user agent selector. To configure this, open the System Preferences window, select Keyboard and select Shortcuts. Under App shortcuts, click the + button to add a new shortcut, select the Safari app, and enter the exact title of the menu option you want to use as it is currently labeled in Safari – when this article was written, it was “Safari iOS 8.1 – iPad.” Provide a keyboard shortcut and you’re done.
Unfortunately, this will not always work perfectly. In particular, it may depend on the browser you are using. For example, Firefox may not work as well as Chrome and Safari for this – Chrome and Safari are more similar to mobile browsers on iOS and Android. If you try this in Firefox and it doesn’t work, try Chrome instead.
If you try this in Chrome and it doesn’t work, you can try Safari, assuming you’re using a Mac. Safari for Mac is the most similar to Safari browser for iPad for which most mobile sites will be optimized. For example, Twitch.tv offers HTML5 videos, but only in Safari on Mac OS X.
Some other sites may refuse to provide you with a video in a web browser and ask you to install a mobile app instead. In some cases, you may just be able to use an app. For example, if you’re using Windows 10, 8.1, or 8 and want to watch Hulu without having Flash enabled in any of your web browsers, you can just grab the Hulu app from the Windows Store and use it instead.
This trick doesn’t always work, but it will work most of the time, especially for Flash videos. If that doesn’t work, the webpage is probably so old that it won’t even work well on modern tablets and smartphones.
Flash games just won’t work – they can’t be easily ported to HTML5. Websites that use Flash for navigation – many old restaurant websites, for example – are fortunately disappearing. If you meet any of them, they can provide you with a mobile version that doesn’t require Flash if your browser claims to be an iPad or a smartphone.