How to remove Flash from Windows 10

As many of you have discovered by now, Microsoft surreptitiously added the Flash player in an update well after the upgrade to Windows 10. It isn’t possible to remove it using the standalone uninstaller from Adobe as in previous versions as this is now baked into Edge, Microsoft’s new browser… almost.

It is possible, to remove the plugin, but it requires a fair bit of manual labor to do so. First, go to Edge and select options (the . . . ) and follow the steps to make sure the Flash is turned off.

edgsettings

Edge > Options > Settings

Scroll down and click on

Scroll down and click on “View advanced settings”

Make sure Flash is turned off.

Make sure Flash is turned off.

Now the fun part

Microsoft has set ownership permissions for all the files we need to delete so that none of them can be removed without changing them first. The files we need to delete are located in the following places :

  • C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash
  • C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash

In each of these directories, you should see these files :

  • activex.vch
  • Flash.ocx
  • FlashUtil_ActiveX.dll
  • FlashUtil_ActiveX.exe

You may also see FlashInstall.log. Trying to delete these will give you a permission denied error. To change that, follow these steps. Be advised that you’ll have to follow these steps for each of those files individually as Microsoft has made it very difficult to collectively apply the same permissions by inheritance.

Right click > Properties > Select the

Right click > Properties > Select the “Security” tab. Click “Advanced”.

Note on top how the current owner is

Note on top how the current owner is “TrustedInstaller” (the biggest oxymoron in software if there ever was one).
Click on “change” to take ownership.

You'll be presented with the familiar user selection box. Click

You’ll be presented with the familiar user selection box.
Click “Advanced”.

flash4

…and “Find Now”.

Select your username and click

Select your username and click “OK”

...and then

…and then “OK” again on the user box.

You’re now the owner of the file to delete, but that’s not enough. You need to change the principal access.

Select the

Select the “Auditing” tab and click “Add”.

Click

Click “Select a principal”. We’ll have to do the same user selection song and dance we did before (“Advanced”, “Find Now” etc…)

But now we can check

But now we can check “Full control”.

Once you've done this, click

Once you’ve done this, click “OK” and then back at the “Auditing” tab…

...click

…click “Apply”.

You'll see a security dialog saying you'll need to close and reopen the security properties. That's fine (it's the least of our worries at this point). Click

You’ll see a security dialog saying you’ll need to close and reopen the security properties. That’s fine (it’s the least of our worries at this point). Click “OK” on the dialog and back at the “Auditing” tab and move on.

Close all the dialogs. Right click on the file again and select

Close all the dialogs. Right click on the file again and select “Properties” and select the “Security” tab as before. Click on “Edit” and you’ll see this.

Now you should be able change the permissions by selecting your username and checking

Now you should be able change the permissions by selecting your username and checking “Full control”

You’ll get a warning dialog. Just click “OK” on it and click on “OK” on the permissions box too. You can now delete that file.

Whew!

Cleaning the control panel

You’ll still see the FlashPlayer utilty in the control panel so to remove that, go to C:\Windows\SysWOW64 and delete:

  • FlashPlayerApp.exe
  • FlashPlayerCPLApp.cpl

Keep in mind, however, that there’s nothing preventing Microsoft from installing Flash on your system again. You don’t own proprietary software. Yes it’s your computer and you may pay for it (well, Windows 7, since this is a free upgrade), but you don’t own it if you can’t control what’s on your system how it gets there. Further, Windows 10 is as close to Software as a Service as you’ll get while still having something installed. It’s the most invasive in terms of your privacy as well, but there are mitigations you can take.

For your next operating system, may I suggest Linux Mint?

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27 thoughts on “How to remove Flash from Windows 10

  1. Nice to hear from you again. There is one important step you missed that would save all this trouble: avoid Windows at all costs! ;-)

    Especially Windows 10. Don’t install it. Don’t upgrade to it. And yes, format the hard drives and install Linux. Nothing as insulting as having to pay for what is not yours to begin with. Thanks, but no thanks Microsoft, aka TrustedInstaller NOT!

    • Hey Steve! Yes indeed, we’ve been away for a long time ;)

      I’ve been trying to stave off an upgrade at work, but it looks like most of my concerns are falling on deaf ears. Unless we can be sure there’s a way to lock it down, I’d avoid Windows too.

      • I don’t have to worry about that at work – they are still on XP! Not that I care what they do with their computers mind you ;)

  2. After my yahoo account was hacked, probably via flash, I decided to remove flash. But I couldn’t believe how ridiculously difficult this was on Windows 10. I don’t know what went wrong with windows (wasn’t it based on a good DEC operating system?) but I hate it so much now. Thanks for the instructions.

    • Did you try running wuauclt.exe /detectnow /updatenow from the command line?

      I’ve already moved away from Windows 10, so I can’t verify that. Sometimes that works without further issues. Of course, that might still cause partial installations, but that has to be taken in a case-by-case basis.

  3. The following batch needs admin rights and does everything after deactivated flash in Egde

    # take ownership
    takeown /f C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash\*.*
    takeown /f C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\*.*
    # extend access
    cacls C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash\*.* /E /T /G %UserDomain%\%UserName%:F
    cacls C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\*.* /E /T /G %UserDomain%\%UserName%:F
    # delete
    del C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash\*.* /Q
    del C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\*.* /Q
    rd C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash
    rd C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash
    rd C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed
    rd C:\Windows\System32\Macromed
    del C:\Windows\SysWOW64\FlashPlayerApp.exe
    del C:\Windows\SysWOW64\FlashPlayerCPLApp.cpl

  4. You will also have to search-and-remove related entries (“Adobe”, “Flash”, “Macromed”) in the registry and WinSXS folder and Windows Update components for thorough and complete removal. Otherwise the Windows Update service may still detect the Flash component and decide that your system needs Flash-related security updates, which may cause trouble.

    I have done it all manually (which is very tedious) and haven’t had any issues with subsequent updates.

    Someone at Adobe/Microsoft MUST provide a proper uninstaller.

  5. Thank you so much for this blog post – incredibly helpful.

    It is ridiculous what Microsoft is doing to Windows 10 – the steps that you outlined to delete Flash are beyond absurd. Thank you again for taking the time to do this.

  6. After removing this, I’m now getting an error from the recent Windows update, which included a security patch to the built-in version of Flash. It says it can’t install the update (naturally!)… any ideas on how to get rid of this update from showing in the Windows Update list?

    Thanks!

  7. I already Have Linux Mint. Windows 10 is getting wiped today.
    (Windows 10 and The Twilight Zone)

    Do not attempt to adjust your computer
    …WE control the programs
    …We control the settings
    …DO NOT attempt to uninstall anything…

  8. all you should do is a command:

    dism /online /remove-package /packagename:Adobe-Flash-For-Windows-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~10.0.14393.0

    and the world is clean now. the package name depends on the version of win10 (10.0, 10.1, 10.2…)

  9. I had Windows Update getting upset as well. It was happening for almost a month before I noticed it.

    After much investigation, it turns out that Linda’s almost right – the DISM removal scheme is very easy (compared to manually changing folder permissions) but it won’t work without changing some registry keys first. (This is true at least on my 64-bit Win 10 Pro machine.)

    See https://deploymentparts.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/remove-builtin-apps-from-windows-10-reference-image/ for the full info – scroll down to the section “How to really remove the system apps” for the four required registry changes which basically are taking ownership of the registry key, changing Visibility, adding DefVis, and (crucially) removing the Owners list. I know that at least the first and last of these are crucial as it was failing with “Access denied” until I changed the permissions, and then “Only package owners can remove package” until I found that web page and then I just made the final three changes in one hit. Obviously you’ll want to substitute Adobe-Flash…. where that particular paragraph uses Microsoft-Windows-ContactSupport… – the package name you’ll want is the full name you’ll see under HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Component Based Servicing\Packages. (I can’t remember the full name on my machine and I can’t see it any more cos it’s gone :-D)

    NB: because I had already manually removed the f***ing files using this page as a guide, the DISM removal failed the first time through. But (hilariously) it automagically rolled back the whole transaction and REINSTALLED the files for me. So… yes, the second time it worked beautifully! No more Windows Update errors.

    (To be honest, I only really gave a toss about the errors initially because I believed that they were preventing ALL updates from working. I now realise that wasn’t true but hey wth, it’s gone now, I learned lots of fun crap about Windows Component Based Servicing, and I um, wasted some hours of my life…)

    PS: how confident am I that it will never return? Hmm…

  10. unfortunately, right-clicking on the files no longer gives you access to ownership. MS removed the security tab from the properties dialog

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