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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