A Life Without Flash

I was getting ready to write a post about uninstalling Flash from my MacBook Pro as inspired by Mr. Gruber (See his original post here). In that post he discussed using Google Chrome and Mac keyboard shortcuts to get around not having Flash in Safari. It turns out that Chrome's built-in Flash rendering does a good job and is easy to quit out of - meaning is it does the job and then quits when you quit the app, instead of draining batteries and eating up CPU cycles. It is a good solution, but not necessarily an elegant one.

Before I got that post even half written, Mr. Gruber posted this in which he discusses a more elegant workaround. It turns out that you can use Safari's Developer menu to make web servers think that instead of Desktop Safari, you're accessing them with Mobile Safari. In this case, the iPad.

You can read his post for a complete set of instructions on how to do this. It is a lot easier that you may think, and he describes it very well. I'll just go on a bit about my experience with(out) Flash...

Through these workarounds, I've not really missed Flash very much at all. Between uninstalling Flash, and replacing the faulty GPU fan in the MacBook a couple of weeks ago, I almost never hear much more than a whisper from the fans anymore. But the most noticeable difference is how much better video looks in HTML5 than in Flash. Even in full-screen, video on Vimeo or Youtube, or any other site really, looks crisper and cleaner. It runs without any stuttering of video or audio. It is really a striking difference. I used to not be able to watch anything above 480 on Youtube, but now I just go ahead and crank it to the highest resolution without any ill effects at all.

I had the same experience that Gruber states he has had:

I’ve removed Flash from my system, and suggest you do the same, because of two facts:

1. Without Flash installed, my Mac uses less ambient CPU power. The machine runs cooler, faster, and the battery lasts longer.

2. Video that plays back via the HTML5 video tag instead of Flash Player is smoother and uses less power. My MacBook Pro’s fan almost always kicks in when I play 720p video via Flash. It almost never kicks in when I play 720p video without Flash.

Those two facts are beyond dispute.

Some sites, though, just won't work without resorting to Google Chrome. Here's what Hulu.com looks like in Safari without flash...

Hulu Safari

And here's what you get when you trick Hulu into thinking your using an iPad...

Hulu Mobile Safari

As soon as you move to Chrome, though, Hulu works just fine. For me that's fine because I haven't watched more than about an hour of Hulu content in the last year. But either way, I can get any and all Flash content without having that memory and cycle hog on my machine, making my fans go crazy.

Life without Flash is really nice. I highly recommend Mac owners go ahead and get rid of Flash entirely. You won't miss it.