Turn Flash Off in OS X: NoScript for Firefox and SafariBlock for Safari

January 10th, 2007 § 10 |

One of the banes of the modern web are Flash advertisements. They are popping up all over the place, from the New York Times to our beloved MacSurfer.com. I have nothing against advertising but I don’t like anything which makes it impossible to read or difficult to work on one’s computer.

I’ve been searching for a way to easily turn flash off yet keep my computer stable. With the amount of Flash video turning up on the web, I am not as tempted as I used to be to just rip the Flash code right out of my plugin folder.

In any case, for work reasons, I have to keep Flash around just to see what other people are doing with their sites.

Until two weeks ago, I still hadn’t found anything lightweight to kill Flash in either Safari or Firefox, my two primary browsers. But good things come in twos. There are two great plugins to kill Flash, one for Firefox and one for Safari.

Amazingly enough, neither have destabilised my browser.

Minus the flashing lights and used car salesman in the side bars, I might even start liking the web again.

Firefox

I was trying to deal with a javascript problem in Safari while working over an invoice in the excellent Freshbooks. I was wondering if there wasn’t a better javascript browser under OS X. I found this lovely performance graph over at Macintalk.com.

Osx-Browser-Performance-Test
Osx-Browser-Performance-Test

*

There was a lot of talk about web browsers, quite boring really, unless you are a geek or a web developer. But there was one gem in there:

I keep trying to leave Firefox, but I can’t browse any more without the noscript extension. Even on Linux, Firefox is a dog, but noscript is just too good to browse without. (At least Firefox is a universal binary now). Noscript disables all javascript by default and allows you to easily turn it back on on a server by server basis. Adblock is good, but lots of browsers do that now. noscript seems to be unique.**

Here is a link to NoScript.

Most media sites seems to be programmed by horned devils these days. There must be seven scritps running per page. Frankly even our own sites have too many (2) javascripts running. Frankly 90% of these scripts are useful to the people who wrote them but no use to the visitor. They slow down page loads but even worse they cripple the visitors computer, causing CPU loads to spike for minutes at a time. Even my dual processor G5 2.5 GHz regularly shows processor load of 30% to 80% just browsing with Safari or Firefox.

But turning off all javascript all the time isn’t a very good option for somebody who uses productivity sites, like our project management system or Statcounter or our current photo solution.

I had never realised there was a tool out there to allow the user to selectively allow scripts for certain sites and turn them off for all other sites.

Even more astonishing than ScriptBlock’s script blocking capabilities is its ability to block flash. With just a simple checkmark all flash is gone from Firefox unless you click on it:

No-More-Flash-Os-X
No-More-Flash-Os-X

All past flash blockers I’ve looked at for Firefox have been buggy and top heavy.

Lightweight Flash blocking in Firefox at last!!!

Safari

If you are looking for lightweight flash blocking in Safari, look no further than SafariBlock. If anything Flash is even more pernicious in Safari than in Firefox as Flash well and truly cripples Safari. A single Flash page lurking somewhere in a background tab and your computer is brought to its knees, difficult to even switch between tabs to find the offending animation.

Safari-Block-Flash
Safari-Block-Flash

Flash in Safari gone as well.

Yes, I did donate. And if you hate Flash, you should too.


* Frankly I don’t find Omnniweb as fast as that nor Firefox as slow as that. But this test was performed with just a single page open so it doesn’t really reflect real world browsing. At lesat not for me. I rarely have less than ten tabs open.

**I don’t agree with the poster about Firefox. The web development extensions are a godsend. But for speed reasons, Safari has become my default browser. I have keyboard shortcuts to switch back and forth between the two browsers and stay on the same page.

§ 10 Responses to “Turn Flash Off in OS X: NoScript for Firefox and SafariBlock for Safari”

  • Eric says:

    You recommend “SafariBlock” but the link you give and the illustrations you give indicate “SafariPlus” by jrc Software.

    It is an unfortunate confusion, since there actually is a “SafariBlock” plugin made by FSB Software that also does blocking of flash, etc.
    link to fsbsoftware.com

    One possible advantage of SafariBlock for some is that version v1.13 can still be used with OS 10.3.x, whereas SafariPlus requires 10.4.

    I’m curious about what you think of how the Flashblock addon for Firefox compares with Noscript, if one is simply trying to control flash animations. Flashblock does allow setting sites where Flash is not blocked (as well as allowing any individual blocked flash to be turned on).

  • Eric says:

    you don’t seem to mention the Flashblock addon for Firefox. I use it currently (version 1.5.2) without trouble and have Greatly appreciated the difference of flash ad free browsing for not bogging down my computers (mac or windows).

    I’m on 10.3.9 for my mac, so SafariPlus is not an option for me. One that appears to be an option is the v1.13 version of the SafariBlock that is made by FSB Software.

    But I notice that your article recommends “SafariBlock” while (apparently) talking about SafariPlus.

    Being a Mac fan, I also note with irony that installing the Flashblock addon for Firefox is simplicity itself, even on Windows, using the standard addon selection page of Firefox, whereas some Safari addons install, upgrade, and/or uninstall with instructions that read more like what I would expect from Windows. (Start with this directory, find this folder, then copy this obscurely named file, etc., etc.) Its certainly doable if you follow the instructions, but I expected a different experience in the mac world regarding Safari addons. Safari is made by Apple, after all.

  • Alec says:

    Hello Eric,

    You are quite right. I am talking about SafariPlus. I’ll go back and correct this article later.

    I am happier with SafariPlus as it needs less fiddling. Although to be honest, it was interfering with viewing/using certain sites (actually making Safari misbehave in terms of speed or memory) and I’ve disabled SafariPlus for now.

    Nothing really works as well as a combination of NoScript and AdBlock on Firefox. I’m back to viewing sites with heavy advertising content on Firefox these days.

  • Eric says:

    Thanks for the comment. About Firefox, you said “Nothing really works as well as a combination of NoScript and AdBlock on Firefox.”

    I’m setting up a PC for someone else who is a computer novice. Since I have been using Flashblock with Firefox without problem, and have appreciated that it is simple while still allowing a white list of unblocked sites, I’ve been planning to incorporate it.

    But if there are reasons why the other two (NoScript + AdBlock) might be preferable to Flashblock, I would still be interested to understand the differences and tradeoffs. Perhaps if I understood what you liked better about the other two or how they distinguish themselves from Flashblock, it might persuade me to incorporate them instead.

    I welcome your thoughts on how they compare to each other.

    Best regards,
    Eric

  • Alec says:

    Hello Eric

    There are some known problems with FlashBlock documented. See the bottom of the page. Some are quite serious.

    What I like about NoScript is that it gives you control of JavaScript and Flash in a single extension. The fewer toys the better.

    What I don’t like about it is that it is that I think it may be slowing down new window opening. The only way to be sure would be to disable all my extensions and just enable NoScript.

    As my computer is running more or less well now, I am not inclined to do this. I just disabled a bunch of extensions yesterday.

  • Giorgio says:

    Hi,
    My name is Giorgio Maone and I’m the author of NoScript.

    I’ve just read you review on addons.mozilla.org, and I would like you to try to disable Firebug for a while: you’ll immediately notice an incredible burst in Firefox performance.

    Really, I’m a Firebug enthusiast but I enable it only when I need to debugsome page, because otherwise navigation is unbearable. As you correctly guessed the second most likely culprit for your slowness is
    AdBlock.

    NoScript, on the other hand, is very optimized performance-wise, and its impact on window opening is absolutely negligible and unperceivable (try ona clean profile with just NoScript), especially if compared to any of the extensions you named.

  • Alec says:

    Hey Giorgio,

    I agree with you. Strangely enough last week, I finally got fed up with my leaden Firefox and disabled almost everything (29/36 bit the dust). AdBlock remained, WebDeveloper and SEO for Firefox.

    Even with AdBlock still enabled, Firefox is spiffy again. I didn’t know which extension was the molasses in the pudding. Your suggestion that is Firebug is highly likely.

    So everybody – when you install NoScript cut back on your other extensions and slowly add the other ones back in.

    Now that I have Giorgio’s info, I am going to try to disable AdBlock plus and get by with NoScript alone. All the really bad ads these days are Flash.

  • Jeff Yamada says:

    Ironically I’m searching for a utility to turn flash player on and off on the fly for testing ( I’m a flash developer ). I’d like to stand up for flash when used well, but I agree that banners and the like are insanely annoying at times, especially the ones that jump into the middle of a page. I would also say that much like anything, when done poorly flash can be horrible, it can be done save, nicely and purposefully too.

  • CW says:

    for flash in safari clicktoflash

  • alec says:

    I agree CW. Click to Flash is great and so is SafariStand. I’m using SafariStand to block flash while on my GF’s computer I have Click to Flash installed.

§ Leave a Reply