2 April, 2015
By Joe Callison
Browser plugins provide additional features to your browser and come from various companies. Some are good to have, and some are not. A previous post about free software provided a link to a Junkware Removal Tool that will automatically remove the bad ones, or you can disable them manually as described in the screen shot below. At present, the plugins are not automatically updated for you, though sometimes you may see a message in your browser that a plugin is out of date and needs to be updated. The Firefox screen shot below indicates that in the future they will be adding automatic updates of plugins. This post provides a guide for checking the status of your browser plugins and manually updating them. The Firefox screen shot explains why you should update your plugins, so there is no need to repeat it.
The three horizontal bars in the top right of your Firefox or Chrome browser gets you to the menu. Firefox may also have a menu bar at the top left or across the bottom as shown below. Any of these can get you to the Add-ons where the Plugins are found in Firefox. Chrome and Internet Explorer are described further down in this post.
Clicking on Plugins brings them up in a list. At the top of the list, there is text that says “Check to see if your plugins are up to date.”
Clicking on the text will bring up this display showing the status of each plugin. Note that the Adobe Flash Player needs to be updated, while Java and Adobe Reader are up to date.
Clicking on the Update Now for Adobe Flash Player brings up the following:
Note the Optional offer of McAfee Security Scan Plus that is checked. If you do not want the optional offer, click on the check mark to uncheck it before clicking on the “Install now” button.
To get the plugin list in Chrome, type in chrome://plugins as below:
Note that the Adobe Shockwave Player is indicating that a critical security update needs to be downloaded. Click on the “Download Critical Security Update” and you get the following:
Note that an optional free offer for Norton Security Scan is included. Again, uncheck the check mark before clicking the Agree button if you do not want the offer.
For Internet Explorer, you can get to the add-ons through the browser menu that opens by clicking on the icon that looks like a gear in the top right, choose Internet Options, click the Programs tab, and then click the Manage add-ons button, but a simpler way is to go to Control Panel, Network and Internet, and then “Manage browser add-ons” under the Internet Options as shown on the following screen.
In the display that comes up, click on the “Manage add-ons” button:
A list of the add-ons will be displayed as below.
It is good to know about this alternate method of getting into Internet Options because sometimes Internet Explorer will not open because of malware and you can click on Internet Options to change settings without needing to open the browser. Under the Advanced tab is a Reset button that will restore Internet Explorer to its default condition, which will usually fix the problem, but you will lose your bookmarks, history, saved passwords, add-ons, etc.
If you would like free software or browser plugins that automatically check and update your browser plugins, they are available also. A comparison of a few can be found at the following link: