TIP: Opera browser and Flash (TM) on slow computers

This tip is especially useful for people who surf the web on older hardware (e.g. 500Mhz PIII with 128MB RAM). For example, while editing a post on LinuxQuestions.org, I noticed extreme lag between my typing and the text appearing on the screen. Then I noticed one of those fancy-pants flash adds was running, wasting so much precious computing power that I could’t type normally.

The problem is that I do need flash to be able to run when I don’t care too much about the responsiveness of my old computer. For example, when I am *not* typing a reply to a linux question, but instead want to watch a funny flash animation.

So what I need is a way to disable flash only on certain sites, instead of disabling it completely. And this is (almost) what the Opera browser allows me to do: in opera, you can opt to disable *all* plug-ins for a specific site. The disadvantage of this is that you throw out the baby with the bath water: all the plugins that *don’t* cause problems are also disabled! But at least you can control this on a per-site basis, which still makes it a very useful feature, and this is how you access it:

First in the menubar, select “Tools” => “Preferences” => “Advanced” => “Content” => “Manage site preferences”
Then type the name of the site you want to disable flash for, and click on “Add”.
Enter the site’s URL, and click on the “Content” tab. There, you *deselect* the tick-box “Enable plug-ins” and click on “OK”.
Close all the dialogue windows and restart Opera.

And that’s all there is to it.

In the comments below, two quicker methods for achieving the same effect are discussed, as well as one alternative method that may be used when disabling the browser plug-ins is not an option (e.g. when the site contains non-flash multimedia that you want to play).


9 Responses to TIP: Opera browser and Flash (TM) on slow computers

  1. Reinier says:


    actually, Opera 9 now has a rather specific content blocking feature. Right-click on a flash banner and choose ‘block content’; you can now block that specific banner. More here:

  2. Menzonius says:

    That’s a great tip, thanks! Only I noticed that it doesn’t specifically disable the flash plugin on the whole site. So after I’ve gone through the trouble of blocking flash content on one section of a website, I find that there are more flash adds for me to block on other sections. Which makes sense, considering how the “block content” feature seems to work. Yet what I’d really want is a way to block all flash content for the whole site, every single section of it, with one click. Unfortunately, the method I discussed is the only thing that seems to come close. On the other hand, the content blocking feature does provide more finegrained control, which is probably more convenient in certain cases than just indiscriminantly disabling the whole kit’n-kaboodle ;)
    So thanks again for pointing it out!

  3. Reinier says:

    Yeah, you’re right, this solution is more banner-centric than site-centric. Certainly interesting in its own way, but not solving the problem at hand.

    Searching a bit further, I now found a better solution: go to ‘tools’ > ‘quick preferences’ > ‘Edit site preferences’ > ‘Content’ > uncheck ‘Enable plugins’. Though this disables all plugins, not only flash, and is certainly more than one click away, it seems to work. It disables all plugins and flash on that particular site.

  4. Reinier says:

    Oops. Bit too quick posting my previous comment, since that was about the same as in your article. But it’s a bit quicker and you don’t need a browser restart, just a page refresh.

  5. Menzonius says:

    That sure is quicker, but I think I’ve found another slightly faster method: Simply right-click on the page with the flash content you want to block, then select “Edit site preferences” and go to the “Content” tab, where you uncheck “Enable plug-ins”.
    I think I’ll edit the blog entry to point to the discussion of these alternatives in the comments. Thanks for suggesting them!

  6. PK says:

    Actually, there is a MUCH quicker way: Just press F12 and select Enable plug-ins. Or for those of you who like keyboards, just press F12 and then U.

  7. Menzonius says:

    Pressing F12 seems to indiscriminately disable the plugins for every site, which is exactly what I did not want. Editing site preferences, on the other hand, makes opera remember which sites may load plugins and which may not. In the long run, as Opera learns my preferences, this will be faster and more efficient.
    But thanks for the tip anyway!

  8. Levent says:

    What we actually need is an extension like Flashblock in Firefox.

  9. Animated Emoticons says:

    Blogs like this are why I use the internet.

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