Web Plug-ins

Some websites that use more sophisticated content, such as streaming video, enhanced functionality and interactivity, and complex animations, require what are known as “plug-in”.  Plug-ins are extra components that add specific features to programs such as web browsers, which we will discuss here.  The most popular plug-in use on the internet today is Macromedia’s Flash player, which is used to create interactive menus and content, as well as to deliver streaming video and more robust content experiences. 

Generally, when you come across a webpage that requires a specific plug-in to function correctly, that webpage will check your browser for it.  If it finds it, the webpage or content will continue to load and you may continue on normally.  If you don’t have the plug-in installed, the page will usually tell you so, and will either download the plug-in for you (after asking for your approval), or direct you to a webpage where you may download it (such as Macromedia’s website for Flash, or Apple’s website for the QuickTime browser plug-in).  Note: always ensure the validity and safety of a plug-in; most will come with security certificates or other security validation.  If these certificates appear incorrect or suspicious, you may not want to install the plug-in in question (if you choose not to install the plug-in, you will continue to the web page without the content that required it, or you may not be able to view the website at all).

Next, we will walk through installing the Flash plug-in manually.  If you have a plug-in installed before you need it, you’ll have much less trouble when you encounter a website that uses them.  Note: the Windows Media plug-in, the QuickTime plug-in, and the RealPlayer plug-in are installed automatically with their respective players.  Windows Media Player 10 may be downloaded here, the QuickTime 7 player here, and RealPlayer here.

Installing the Flash Player plug-in on your computer.
  1. Open your web browser of choice (for this tutorial, any browser will be fine), and navigate to http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash, or you may click here, which will open your default web browser to the download page.  You should see a page like the one below. 

  1. You will be given the option to install the Yahoo! Toolbar if you like, but we would advise against it.  If you don’t wish to install the Yahoo toolbar, click the check box to the left of  to de-select it.  Otherwise, it will be installed when the Flash plug-in is installed. 

  2. Click the button labeled “Install Now”.  By clicking here, the Macromedia website will install the Flash plug-in in your browser.  Make sure to follow all instructions on the page to ensure that the plug-in is installed.  You can now view flash content through your browser.  If you switch to a different browser, you may need to repeat this procedure for that browser as well. 
Prepared by the ET Partners Program, IET Mediaworks and UC Davis