Google removes Plugin controls from Chrome

Google made a change in Chrome 57 that removes options from the browser to manage plugins such as Google Widevine, Adobe Flash, or the Chrome PDF Viewer.

If you load chrome://plugins in Chrome 56 or earlier, a list of installed plugins is displayed to you. The list includes information about each plugin, including a name and description, location on the local system, version, and options to disable it or set it to "always run".

You can use it to disable plugins that you don't require. While you can do the same for some plugins, Flash and PDF Viewer, using Chrome's Settings, the same is not possible for the DRM plugin Widevine, and any other plugin Google may add to Chrome in the future.

Starting with Chrome 57, that option is no longer available. This means essentially that Chrome users won't be able to disable -- some -- plugins anymore, or even list the plugins that are installed in the web browser.

Please note that this affects Google Chrome and Chromium.

Google removes Plugin controls from Chrome

chrome plugins

This goes hand in hand with a change in Chrome 56 that saw plugins getting re-enabled on restart automatically, and without you being able to do anything about that either.

Technically with the latest changes to the plugins handling code all plugins will be in the "enabled" state as seen on the chrome://plugins page.

To sum it up:

  1. chrome://plugins is deprecated in Chrome 57.
  2. Only Flash and the PDF Viewer can be controlled via the Chrome Settings.
  3. All other plugins cannot be controlled anymore by the user.
  4. Disable plugins like Flash or Widevine are re-enabled in Chrome 56 after restarts.

You have to dig deep on the Chromium bugs website to find information on those changes. This bug highlights that chrome://plugins is deprecated, and that plugin control access has been removed from Chrome with the exception of Adobe Flash and PDF Viewer.

One issue when it comes to disabling Flash is that Chrome handles Flash content differently depending on where it was disabled.

If you disable Flash on chrome://plugins, Flash is completely disabled. If you use the Settings instead, you get a square asking whether you want to enable Flash to play content instead.

Users may overcome this by enabling this flag: chrome://flags/#prefer-html-over-flash

This bug highlights that Google considers all plugins but Flash and the PDF Viewer, as integral parts of the Chrome browser, and that it does not want users to disable those.

All other plugins (NaCL and WideVine) are considered integral part of the browser and can not be disabled.

Temporary Solution

The only option that is left is to delete the plugin folder on the local system. The caveat is that it gets added again when Chrome updates.

The location is platform specific. On windows, it is located here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\[Chrome Version]\WidevineCdm\.

Close Chrome, delete the folder, and restart the browser. The plugin is no longer loaded by Chrome. you do need to repeat this whenever Chrome updates though.

Closing Words

Google is removing control over plugins from the web browser, and is rightfully criticized for making that decision as it is anything but user friendly. Let us hope that Vivaldi and Opera won't follow Chrome's example.

Now You: Have you disabled any plugins installed in Chrome?


This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News


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