Mac: Load Flash only when you want to with Clicktoflash

Adobe’s Flash technology is pretty much THE standard when it comes to delivering video over the Internet. A number of high profile sites like YouTube, hulu and metacafe use flash to display content to their users and the flash plugin is quickly becoming a must have for every computer user.

Flash is not being used just for videos, it is also used around the Internet for creating casual games, advertisements and pretty much anything that you can think of.

In spite of all the advantages of the Flash platform, the problem with flash is that other than Windows, it really doesn’t run well on any other platform. Flash is also a notoriously heavy user of your system’s resources.

If you’re a Linux or OS X user like I am, you can forget about timely updates and can also expect your browser’s memory and CPU usage to go through the roof if you like visiting flash heavy websites. In my opinion, that is reason enough to get rid of Flash.

So, what do you do if you’ve had enough of the flash advertisements and videos making an appearance on every website that you visit ?

You give ClickToFlash a try !

ClickToFlash is an extension for Safari on OS X that blocks Flash from appearing on any site that you visit. With ClickToFlash loaded, this is how a site using flash will look like.

ClickToFlash loaded

So, what’s the great deal about ClickToFlash, you ask ? You could have gotten rid of flash by just removing the flash plugin, right ? And to block advertisements, there are already some excellent freeware out there.

Well, I agree, but with ClickToFlash you don’t have to remove the flash plugin and that is the flexibility that it provides. The flash plugin will not be loaded up with every page you view of YouTube, for example, but you can still see the flash elements on the web page, if you want to, by just clicking on the element. So, to start playing the YouTube video above you can just click anywhere inside the gray area and the video will start playing.

Infact, in the case of YouTube, ClickToFlash also gives you an option to view the higher quality the H.264 video stream using QuickTime instead of Flash. Just right click the inside the gray area and select the H.264 option.

Load H.264 stream using ClickToFlash

Isn’t that awesome ?

But, if you’re a heavy flash user, the constant clicking required to view the content on all your favorite sites might annoy you a bit. In that case, ClickToFlash provides an option to add certain websites to a Whitelist.

A Whitelist is a list of all websites which ClickToFlash excludes from blocking. Adding a site to the Whitelist is easy too, just right click the flash element on the particular site and select the Add to Whitelist option, as you can see in the image above.

ClickToFlash will then add the site’s URL to it’s Whitelist and the next time you visit that site, you’ll be able to enjoy all flash content as if ClickToFlash never happened to you ! I can already see myself making use of this feature for atleast a couple of sites.

So, do you guys find flash videos and ads annoying ? Have you ever though of ways to get rid of them ?

Note: A similar plugin for Firefox is Stop Autoplay