Forums · Fixing issues with Flash content not playing on Messenger


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Sep 13 '20

Note: A tutorial to install flash player is now maintained on the wiki.

If you're looking to use winks or view other Flash content on Messenger, but are greeted with an error telling you to install Flash Player or they don't play properly (e.g., glitchy/no animation), then you've come to the right guide.

There are a couple solutions to this problem.

Since MSN Messenger utilises the ActiveX flavor of Flash Player specifically, a more favourable solution for most would be to make Messenger use an isolated version of that plugin that can render Flash content on Messenger properly, but isn't tied to the entire system removing the risk of having to deal with Flash content outside of that program.

While we are aware of a solution that simplifies this process for the end user, we figured when Messenger has to display Flash content in a browser context (for things like activities and games, which will especially affect the MSN Instant Games) that won't be solved with a change in COM references in the app itself. That's why with our solution, we would suggest just installing the ActiveX Flash Player normally, which in this case should be limited to versions 7.0 to 10.3 as those are all versions known to play Messenger's Flash content 100% correctly (especially winks).

Considering Adobe removed their archive of Flash Player versions last year and that recent releases have a kill-switch set on them so that they're rendered useless on 1/12/2021 and onward, you will have to do some searching to find those versions. We will however link to a download for version 10.3 for convenience, which is hosted here.

This version is one that has been proven to work with Messenger with no issue whatsoever, and is also the most compatible, supporting Windows XP at the minimum. I am aware that most find the idea of installing Flash Player globally repulsive these days, but this is the most effective method I can think of to get the most out of Messenger's use of the feature, and not many applications use ActiveX technologies these days anyway, and need you simply have to sandbox Flash in Messenger itself for its own features then I completely understand. I am also aware of the Flash Player update for Windows that will zap the system version of Flash out of your computer's sightline which will be deployed very soon. That thankfully doesn't affect further installations of ActiveX Flash Player and as long as you follow instructions correctly Flash Player should work as intended.

If you have an ActiveX version of Flash Player already installed that's newer than the one you plan to install (e.g., Flash Player 32 ActiveX is installed and you plan to install 10.3 ActiveX) then simply uninstalling the version already on your computer won't work as the installers are coded to block themselves from installing if they detect that a newer version was/is installed. To resolve this, first uninstall, and then go into the Windows Registry, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Macromedia\FlashPlayer\SafeVersions (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Macromedia\FlashPlayer\SafeVersions for 64-bit users) and delete the key. Then run the installer again and it should go through with installation. Restart Messenger if necessary and Flash content should now be able to work.
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