Low Quality Flash, Improve Flash Performance In Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 4, 2011
Updated • Nov 22, 2012
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Flash applications can be very taxing performance wise. If you ever had to run Flash apps on underpowered hardware, e.g. a netbook or tablet PC, then you know that you may experience frame drops and other performance related issues. Most performance issues are caused by games which can be very taxing. I remember that I once tried to play a shoot em up game on my Acer notebook only to find out that I could not play the game at all because of a low frame rate.

There is not really a lot that users can do to improve the Flash performance on their computer. While some may be able to increase fps by closing background applications or overclocking their graphics adapter, others may not see a difference at all in this regard.

The Firefox add-on Low Quality Flash offers a different solution. The extension modifies the HTML source code to load Flash elements in low quality. This is an automated process that happens on every page load if Flash elements are loaded. This works on games but also on regular Flash applications and media including advertisement banners.

Reducing the quality of Flash should have a positive effect on the overall performance on the page. It can on the other hand reduce the visual quality of the contents. Depending on the Flash element this can be visible or not visible at all. The add-on works on most sites but not on all. You may encounter sites where you won't see a difference.

low quality flash

The add-on can also improve the performance on Flash heavy sites in general which includes faster navigating or scrolling for instance. The most recent versions of the Low Quality Flash add-on come with a preference to switch from low quality to medium quality Flash contents instead. This may be interesting for computer systems that cannot play high quality or ultra quality Flash contents but are sufficiently fast to play medium quality contents.

Firefox users can install Low Quality Flash directly from the official Mozilla Firefox add-on repository.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. trlkly said on June 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    For page slowdowns, you should also be using the FlashBlock addon.

  2. Zoo said on November 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Yes but can’t you already do that? (Right-click on a flash object -> Quality -> Low, Medium, or High).

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Yes you can do that, but not automatically.

      1. trlkly said on June 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm

        @Zoo: A single addon that rewrites a small bit of code only increases the memory usages a little bit. And you can make up for that by disabling plugin-container.exe

      2. Zoo said on November 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm

        Obviously I wouldn’t install this extension but, on top of that, adding extensions increases the browser’s memory consumption (this particular one doesn’t seem “light”). If you have a weak system it’s still preferable to change the settings manually for maximum overall performance.

        However, I still see some benefits for interested users.

  3. gadgets said on November 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    seems like a really great tips, thanks for sharing.

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