How to update Adobe Flash Player manually in Windows

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 22, 2012
Updated • Dec 3, 2012

You may know that Adobe has implemented an auto-updater to its Flash Player that is running as a service, Adobe Flash Player Update Service, and a scheduled task in Windows' Task Scheduler. This is the same basic method that Google uses to update its various programs on the system.

When you look at the scheduled task, you will notice that it has been set to run once per day if Flash Player has been configured during installation to install updates automatically when available. You can alternatively configure the update method to only check for updates and notify you when an update has been found, or to not run at all on the system.

adobe flash player auto updates

If you have configured Adobe Flash Player to not update automatically, or if you know of an update and want to apply it right away, you could head over to Adobe's website to download the latest version and update the application this way.

Or, you can use the internal updater to update Flash right away. To do that you first need to make sure that the web browser that you are updating the plugin for is closed. Keep also in mind that you can't update Google Chrome or Internet Explorer 10 if the native Flash application is used instead of an external plugin.

The commands that you then need to run are the following (first Internet Explorer, then for other web browsers).

  • C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\FlashUtil<version number>ActiveX.exe -update plugin
  • C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\FlashUtil<version number>Plugin.exe -update plugin

You find the actual file name in the C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\ directory so make sure you go there firs to use the correct file name.


I also recommend that you only run the tool when you know that an update is available as you will trigger a re-installation of the current version of Adobe's Flash Player on the system otherwise.

Karl Horky who came up with the method to force Flash Player to update has made available a batch file as well that you can use to update both versions of Flash effortlessly. Check out his blog for details on how to create and use it.

Closing Words

Forcing an update of Adobe Flash from the local computer has several advantages over downloading the installer from the Adobe website. You first do not need to download two installers if you want to update both the Active-X version and the general browser version of Flash.  This can also be helpful if for whatever reason the Adobe website is not available at the time of writing, or if the update has not posted on the site yet.


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  1. o770 said on December 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    The switch for the ActiveX is actually ‘-update activex’.

  2. Norm said on November 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Dude, all u had to do is tell us the freaken command. -update plugin..

  3. Anonymous said on September 30, 2012 at 4:19 am

    what do actually mean by . . . . . .C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\FlashUtilActiveX.exe -update plugin
    C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash\FlashUtilPlugin.exe -update plugin . . . . . . . . . i cant find it in my comp.. . . . plz help

  4. Jerry Morgan said on August 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    The batch file is great. Out of the 4 computers I have 3 hang up and will not wake-up from sleep and at restart I find the flash player or adobe reader up date ready to install. The question I have is why does one of my computers open the adobe web site and which lists the version and the other three just run the update without going to the adobe web site?

  5. Richard Steven Hack said on June 24, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Or turn off Adobe updating as shown in the article and run PatchMyPC every week to catch not only Flash updates, but Java, Firefox and a host of other common critical software.

  6. David said on June 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Does using these commands also update the files in the SysWOW64 folder or do they have to be done separately?

  7. Transcontinental said on June 22, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Here platform is XP SP3, so problems mentioned with Adobe Flash didn’t concern this system. Nevertheless, strange enough here with Firefox/Flash Player 11.3.300.262 but as well with IE/Flash Player 11.3.300.257 , we have sound distortion. Reversing back to Flash Player for IE and non-IE gets everything back to normal.
    Sound distortion was announced by Adobe as related to latest Flash Player 11.3.300.262 (Firefox only therefor).
    The story is odd.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      This appears to be a known bug.

    2. Rick said on June 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      from the cmd prompt run
      sc delete

      no more adobe updates

      1. Rick said on June 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm

        Darn tablet lol

        sc delete

  8. boris said on June 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I downgraded to Flash11.2 . I will update when reviews turn positive.

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