Flash bug: Firefox losing focus when Flash contents are loaded

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 20, 2012
Updated • Nov 22, 2012

If you are running Adobe Flash 11.3.300.x or higher and use Firefox as your web browser, you may experience an annoying behavior as of late that is removing focus from the web browser when you relaunch Flash contents. This has been tested under 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and may affect other versions of the operating system as well. To reproduce the steps, you would visit a website that is displaying Flash contents. When you do, you will notice that three new processes are displayed in the Windows Task Manager (Ctrl-Shift-Esc): plugin-container.exe from the Firefox browser which is used to separate plugins from the core browser, and two FlashPlayerPlugin_11_3_300_xxx.exe processes.

When you now close the page with Flash contents and wait 180 seconds, you will notice that the three plugins get killed automatically in the browser. Visiting any page afterwards that is making use of Flash will remove the focus from the Firefox web browser so that you need to click on the browser window to regain focus. This can happen multiple times throughout the day if at least 180 seconds pass between the accessing of Flash contents.

flash firefox focus

If you have been typing while a page was loading in the background, you may have lost a couple of words, or sometimes even more, depending on how often you look at the monitor when you type.

Further analysis reveals that focus is given to an invisible, top level Windows edit control owned by the sandboxed Flash process.

According to notes on Adobe's official Bugbase, the issue is fixed in Flash Player 11.4 which is currently available as a beta version. If you install the beta version on your system you will however notice that the fix is less than ideal, as Firefox is still losing focus when this is happening, only to regain it automatically after a second or so.

A viable workaround at the time of writing is to keep a page with Flash contents open all the time so that the three processes do not get killed automatically after 180 seconds of inactivity.  You could alternatively disable protected mode but that is not recommended as it is removing Flash's sandbox protection from the system.

The bug status is set to fixed and closed, and it is not clear if Adobe will reopen it to address the issue to the satisfaction of all users.

Have you been noticing issues with Flash lately in your browser of choice?


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  1. Reginald Armitage said on October 26, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Mozilla is the parent. Flash is the unruly child. There needs to be an advanced setting within Mozilla which reads, “No, thou shalt not send a newly opened Firefox window to behind the Firefox window from whence the new page came.”

  2. Bobby said on August 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    11.4 does NOT fix the focus problem. They partially addressed it, but Firefox still loses focus for a split-second. It shouldn’t happen at all.

    1. andy said on September 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      I am running firefox on mandriva linux and flash content particularly adverts since the update appear on everypage of the browser !!!! it is making it completely unusable. mozilla and adobe need to fix this i am reverting to chrome until then!!!

  3. ilev said on August 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Adobe Flash Player 11.4.402.265

    I download only from here : http://www.nsanedown.com/?request=57232098

    1. Domdom said on August 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      It seems to be official! lets try this version:

      1. Frank J said on August 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm

        Right off the bat I am noticing improvement in Firefox with this latest version and my usual 24-26 tabs open.

  4. Genious said on August 21, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Not the only problem. Flash is now also it’s own application running it’s own audio levels that are not controlled by say keyboard audio input / mice with audio controls. You have to click outside the browser window to increase or decrease audio levels.

    In the last 2 months flash has been nothing but a pain in the ass with the updates. First crashing all the time. Then came updates that fixed that problem only to give videos dual audio tracks. One playing by itself that couldn’t be stopped (accept by killing the browser) and one that worked / paused with the videos. Then came the audio control problems (as mentioned in the first part above). and now this. I’m about to say fuck flash 11 and install it and revert to 10.x as my wife’s computer has experienced none of these problems.

    1. Domdom said on August 21, 2012 at 11:31 am

      Question : what would be the best version to downgrade to? 10.3.x or 10.2?

  5. Julia said on August 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Yes, same problems here. I almost get nothing done anymore because everyday one or the other new version/update of one or the other software is crashing/interfering…

  6. Uhtred said on August 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I’ve had a number of recent “plugin has crashed” messages on various sites.

    Also, the bbc iplayer site is a daily visit for me, as I’m a big radio fan, typically firefox loads page then goes into “not responding” cursor blue circle mode for around ten -twentysecs or so, any left click during that time pulls up a semi-transparent white overlay on window (can still see page content)…. eventually it clears but is annoying. It would be good to know if this behaviour is also part of the plugin prob or if I need to address anything else.

    win7, FF 14.0.1

  7. Jim said on August 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Please, web masters, quit using Flash and switch to HTML5! PLEASE!!! Flash has failed on mobile and just needs to go away everywhere. (Sadly, my pessimistic side says HTML5 will just bring on a whole new set of problems.)

  8. Domdom said on August 20, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Same here, this just confirms there was something wrong with Flash, but isnt there always something wrong with Flash …

  9. Yoav said on August 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Flash in Firefox is always having problems. I wonder if it’s the same with other browsers?

  10. RSWRC said on August 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I had problem with audio not working in flash 11.3. Generally a very popular problem: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1026022?tstart=0

  11. MikeL said on August 20, 2012 at 10:36 am

    YESSSS! I have experienced this, have been for a while, but never realized it was this doing it, I was sure it was my hand touching my laptops touchpad as I’m typing and registering a click, de-selecting the window for some reason, even tho I knowww my touchpad is disabled when I’m using my mouse that I also use for that reason so my palm doesn’t do something on the touchpad, its disabled dammit, but it must be that, cause what the hell. Yess I have been experiencing this and its been driving me freakin nuts sometimes.

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