While more and more sites and services switch to versions that don't require plugins, there are still many out there on the Internet that only run if you have the right plugin installed.
One reason why browser developers such as Mozilla or Google want to eliminate the need for plugins is security. Since plugins are loaded from external locations by the browser, the browser itself has little control over it.
While it is possible to automatically block plugins or set them to click to play instead, something that Mozilla implemented recently in version 30 of the browser, it is not possible to update plugins from within the browser.
There are other reasons why plugins are not desirable: stability comes to mind but also the fact that they are usually proprietary and not open technologies.
Mozilla has created the Plugin Check website to check for plugin updates during Firefox updates. It is possible to visit the service directly as well to perform a manual check for updates instead.
The Firefox add-on Auto Plugin Checker automates the process in the browser. It adds an icon to Firefox's main toolbar that indicates whether plugin updates are available.
You can use it to run manual checks with a left-click on the icon and the selection of check for plugin updates from the context menu.
A red icon indicates that updates are available. You can select the Mozilla's update page link in the context menu to run the check (again) on Mozilla's official page.
The reason for doing so is that it will provide you with options to update plugins that are out of date, something that the add-on itself does not.
What makes the add-on special is that it will check for updates automatically. The default interval is set to 24 hours which means that it will run the update check every day.
It is possible to increase or decrease the interval in the options. Here you find other interesting options that you may like:
- Open update tab on plug-in update - This will open Mozilla's Plugin Check website automatically if updates are available. Can be useful to optimize the process but may also be the only indicator that updates have been found if you have removed the add-on icon from the Firefox interface.
- Check on Firefox start - This option runs a plugin updae check on every start of the browser.
- Check also inactive plugins - Mozilla's Plugin Check service does not check inactive plugins. The extension resolves this by setting the plugins to click to play during the check and back to inactive afterwards. This may slow down the check according to the developer.
Auto Plugin Checker is a useful add-on for Firefox. Mozilla should consider adding it to Firefox to improve the process for all users of the web browser.