Google removes Plugin controls from Chrome

Google made a change in Chrome 57 that removes options from the browser to manage plugins such as Google Widevine, Adobe Flash, or the Chrome PDF Viewer.

If you load chrome://plugins in Chrome 56 or earlier, a list of installed plugins is displayed to you. The list includes information about each plugin, including a name and description, location on the local system, version, and options to disable it or set it to "always run".

You can use it to disable plugins that you don't require. While you can do the same for some plugins, Flash and PDF Viewer, using Chrome's Settings, the same is not possible for the DRM plugin Widevine, and any other plugin Google may add to Chrome in the future.

Starting with Chrome 57, that option is no longer available. This means essentially that Chrome users won't be able to disable -- some -- plugins anymore, or even list the plugins that are installed in the web browser.

Please note that this affects Google Chrome and Chromium.

Google removes Plugin controls from Chrome

chrome plugins

This goes hand in hand with a change in Chrome 56 that saw plugins getting re-enabled on restart automatically, and without you being able to do anything about that either.

Technically with the latest changes to the plugins handling code all plugins will be in the "enabled" state as seen on the chrome://plugins page.

To sum it up:

  1. chrome://plugins is deprecated in Chrome 57.
  2. Only Flash and the PDF Viewer can be controlled via the Chrome Settings.
  3. All other plugins cannot be controlled anymore by the user.
  4. Disable plugins like Flash or Widevine are re-enabled in Chrome 56 after restarts.

You have to dig deep on the Chromium bugs website to find information on those changes. This bug highlights that chrome://plugins is deprecated, and that plugin control access has been removed from Chrome with the exception of Adobe Flash and PDF Viewer.

One issue when it comes to disabling Flash is that Chrome handles Flash content differently depending on where it was disabled.

If you disable Flash on chrome://plugins, Flash is completely disabled. If you use the Settings instead, you get a square asking whether you want to enable Flash to play content instead.

Users may overcome this by enabling this flag: chrome://flags/#prefer-html-over-flash

This bug highlights that Google considers all plugins but Flash and the PDF Viewer, as integral parts of the Chrome browser, and that it does not want users to disable those.

All other plugins (NaCL and WideVine) are considered integral part of the browser and can not be disabled.

Temporary Solution

The only option that is left is to delete the plugin folder on the local system. The caveat is that it gets added again when Chrome updates.

The location is platform specific. On windows, it is located here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\[Chrome Version]\WidevineCdm\.

Close Chrome, delete the folder, and restart the browser. The plugin is no longer loaded by Chrome. you do need to repeat this whenever Chrome updates though.

Closing Words

Google is removing control over plugins from the web browser, and is rightfully criticized for making that decision as it is anything but user friendly. Let us hope that Vivaldi and Opera won't follow Chrome's example.

Now You: Have you disabled any plugins installed in Chrome?

Article Name
Google removes Plugin controls from Chrome
Google made a change in Chrome 57 that removes options from the browser to manage plugins such as Google Widevine, Adobe Flash, or the Chrome PDF Viewer.
Ghacks Technology News
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Responses to Google removes Plugin controls from Chrome

  1. Rott Weiller January 29, 2017 at 10:53 pm #

    the other will follow as well because they are useless "cows"

    in my case.. i only disable the PDF plugin, i prefer opening pdfs in sumatra :)

    • Grant February 20, 2017 at 10:14 pm #

      Is it possible to use Chrome and have PDF files auto open in Sumatra?

  2. Kubrick January 29, 2017 at 11:01 pm #

    Haivng no control over plugins has essentially re-affirmed my dislike for chrome.I will stick with pale moon in the short term.Not a very user friendly initiative from google what so ever.

    • TinFoilRich January 30, 2017 at 9:18 am #

      plugins != extensions. Chrome only has 5-6 'known' plugins. What you are likely thinking of is 'extensions'. Things like AdBlock, etc.

  3. ShintoPlasm January 29, 2017 at 11:21 pm #

    I wonder if this is a Chromium-wide move (therefore impacting Opera, Brave etc.) or just a Google niggle...

    EDIT: never mind, it is. Also confirmed on the Opera blog. Bugger.

  4. Mikhoul January 29, 2017 at 11:21 pm #

    @Martin I was looking to find more information and sadly found a website that copied and pasted your article FULLY on their website, the only change is the author name.

    There is only a tiny link (almost invisible) to the original article here.

    Even the remarks about Ghacks have been left in the copy.


    Here's a version I saved on Wayback Machine if you need it legally:


    Regards !

  5. Earl January 29, 2017 at 11:30 pm #

    The real point is that support for all EXTERNAL (non-Google "approved") plugins is being removed entirely--as was planned. You don't need controls for something that won't exist.

    • Ron January 30, 2017 at 12:23 am #

      So basically Google is making the decision for all its sheeple.

      • zeomal January 30, 2017 at 5:40 am #

        Firefox too is removing support for traditional plugins, with the exception of Flash. They are a security wormhole. Let's not be too paranoid.

    • frank-e February 15, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

      Widevine DRM exists, and I exercised my control to disable it, because the alternative "delete" wasn't attractive. Now I was looking for "chrome widevine disable enterprise" and found only this blog entry: Thanks, but "impossible" was not what I hoped for.:-(

  6. Tony January 30, 2017 at 1:03 am #

    "Google is removing control over plugins from the web browser, and is rightfully criticized for making that decision as it is anything but user friendly."

    Google removing control from users and giving all that control to Google: sounds exactly like what we all expect from Google.

  7. Mikhoul January 30, 2017 at 1:23 am #

    Some people here don't even read the bug the report directly from Google for the removing.

    The removing in ONLY for plugin-that are now developed and maintained by Google, they are now considered as a part of Chrome.

    You CAN enable and disable all other add-ons via chrome://extensions as usual.

    You can even choose another PDF reader than Chrome.

    N.B.: My main browser is Firefox but I use more and more Chrome those days since I prepare myself for November... :(

    • Turtle January 30, 2017 at 1:30 am #

      Can you disable DRM now in Chrome, since Widevine can't be disabled ?

      • TinFoilRich January 30, 2017 at 9:22 am #

        Widevine is used by companies like Netflix and Amazon. Oh SURE you can disable it, but good luck streaming video on the internet since it's basically a standard now.

      • Martin Brinkmann January 30, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

        Which in turn means that if you don't use Chrome to stream from these services that require Widevine, you have no need for it. Correct?

      • Turtle January 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

        I have disabled DRM and not even installed on Firefox. Never needed to enable it except ONCE. I don't need no Netflix, yet I can watch any show I want in HD through streaming.

        So what's your point exactly ? I suffer no loss in functionality and I don't contribute to turning the web into a closed platform.

        If you play video games, you should try GoG, no DRM either, no loss of functionality either.

    • Pants January 30, 2017 at 5:09 am #

      Who says I want to subject myself to Chrome's pepper flash - I want that shit gone, permanently.
      Who says I want to use chrome's PDF viewer, maybe I want to use an external viewer like Sumatra (like Rott above)
      Who says I want to be forced to use DRM / CDM bullshit

      All this does is allow more embedded google tracking and removes user choice.

      N.B.: My main browser is Firefox but I use Chrome maybe once a day for "problem" sites, and even then I screw it down tighter than a nun's ass, and even then, I hate it for being so invasive and a PoS. :)

  8. Nebulus January 30, 2017 at 1:58 am #

    This looks more and more like a race-to-the-bottom between Google and Mozilla, the end goal being to remove all control from the user...

    • Mike January 30, 2017 at 5:23 am #

      Not to defend Google or Mozilla, but it appears that is what a lot of "average" users want now. If the average user wanted more control over their web browsing experience, Firefox and Vivaldi would be the leading browsers in terms of market share. As it stands, it appears more people are content with having limited customization and control options. Which is sad I suppose, but has been the trend for some years now.

      • Nebulus January 30, 2017 at 9:59 am #

        @Mike: you might be right, but somehow I don't think that the users are pushing for this oversimplification. IMO, users are just passively accepting what the corporations like Google or Mozilla are feeding them, not actively asking for something like that.

      • Gilgamesh January 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm #

        It's almost like you really think that Chrome has 60% market share because it is that much of a better product to normal users.

        Harmless ideology is cute.

  9. Albert January 30, 2017 at 2:29 am #

    The only hope is that Trump goes after the technocracy with antitrust...

    • 1984 January 30, 2017 at 2:34 am #

      Trump won't touch the CIA/NSA.

    • Mike January 30, 2017 at 5:18 am #

      Yeah, that'll happen considering who he put in charge of the FCC and who he put in his cabinet. Trump ain't gonna do crap about Google or any other large company, especially when it relates to antitrust issues (if they even exist here which is a HUGE if).

      • Dame January 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

        Google is facing antitrust charges in the EU so yes, they do exist here.

      • Mike January 30, 2017 at 8:00 pm #


        Sure they are, but we all know that the EU has been significantly more aggressive when it comes to trying to crack down on antitrust issues and the sort. The bar for the U.S. Government to be involved in such a practice is typically significantly higher (due to political reasons) and that bar is probably completely out of reach under this pro-big business administration.

    • Nebulus January 30, 2017 at 9:57 am #

      Trump is a big supporter of big companies, so I doubt that his administration would attack them in any way.

      • D. January 31, 2017 at 5:03 pm #



    • Dam January 30, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

      Didn't Trump basically just hand over America's employees and consumers to US biggest corporations ? Under the pretence "You get back now.", what I see from a big business point of view is juicy arguments to run back home with glee. Financially and in all aspects, they gain a fucking lot.

  10. Maou January 30, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    2017 is a shitty year for browsers, less options, less extensions support...

  11. chesscanoe January 30, 2017 at 2:07 pm # , including its 5 comments at this time, may clarify the Chrome 57 situation.

  12. Rob January 30, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    I see no benefit to this. There have already been several alerts about vulnerabilities in some of these addons where you're told as a user or administrator to disable the addon until it's fixed.

  13. Derek January 31, 2017 at 12:22 am #

    1. Write Python script to check for presence of plugin folder(s) & delete if found.
    2. Run script as scheduled task, with timing dependent on Chrome usage.

  14. Jack Alexander January 31, 2017 at 6:18 am #

    I don't use Chrome and wouldn't if it was my only choice. It sounds like version 56 is the one to stop with. Firefox is pulling similar stunts like this with add ons and 'plugins'. I plan on stopping in the next version or two. I think they plan to do the stupid things in version 56 or 57. I forget. I'm old. But I've read about it in the past few days. I think the browser companies have all of a sudden pulled the 'head up the @ss' syndrome. I don't think they are going to get anywhere soon.

  15. Anonymous January 31, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    Relax, Extension management is still there. Plugins is not something that you usually want to tweak, Extensions are, I have 57 and nothing change, I'm still able to manage, delete, disable... etc..

    • Daryl January 31, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

      Forced DRM has security and political ramifications, among which is this unexpected one:

      Google's now-mandatory Widevine had a critical flaw for six years and was not found or fixed because of laws protecting DRM code. According to security researchers, this is a common pattern. And now you can't disable DRM in Chrome.

  16. negroj January 31, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    [quote]Temporary Solution

    The only option that is left is to delete the plugin folder on the local system. The caveat is that it gets added again when Chrome updates.
    No No No No,
    Damn once again this is NOT the only option and it is a bad one, as you point out yourself.
    The other option and immho (as it comes from me) is not to delete those files and folders as they will come back.
    Leave them but set deny execute and read to everyone. Best security settings is everyone deny everything except change security and leave read unchecked. for all other users deny change security and read separately. only for your user check allow change security and read.
    That way the files are there, but even the OS can't change them read them nor update them.
    You are still in control if you want to allow access.

    This is not something specially for these plugins.
    I use it to disable the company push of itunes and SAPgui and other crap, both things I don't need and for iTunes refuse to have.
    in this case to limit disk usage, i do this on the folder level, after deleting the content.

    • BARBIE PERRY March 18, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

      How do I do this bc my MICROPHONE WILL NOT WORK for for VOICE TYPING after loading Chrome 57 on my PC. & THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT SAID THAT FLASHPLAYER ADMINISTRATOR PRIVILEGE HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT. SO, HOW DO I DO WHATEVER U DID TO REGAIN ACCESS TO MY MICROPHONE TO WORK. EVEN WHEN I PRESS ALLOW IT STILL DOES NOT WORK BUT A little red & black icon comes up on the right side of the search line that says the microphone cannot be used & it shows up on the right side where u chose "allow" after U choose allow on this site for the microphone access.


  17. dave February 1, 2017 at 3:02 am #

    I am using Chrome Version 56.0.2924.76 in Ubuntu. It seems to me that the latest version of chrome is ENABLING flash by default ..

    Previously, I had always disabled flash via chrome://plugins/. This change was persistent.
    And if I went to this web page:
    It would render the graph in HTML5 automatically since flash was disabled.

    Now in Chrome 56, when I go to chrome://plugins/ I see that flash is enabled by default. And since Flash is enabled, it will no longer render the google finance graph automatically in HTML5. Instead it offers to render in Adobe Flash if I do a right click. I can still manually disable flash which then will render the google finance graph automatically in HTML5, but this change is not persistent and once I restart chrome, flash is again enabled.

    So it seems to me that in my version of Chrome, Flash has not been disabled by default.

    • chesscanoe February 1, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

      The URL you reference says "Adobe Flash Player is required for interactive charts." when Flash is disabled. So even a temporary disable may not be what you desire if you want the full function designed for the site.

    • chesscanoe February 3, 2017 at 4:32 am #

      Under Windows 10 1607 build 14393 , your referenced URL does not render the finance graph in HTML5 even if you use chrome://settings/content to control how Flash will run. However, this setting is persistent. Testing with Chrome Version 57.0.2987.21 beta (64-bit) .

  18. chesscanoe February 1, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    I don't see your problem as far as I can tell running Running Windows 10 1607 build 14393 and Chrome Version 56.0.2924.76 beta (64-bit) . What do you see if you run ? Are the Flash pictures blocked? They are for me.

  19. coakl February 4, 2017 at 6:44 am #

    Version 56.0.2924.87
    chrome://plugins is still visible, but there's no longer any option to disable any of the plugins.
    The Flash setting in Content Settings lets you block sites from running Flash (block Flash content), but the plug-in *itself* is still active. Personally, I don't want ***any*** Flash in the browser. I don't have it installed at all in I.E. or Firefox.

    Thank god for uMatrix ! By default, it allows 1st party plug-ins (you can change that and then save that change as a new default by going to My Rules after clicking on the tiny gears icon). And it blocks all 3rd party plug-ins until you enable them.

  20. Cryptosavvy February 5, 2017 at 6:17 am #

    Even I Blocked Flash in setting from running it.

    i check test. it says its still enabled.

  21. Meghan February 23, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    I've been trying to de-install plug-ins on google chrome because it makes Google Chrome Helper completely take over my CPU on my mac work computer.

    All my searches bring me to out-dated articles with fixes that no longer work. This is the most accurate info I've been able to find.

    Does anyone have any ideas of a new work around so that I can kill Google Chrome Helper? It's becoming super frustrating.

    • Martin Brinkmann February 24, 2017 at 6:21 am #

      Google Chrome Helper seems to be a Mac-only thing. Don't own a Mac so cannot investigate unfortunately.

  22. J. J. March 4, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

    As far as I'm concerned, this is just another way for Google to control it's users. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

  23. codywohlers March 16, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

    quit changing shit google. that goes for everyone making software

  24. Andre March 22, 2017 at 3:14 am #

    You can still completely disable Flash player (so Chrome can't "see" it) by adding "--disable-bundled-ppapi-flash" after the shortcut/launcher entry, this works on Windows, Mac and Linux. It means Flash doesn't even appear in chrome://components.

    I've done that and also have an unmodified shortcut I renamed "Google Chrome, Flash Enabled" which I only need to use once a week or so.

    • DudeBro April 17, 2017 at 1:27 am #

      If someone gets this to work, please post? In my testing, only one of these switches works at a time. I'm having difficulty getting both of these to work at the same time from the same shortcut: --incognito --disable-bundled-ppapi-flash

  25. Caitlin March 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm #

    I used to love Chrome but in the past few weeks it has froze, stuttered, was slow, not behaved as it should regarding some extensions like Emoji and also auto started my videos at YouTube when editing thereby giving me an unwanted view and now they've removed Plugins view/control.

    That's enough for me. I will stick with FF and when I need another browser choose something else.

  26. Jim Mooney May 5, 2017 at 2:15 am #

    This stinks. A plugin was giving me big trouble and chrome wouldn't let me do anything, so I disabled Chrome (uninstall) and went back to Firefox.

  27. Flabbergaster May 17, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

    This is getting so bothersome as of late, that I have started testing standalone versions of chrome preceding version 57. On some webpages I can't view ANY video thanx to this piece of shit, not even html5 for some reason. I am trying to revert to a standalone chrome version that actually works with flash the normal way like it used to, while trying to block autoupdating of the browser indefinitely.

    Why don't they give us a choice ? Aren't there extensions available for chrome to switch from html5 to Flash (and vice versa) per-site ?

  28. Yak May 21, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

    Can't stand the font you use. It's too thin and too light. Very hard to read against a white background.

    • Tom Hawack May 22, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

      That's strange. What I view here is this :, which is fine.
      Is this what you receive on your screen?
      I'm interfering because I'm very touchy when it comes to screen display, colors and fonts included.

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