Acrobat/Reader: disable or remove Flash components

Following the high frequency of security updates related to Adobe Flash, there’s often a security update required for Adobe Reader or Acrobat.  Flash is embedded in both of these products.

You may want to remove the Flash components file (authplay.dll) from Reader or Acrobat. When this file is removed, you can avoid applying the Acrobat/Reader security updates when it is a security issue exclusively in Flash. However, Adobe doesn’t support removing the authplay.dll from the installed plug-ins for any version of Acrobat or Reader. These products have not been tested in this form. Removing the authplay.dll file can result in unexpected behavior.

If you do remove authplay.dll, then make sure that you can reproduce any issues that arise on a standard Acrobat installation before contacting Adobe support. (A standard installation is one in which the authplay.dll file is installed.)

Here is a rough description of the possible behavior based on version:

  • Reader and Acrobat 8 and earlier: Not relevant as Flash is not embedded in these versions.
  • Reader and Acrobat 9: Possible to remove or rename authplay.dll. However, doing so can result in an application crash when rich media content is opened in Reader or Acrobat. (For example, when you open PDF portfolios, or PDF files with embedded rich media content)
  • Reader and Acrobat 10: Not possible to remove or rename authplay.dll as the user interface itself contains Flash components. (Using protected mode avoids the security updates anyway)
  • Reader and Acrobat 10+: it is still under discussion whether Adobe will offer the ability to disable or remove the Flash components from Reader or Acrobat.

reference: (182321552)

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4 Responses to Acrobat/Reader: disable or remove Flash components

  1. R. P. says:

    Please consider some kind of flash-disable toggle for at least Acrobat Pro. A major problem with Acrobat X is that its heavy integration of Flash renders it difficult to use for capture to PDF operations in legal documentation work.

    Please enable an option that ignores/disables flash code in captured files. Web interactivity is not something many actual PDF capturers, at least in the law field, need. It should be optional. Otherwise documents are difficult to create and view, with constant intrusive pop up messages about obscure weblinks that undermine the sense of integrity/permanence of the file and render them too frustrating for clients to read.

    I’m at a former documentation specialist from the tech sector with a law degree. I’ve been using Acrobat Pro since version 3 for documentation creation and cataloguing work, and now I work in the legal field. I use Acrobat Pro (version X now) to gather website captures for evidence in lawsuits – generally a part of the e-discovery process. The ability (when it works) of Acrobat to convert webpages to PDF and capture websites at multiple levels is a unique value added feature that lends itself to my work.

    A key problem with Flash is that when I need to capture a webpage, using the Create from Webpage option, what I really just want is an image of the full page in PDF, without proactive hyperlinks – I don’t mind seeing the ad/first frame of the flash item, but I do NOT need or want it to execute in the PDF document.

    Hyper links can be there, but the problem with flash objects is that when you scroll through a capture page, Acrobat Reader and Pro constantly give “Acrobat cannot connect to [insert content server address here]” with an allow, block, remember, cancel menu – it requires manual intervention for just reading. This renders the PDF useless to clients or for admissability in court since it requires constant intervention when displaying on a computer screen, and this gives the impression the document is changeable, which negates its evidentiary value.

    This is on top of the fact that Acrobat X cannot accurately capture web pages – its html renderer reproduces flash banner ads and other ads multiple times on pdf pages, distorting and often blocking the actual content underneath. I can sometimes go into object edit mode and remove them from the top layer, but this constitutes selective manipulation of the file, which renders it susceptible to dismissal as viable evidence.

    If there is a way to set Acrobat Pro and Reader to ignore flash objects in capture/render processes, it would make the application far more usable. At the same time, the Create from Web engine could use some tweaking – it is quite limited and crashy. I often have to capture entire websites or at least 3 levels worth. Acrobats 7, 8, 9, and X just crash with memory errors (insufficient memory errors related to temp file/folder space), losing hours of captured data and billing time. This is a constant issue. Perhaps it can be redesigned to collate and save partial files at certain safe file sizes and then integrate all the links later. As well, if it could be directed to gather site information in certain priorities, it would be much easier – eg. when grabbing a Blogger page, if it could be told to capture the root page + comments links first, then other links.

    I’ve always been an Acrobat Pro evangelist for 13+ years now – the program revolutionized the way my department created and distributed product documentation in the tech days, and I see great potential for its use in e-discovery searching and presentation (part of the reason I was hired) but the program needs critical features and refinement to be of any actual value in my field. I realize the legal field is limited, but its growing and Adobe is well positioned through the acceptance of PDF files to be an industry standard app if it works more consistently and predictably. I’d be happy to demonstrate my issues (they are highly reproducable and very typical in my type of work) if it will help.

    Thanks – its a great product, it just could use a few tweaks to really expand its potential and value proposition.

    RP from Ottawa, Canada
    Sept 2011

    • Ugh says:

      YES– this is a problem for those in the legal world.

      ADOBE– please offer an option to DISABLE the conversion of embedded flash elements when converting a webpage to PDF.

  2. dmcmahon says:

    In the web capture preferences you have options to export the content as HTML (including multimedia) or as Text. Even if you select HTML, you can still disable Multimedia capture in the HTML settings, or reference it by URL in the PDF.

    You could also try printing to a PDF using something other than the “Standard” file settings. Print to the Adobe PDF Printer and you could try using “PDF/A-1b” which is an archiving format and should not embed Flash content, or some of the print formats may also work in your situation.

  3. Walker says:

    I second the option to toggle Flash integration when creating a .pdf. I can’t stand Flash and never have anything to do with it, but when I’m creating .pdfs from multiple HTML email messages, Acrobat doesn’t seem to have an option to prevent Flash infection.

    My customers have trouble using the documents they used to enjoy using.