August 10, 2010

Flash video gets more efficient on Macs

I’m pleased to see that today’s update to Flash Player 10.1 (get it here) brings hardware-accelerated playback of H.264-encoded video to the Mac. Similar support has been available on Windows for some time, but it wasn’t until a recent OS update (10.6.3) that Apple enabled plug-in access to the necessary APIs. The Flash Player & Safari teams worked closely together to get things humming.

Long story short: If you’re running Snow Leopard on a supported Mac, you should get video playback with much lower CPU usage. If you’d like details see Flash Player engineer Tinic Uro’s post from April.

Posted by John Nack at 9:01 PM on August 10, 2010


  • AYRTON360 — 9:18 PM on August 10, 2010

    Good news !!!
    Flash CPU usage has been very high on MACs for a long time, and sometimes makes everything react slow during the time Flash was playing.
    I’m gonna try it again
    Thanks for the info

  • Guy — 10:55 PM on August 10, 2010

    Lower CPU but now my MacBook Pro is stuck using the 330M which lowers battery life by 60-90 minutes and runs hot.

    Please fix.

  • PPaul — 3:52 AM on August 11, 2010

    After years of the Flash team saying “oh we can’t make performance on Macs better it’s impossible” then finally blaming GPU acceleration even though it was a huge problem before they even added that on the windows side.

    [No one ever said that improving things was “impossible.” I don’t work on Flash, but my understanding is that Apple’s Core Graphics was indeed slower for animation work than Windows equivalents. Apple introduced Core Animation in 10.5, greatly improving matters, but the Flash Player team couldn’t switch to it overnight (because, oddly enough, they care about things like running on older Macs, too). They’ve now switched, and in addition they’ve enabled GPU-based video playback (which is a separate matter). –J.]

    Now in the past 6 months we’ve had performance updates and finally GPU acceleration… what a difference a phone makes eh? Being left out of the iPhone party was the kick up the arse the Flash team needed to get their act in gear and to stop treating Macs like a tier 2 platform.

    [Yes, you’re right: All good things must be attributed to Apple, while all bad ones must be attributed to Adobe. If/when Flash runs faster on Windows, that’s proof of Adobe’s incompetence and malice; if/when it runs faster on the Mac, that’s proof of Apple’s righteous majesty. –J.]

    Maybe in a few years they might even manage to ship a Flash IDE that isn’t a pile of clunky antiquated garbage.

    • Matthew Fabb — 4:52 AM on August 11, 2010

      PPaul, I guess you didn’t read John’s post properly, because this was only made available recently because of an API update from Apple in Mac OS 10.6.3. It’s what the Flash team and others from Adobe had been asking for quite some time. If it had been made available earlier would have likely been apart of the initial Flash Player 10.1 launch earlier this summer. Instead a beta was released earlier this year shortly after the API was made available and now we have a release. Also if you read Tinic’s blog there’s been other increases on the Mac with the Mac version of the Flash Player now faster than the Windows version when it comes to graphic rendering. Once again, this is because of a new API in the latest version of Safari for the Flash to access the Core Animation API.

  • Brian Spence — 5:44 AM on August 11, 2010

    Sorry PPaul, if you’ve read other posts John has made about Macs and Flash, you’d know it was Apple withholding access to the APIs that kept Adobe from being able to optimize Flash.

    I hope this works well on older Macs too. Whenever I’m on a Flash site, my fan kicks on and it gets really hot.

    I posted about this a few days ago, but now that jailbreaking a phone is legal, would Adobe go so far as to support it on a jailbroken iPhone? I’d jailbreak my iPhone in a second if it supported real Flash (not Frash in its current state). On that note, what’s the legality of Frash, I wonder? And for one more digression, I really hope Apple gets slapped down by the EU for not allowing Flash on the iPhone.

  • Erik Keller — 6:50 AM on August 11, 2010

    It would be nice if there was a link allowing me to download the player itself, read a *.dmg-file to update my plugin. The sentence ” Adobe may use the Adobe Download Manager to seamlessly install your software.” tells me, that HTML5/h.264 is a viable alternative to collecting software I don’t want on my OS X installation.

    Seriously, things like that brought me to a point where ALL software by Adobe, besides Flash, will run in a virtual machine on my Mac.

    • Matthew Fabb — 9:24 AM on August 11, 2010

      Adobe Download Manager is great for large downloads like any of the Creative Suit tools, where the download might take 30 minutes or longer and you might want to stop and start the download at points. However, it is complete overkill for something as small as the Flash Player and I really hope that in the future whoever decided to use it for Flash realizes this and goes back to a direct download.

  • Jon — 8:22 AM on August 11, 2010

    I sincerely hope this update will bring back some stability to Flash Player. Ever since my version went above 10.1, Safari was prone to crash on every other Flash video on the web…

  • Thomas — 9:03 AM on August 11, 2010

    The Flash guys will never listen and never learn :/

    What does Version 10.1 mean?

    I actually have 10,1,53,64 installed

    The new version is

    If you go to the Download Page it doe not tell which version you have installed (no version checker), if you proceed to download the version also is not includet in the filename, it just says “install_flash_player_osx_ub”.

    This is VERY Annoying, particularily if you keep copies of flash player versions Archived and everytime you want to update you always have to check first which version is currently installed, then head over to the information section to determine the detailed version number of the Flash player installer, then head over to the download section and rename the file before saving, etc., etc.

    could you please call the flas or website tech department an tell them to change that crap procedure.

    thanks in advance

    • Matthew Fabb — 9:29 AM on August 11, 2010

      Thomas, the Flash Player About page detects what version of the Flash Player you are currently running and then lists the most up to date version for different platforms:

      However, it’s too bad this kind of information isn’t available on Flash Player download page, perhaps detecting if you already have the latest version and letting you know about it.

      • Thomas — 1:11 AM on August 12, 2010

        Hi Matthew,

        sorry i wasn’t precise enough.
        Yes, that’s what i mean. You always have to go first to the “about Flash” page – or check your browser plugin listings, then head over download section and so on and so far.

        For me there is no just “10.1”.
        Same as it ever was for past versions of Flash it’s crucial to know which one was the latest working version if a new release contain serious bugs, so it’s always easier to roll back if you know exactly about build and revision numbers, etc.

        I is too complex to have just a major.minor version referrer, no matter as much as an developer does not want the average user to confuse with a larger string of version numbers.

        Maybe it sounds like nitpicking for someone, but for me and my colleagues it’s a crucial thing.

  • melgross — 10:53 PM on August 11, 2010

    Now that this is out, and works with a very few Macs, how is the schedule for getting it working on my Mac Pro with 4870, soon to be upgraded to the new 5870? And how about my wife and daughters machines, early 2008 iMacs with Nivdia graphics (I think 9400)?

    Is this going to have to be enabled card by card? If so, why? Is this the way it’s done for Windows machines?

    [I don’t know. You might have to ask Apple why they enabled it on only certain hardware. –J.]

    • melgross — 9:04 PM on August 13, 2010

      Well, everything I’ve read says that Adobe enabled on that hardware. What to believe?

      • Chris — 3:19 PM on August 16, 2010

        Apple is limited the choices of GPUs.

        Here, see for yourself;

        “QuickTime H.264 hardware acceleration
        requires a Mac with an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M, or GeForce GT 330M graphics processor.”

  • Michael — 5:02 AM on August 12, 2010

    I have no trouble whatsoever watching H.264 video with quicktime on my old 2004 Powerbook. But I can’t play a single 240p Flash embedded video without stuttering.

    The CPU usage while watching a 720p movie with Quicktime on my early 2008 Mac Pro is 6,7%, watching a 720p Vimeo movie in Safari with the flash plugin causes 70-80% CPU usage.


    • Simon — 1:40 AM on August 13, 2010

      Seriously Michael, just use Chrome.

      I’m not sure if Chrome accesses Apple’s Core APIs the same way that its WebKit counterpart Safari does, but since switching to it, I’ve had no problems with Flash.

  • Thomas — 7:52 PM on August 16, 2010

    5,5 days passed and you guys still have no solution.
    let’s sum it up: you guys don’t care a bit, not even a bit of birdshit!

  • Thomas — 6:47 PM on August 18, 2010

    few days later, nothing changed, same as it ever was.

    FY/BUg/SPOILER: by the way, the TAB key catapult you to the beginnig of any blog entry whilst writing in the input field. How come?

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