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Updated: Troubleshooting multimedia in web browsers

Web browsers get much of their functionality from the plug-ins they use, such as QuickTime, Flash, and Windows Media; however, there are numerous other plug-ins for displaying a variety of similar content. Sometimes viewing media with a specific plug-i

Written by Topher Kessler

Web browsers get much of their functionality from the plug-ins they use, such as QuickTime, Flash, and Windows Media; however, there are numerous other plug-ins for displaying a variety of similar content. Sometimes viewing media with a specific plug-in will not work properly, and either display a warning of sorts, or it will seem to load fine but not play or give any output.

Update: A MacFixIt reader and I had been working on an issue concerning Safari crashing when he would attempt to access a site heavy with multimedia (in this case, Flash). He had taken the steps to reinstall Flash as outlined in this MacFixIt article, but to no avail. This morning he found an interesting solution. MacFixIt reader "Rodney L." reports:
"I finally found the problem. The "open with Rosetta" option was checked in the Info panel. I don't remember ever turning it on, but turning it off solved the problem. I appreciate your taking the time to look into this and responding. Macfixit is a great resource, thanks for all you do."
To check and see if Quicktime (or any other program) is running using Rosetta, navigate to the program, highlight it, and press (Command 'i' for Get Info). In the General menu, check/uncheck "Open using Rosetta".

Updated on August 17th by Joe Aimonetti

Original Article:

Luckily, these plug-ins can overlap in function, which can help in troubleshooting a specific plug-in's problems. For instance, YouTube depends on the Flash plug-in to play movies and sound, which may need to be reinstalled. In order to test if some faulty setting in the browser is preventing audio output for Flash, try opening a video or audio file on your computer with the browser (right-click and choose "open with," which should open with the QuickTime plug-in) and play it. If you can hear audio, then your browser is not the problem, and a reinstallation of the plug-in should be the next step. For QuickTime, any file that loads in the browser should function the same as if it was loaded in the standalone player, so you can use the player as an additional check if the plug-in does not work properly.

Reinstalling web plug-ins

Many times just running the installer for a plug-in will not reinstall it, as the installer will detect the most recent version of the plug-in and will skip replacing the files. As such, to be sure the plug-in is completely reinstalled, you should first remove it from one of the following locations, and then run the installer from the respective developer:

/Macintosh HD/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/
/username/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/

You may also need to remove the receipt file for the installed plug-in, from the following location:

/Macintosh HD/Library/Receipts/

Doing this will also ensure you do not have multiple copies or versions of a plug-in installed, which can lead to unknown problems with media playback. Additionally, be sure to delete any preferences associated with the plug-in, which would be in the following locations:

/Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/

Other options

Removing unneeded plug-ins may prevent them from conflicting with each other. If you are having problems with a specific plug-in, go to the Internet plug-ins folders (listed above) and move all but the affected plug-in to the desktop or another location. Then relaunch the browser and try viewing the media again. Additionally, check the plug-in-specific settings,which can sometimes be accessed through the interface by right-clicking it (ie: Flash) or selecting a small settings or menu button on the plug-in controls (ie: QuickTime).

You can also try checking the system's audio settings in the Audio/MIDI Setup utility. Open the program and select the output device in the "Properties For" menu and ensure the format is something standard, such as 44100Hz, 2-channel, and 16-bit. Additionally, since USB and audio settings are stored in the computer's PRAM, try resetting that by holding down the Options-Command-P-R keys all at once when restarting the system.

For people using USB audio, sometimes low power or conflicts with other devices can affect performance, so try changing the USB port and/or removing other USB devices so the USB audio device is dedicated to one port and is not going through any hubs or daisy-chain setups. Resetting the USB device and ensuring it is given external power can also help. To see if this is a problem with the specific output device being used, try another one. Your Mac should have a built-in speaker, and unplugging all audio devices will default sound to this device.

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Topher has been an avid Mac user for the past 10-15 years, and has been a contributing author to MacFixIt for just over a year now. One of his diehard passions has been troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware both for family and friends, as well as in the workplace. He and the newly formed MacFixIt team are hoping to bring enhanced and more personable content to our readers, and keep the MacFixIt community going here at CNET. If you have questions or comments for Topher or the other MacFixIt editors, feel free to contact us at

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