Tor was designed so Flash could not run with privacy in mind, but it is possible to hack installation so you can use Flash in your browser
Q I was interested in the workshop concerning the Tor web browser. I downloaded the program and it worked without any problems until I started using video (specifically on BBC iPlayer) – I could not play the TV shows.
Indeed, I could not view video on any site unless I installed the Flash plug-in, which seems impossible to get without compromising the privacy of the Tor program. There may be a way round this but I can’t find it and the frustration of not being able to view videos when needed proved too much. Is there anything I can do?
A It is important to understand that the folks behind Tor designed it so that Flash content cannot be run. Essentially, this is because plug-ins operate independently from Firefox (on which Tor relies) and, as such, are able to perform activities outside of Tor’s control – and these could risk compromising anonymity.
You can read the full reasoning at Torbutton FAQ but the bottom line is that enabling Flash within Tor would put your privacy at risk when viewing sites containing Flash content (though the risk when using sites such as YouTube is small).
However, with that warning clear it is possible to hack a Tor installation so it will run Flash – but it is quite an effort and you will need Flash installed for use with your existing browser.
To start, launch Tor and when Firefox appears, click the Tor icon at the top left (it looks like a green onion) and choose Preferences. Now select the Security Settings tab followed by the Dynamic Content sub-tab and click to remove the tick from the ‘Disable plugins during Tor usage (crucial)’ box. Click OK to close the Preferences dialogue box and then exit Tor.
Next, you will need to copy over two files from your PC’s existing Flash installation folder into the Plugins folder for the Tor browser. The specific location of these folders will depend on your PC setup and how they were installed. The Flash installation folder is typically found at C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash. So launch Windows Explorer (hold down the Windows key and tap E) and navigate to this folder.
Now open a second Windows Explorer window and use it to navigate to the Tor browser’s Plugins folder. Again, the precise location of this will vary depending on where you install it but in Windows 7, for example, it is likely to be C:\Users\[username]\TorBrowser\FirefoxPortable\App\Firefox\Plugins.
If you have followed our instructions correctly you will now have two Windows Explorer windows open - one viewing the Flash installation folder and the other showing the Tor browser’s Plugins folder (and this one will currently be empty).
You now need to copy two files from the Flash installation folder to the Plugins folder. The first is called flashplayer.xpt but the name of the second varies depending on the precise version of Flash installed. Regardless, it will start with NPSWF32 and end in .dll (NPSWF32_11_2_202_235.dll, for example).
Hold down Control (Ctrl) and click to highlight both files. Keeping Control held down, drag and drop these two files into the Plugins folder to copy them across (if you do not hold down Control then the files will instead be moved, and this will stop Flash working elsewhere, so take great care here).
After all this, re-launch Tor and you should find that Flash content works.
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