About Plugins

When students ask why certain applications, videos, animations, or games aren’t working properly on their Mac or PC laptops the answer is often related to plugins.

What are they?

Plug-ins (sometimes called “add-ons”) are software modules that add to the functionality of an application. Many applications use plug-ins, including Photoshop, as well as web browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Web browsers typically use plug-ins to expand the range of formats they can display (e.g., Acrobat documents, QuickTime or Adobe Flash content).

Indiana University, University Technology Services Knowledge Base, last modified on September 11, 2012; http://kb.iu.edu/data/aaxs.html

Why update plugins?

Plugins need to be updated regularly to improve efficiency when browsing the web, protect against malware, viruses, and other security threats.  Because plugins don’t always update automatically we should teach our students where and how to look for them.

Firefox has a page that does a system check for you. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/plugincheck/


Find out about plugins for other browsers:

For Internet Explorer: http://tinyurl.com/9osbus3

For Google Crome: http://tinyurl.com/ckcd4xg

Mozilla supplemental information: http://plugindoc.mozdev.org

On Safari it takes less than a minute to see which plugins are installed on your computer.

Follow these steps:

  • Open Safari web browser icon in the dock
  • Click on Help at the top of your screen
  • On drop-down menu select Installed Plugins
  • A new window opens with a view detailing information on current plugins


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