Background info: I've locked down my /Library folder so even the admin group can't write (only root can).

The Adobe update app opens the password dialog when I click "install". Is it possible to install without giving root access to this executable?

The ps command says the installer is running as $TMPDIR/FPUnpackPath/Install Adobe Flash Player.app/Contents/MacOS/Adobe Flash Player Install Manager. That file is a compiled binary (Mach-O).

I also found a single dpkg directory: Contents/Resources/Adobe Flash Player.pkg. Under this is Contents/Archive.pax.gz. The file list looks innocent enough, my existing installation seems to have the files under /Library.

Would the install be clean if I just run the dpkg file, rather than proceeding with their Mach-O binary? I take it that running the dpkg is safer? (I have a feeling that the Mach-O only does installation-support stuff like making sure the old files aren't in use before replacing.) Please support your answer with evidence, don't merely speculate.

Btw, Cmd-I when the Installer app is running will list the contents. Very nice. (See How can I open a .pkg file manually?)

2 Answers 2


Download the dmg from Adobe's website. Mount it and right click on the Install Adobe Flash Player.app and select "Show Package Contents."

Drill down into Contents > Resources:

enter image description here Launch the Adobe Flash Player.pkg:

enter image description here

When the plugin installer launches, go to File > Show Files (or CMD + I).

enter image description here There you will see a list of the files it installs and where. You'll need to use something like Pacifist to extract the contents, but once you do, you can install the files manually. And yes, the install would be just as clean if you used the pkg to install the plugin. It's not any safer, it's just an alternate route that doesn't have the Adobe wrapper (so it doesn't use Adobe's proprietary installer).

  • Why is it not any safer? Can executables in the pkg be run when a pkg is installed? What would these look like in the pkg file? Btw, the pkgutil terminal util can unpack (--expand) a pkg file.
    – Kelvin
    Mar 21, 2012 at 16:09
  • I had a use for this too... sadly you can no longer do this. Adobe gives you a stub app, which then downloads all the components. Dec 2, 2014 at 1:24
  • @kelvin if MacOSX stuck to its FreeBSD roots, then Dec 2, 2014 at 1:27
  • Sadly this isn't an answer, as the Flash Player plugin can't just be copied into place manually, as it has a .lzma extension and can't be decompressed with normal tools. I'm adding an answer that should cover how to do this.
    – Haravikk
    Sep 26, 2020 at 12:01

If you need to install Flash Player.plugin manually, I've found a workaround, but it's a bit of a pain due to how Adobe packages it. For this you will need Pacifist by CharlesSoft or another tool capable of opening macOS installer packages (or find out how to extract what you need using pkgutil), you also need a full download of the Flash Player plugin (not the internet enabled one), the correct download should be a disk image of around 15-16mb.

Steps are as follows:

  1. In Finder, mount install_flash_player_osx.dmg
  2. In the Flash Player disk image, right click "Install Adobe Flash Player" and choose "Show Package Contents".
  3. Inside the package, open Contents, then Resources, and open Adobe Flash Player.pkg in Pacifist (or similar, or get ready to use pkgutil to do it).
  4. If you already have Flash Player.plugin installed under ~/Library/Internet/Plug-Ins, you may wish to take a copy of it as a backup.
  5. In the contents of the installer package (the BOM file), locate Flash Player.plugin.lzma and flashplayer.xpt under Library and Internet Plug-Ins, and copy them to your ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins folder.
  6. In the resources for the installer package, locate the finalize tool under Scripts and copy it somewhere.
  7. Finally, run the following command in Terminal.app (with the correct path to finalize): /path/to/finalize "$HOME"

After completing the last step, the Flash Player.plugin.lzma file should be decompressed as Flash Player.plugin, overwriting any previous plugin. If you have a Flash enabled browser open, you'll need to restart it to use the new plugin.

If you'd rather not do this using your plugins folder, and just want to get a decompressed version of the plugin, then you don't have to; all the finalize tool wants is an install location, under which it will then look for Library/Internet Plug-Ins/Flash Player.plugin.lzma. You could therefore decompress it from your Downloads folder by copying the plugin to ~/Downloads/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/Flash Player.plugin.lzma and then running /path/to/finalize ~/Downloads.

Of course, Flash support is ending soon, but it may stick around in some browsers like FireFox for a while, so I thought it would be good to document how to manually install rather than installing as root along with all the other crap the installer adds (launch agents, preference pane etc.). If you want a way to play .swf files without a browser, you should look for a standalone Flash player, such as the Adobe Flash Projector.

  • Flash no longer works in Safari 14. Hopefully in the 8 years since this question was asked, the OP doesn't need it anymore.
    – benwiggy
    Sep 26, 2020 at 13:47
  • It's not about providing them with an answer as such, but ensuring anyone who else needs it can find the answer. The Flash plugins still work in Firefox for example, as that's why I bothered to figure this out so I could install the plugin as a single standard user account rather than system-wide as an admin.
    – Haravikk
    Sep 27, 2020 at 16:32

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