I'm curious, sometimes I'm working on Gmail (using Google Chrome), and Flash Player crashes. When this happens my YouTube video tab stop shows the video, and Gmail doesn't stop, but it does show the "Flash crashed" message, as if it were using it for something.

Any idea if Gmail uses Flash, and for what?


8 Answers 8


Gmail uses Flash for file upload and voice/video chat, I believe.

  • Yes, it is needed for GTalk/Chat, but not for long. Google, Mozilla and Opera are putting a lot of effort into finalizing WebRTC (a W3C standard) for their browsers. I believe that is supposed to allow them to support comm apps without any plug-ins.
    – Tom
    Mar 4, 2013 at 17:13

Nowhere in Gmail's source does it mention Flash. I did a little more digging and it appears that you need Flash though if you want to use the voice or video chat. It may use Flash in some advanced features in composition. Where do you notice you are in Gmail when the crash happens?

  • 3
    @Daits flash is used as an alternative for file upload Dec 11, 2010 at 0:30
  • I'm watching a video in another window, when it crashes all tabs that are using flash crashes too.. but gmail continue to work fine :)
    – Tom Brito
    Dec 11, 2010 at 0:35

It also uses (or at least used to use) Flash to play the notification sound when a new chat arrived.

  • 1
    It does still use Flash to play chat notification noises.
    – Saiboogu
    Jul 3, 2011 at 15:01

It says on this Google Chat Help page

Macromedia Flash must be enabled on your computer if you'd like audio notification for each incoming chat.

  • The wording was changed but the idea is the same: Flash is required by Google Chat audio notifications. Jan 11, 2016 at 21:11

Voice and video Chat require Flash.


Short answer: Yes, it does.

If you open Google Chrome background pages view, you can see that whenever you load the Gmail page, the Shockwave Flash plugin starts to run. Also if you kill the Shockwave Flash plugin there, it will notify on the Gmail tab that the process has problems.

Here is the background process listing:

Process Listing


Gmail uses flash for the chat feature. There are some bugs noted, just read about one today that can cause a USB bus crash.


I do not know what Google uses Flash for in Gmail, but when I have the Flash Player plugin disabled in IE8, I notice the information bar telling me to run the Flash Player plugin.

This is on the login webpage for Gmail.

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