We all have numerous plugins in our web browsers. These are small programs which add functionality to your browser “experience”. For example, the Adobe Shockwave plugin is what most people use to view “Flash” animations, or you may have Apple’s QuickTime plugin to watch videos. These plugins, like any other program, sometimes have bugs and security holes which are fixed over time.
How can you tell what plugins you have? The method varies depending on the browser, but here are a few:
- Internet Explorer. From the menu, select “Tools”, and then “Manage Add-ons”.
- Firefox. In the address bar, type “about:plugins”. Or, from the menu, select “Tools” and then “Add-ons”, and select the “Plugins” tab.
- Safari. From the menu, select “Help”, and then “Installed Plug-ins”.
- Chrome. (Sorry, but I don’t currently have Chrome installed.)
In my Firefox browser, I currently have 25 plugins installed.
So, how do you figure out which plugins are current, and which have updates available?
Well, Firefox can check for updates for you from the Tools/Add-ons/Plugins dialog, by clicking the “Find updates” button. But, I don’t see any easy way of doing so in Internet Explorer or Safari.
Fortunately, Mozilla (the authors of Firefox) have created a web page which can do this (at least for most plugins) for you. The web page is <http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/plugincheck/>. And, if it determines that a plugin is out of date, it gives you a button to click to take you to the plugin’s download page to get the latest version.
“But, wait”, I hear you saying, “I don’t use Firefox”. Don’t worry! The page works for all browsers I have tested it on. Sure, the text on the page gives you advice on how to do things in Firefox, but the plugin check works just fine regardless.