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Force Flash Movies and Animations to Low Quality

by Oscar Sodani
December 20, 2008

Oscar Sodani is a founder of Help2Go and owner of Help2Go Networks, an IT consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area. Oscar holds the CISSP certification as well as industry certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and Novell.

If you have a very slow computer you may find that Flash movies and animations run VERY slowly for you. Usually the way to speed them up and improve Flash's performance is to right-click on the Flash object and choose Quality -> Low. But how can you force Flash to run movies at low quality automatically?

After much tooling around, I discovered that Flash itself does not provide the ability to automatically set a quality rating. It's done by the author of the movie or animation, who usually set the quality to HIGH. But, with the power of Firefox and an add-in called Greasemonkey, you can set Firefox to automatically set the Flash quality to LOW.

This works great for older PCs and Macs or people with very slow Internet connections. It is also ideal for children with a One Laptop Per Child computer (OLPC) who have installed Firefox.

Step 1: Install Greasemonkey

First, with Firefox, download the Greasemonkey add-on here. Install the add-on, then restart Firefox. Then return to this article to finish the tutorial.

Step 2: Install the User Script

Next, you'll need to install a user script called Force Low Quality Flash. The credit for this goes to a user by the name of Mikado who posted the solution in a Greasemonkey forum. I made the script available for public download here. When you go to that link, click the Install button and it will grab the latest version of the script.

Step 3: Test

Next, go to a site heavy on Flash. My children frequent, so that's where I go to test it out.  After the Flash animation loads, right-click on it and check the quality. If it is set to Low, we have success!

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