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How to disable plugin-container

Plugin-container.exe is a Firefox process that is used to load plugins separately so if a plugin crashes for whatever reason, Firefox won’t be affected by the crash and will stay responsive.

Since there are a lot of people experiencing problems with the plugin-container process I wanted to provide you with two easy methods for disabling it.

In older versions of Firefox it was possible to disable plugin-container.exe by following the steps below.

First method

  1. Enter about:config in your address bar
  2. Search for dom.ipc.plugins.enabled
  3. Set their values to false

Sadly the above method doesn’t seem to work anymore with the newer versions of Firefox. Luckily there is a different workaround which can achieve the same exact result by setting a system or a user environment variable. Follow the steps below if the first method did not work for you.

Second method

  1. Right click on your computer icon on the desktop and click properties
  2. Go to Advance system settings
  3. Click the button called "Environment Variables"
  4. Click the “New” button under User variables or System variables depending if you want the change to affect all the users on the system or just the one you are currently logged as
  5. Set the variable name to MOZ_DISABLE_OOP_PLUGINS and its value to 1

And that is all you have to do. Now simply restart Firefox and you will notice that the plugin-container.exe process will not be used any more.

    46 Responses to How to disable plugin-container

    1. xfN03gek says:

      Normally I do not read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up quite forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite good post.

    2. Skafandri says:

      Normally i dont comment/reply Blogs or Posts, but i wish to say: You saved my CPU!!

    3. Brian Daniels says:

      Thank you CooLMinE. My wife’s CPU has been liberated. Thanks for posting this.

    4. PHAM NGHIA says:

      thank you member sended post

    5. Albertarocks says:

      Thanks CooLMinE. That damned plugin container has been hounding my machine since forever… up until now. Happy New Year.

      • CooLMinE says:

        I know the feeling, first Firefox’s plugin container then flash’s FlashPlayerPlugin process! Seems like everyone likes to spawn new processes nowadays.

        Happy new year as well :)

    6. chafi says:

      thanks dear its very nice this methode

    7. Clive says:

      Thanks, man. One memory stealing process down. A dozen to go!

    8. Tracy says:

      Thank you so much for being a clever genius, this solution is wicked! I have been searching for a fix for days with an issue in Netflix- it freezes after I rewind or fast-forward (also in Chrome, but not IE). I found your post through a firefoxcrash blog and also shared it with my friends.

    9. Bob says:

      Fantastic. I used the second method. Worked great! Thank you so much for posting these instructions.

    10. Hamid says:

      Thanks mate, works well nice and clean instructions without any bs.

    11. JW Dant says:

      Do the plug ins still work after either method is used?

      • CooLMinE says:

        Yes, plugins are not affected in any way. The only difference, as explained to the first paragraph of this article, is that if a plugin crashes it will probably take Firefox down with it, whereas if plugin-container is enabled then plugin-container.exe will crash instead.

        • JW Dant says:

          OK. My trouble is more that many times after a Firefox crash then the box comes up that says plugin-container stopped working. After I’ve had to ctl-alt-del Task Manager my way out of Firefox

    12. JW Dant says:

      Haven’t yet. Thinking of doing it if it might make Firefox more stable on this machine.

      • CooLMinE says:

        Try the second method and see if that helps with the crashes (the first method isn’t working on the newest Firefox versions) .

        Worst case scenario if it is an unstable plugin causing the crashes, your Firefox will crash instead this time. In that case you can easily reverse the steps and switch back to the plugin container within a few seconds.

        Best case scenario it was a plugin conflicting with the sandbox environment of plugin container and the crashes will stop.

        But in general you have nothing to lose other than a couple minutes that it will take you to test it out, so you have nothing to worry about.

    13. JW Dant says:

      Disabled it the second way and working fine. Tried the trouble spot that blew it up this morning and all ok. Will keep advised. Thank you.

    14. edward says:

      My web site is not working all that well just wondering if this can be fix. please.

      • CooLMinE says:

        I will require a bit more information other than “is not working” to be able to help you.

        But in general, having the plugin-container disabled (or enabled) shouldn’t affect your website.

        The only reason it will affect a website is if you have a plugin installed that is conflicting with the website and it happens to conflict when in a separate process (plugin-container.exe).

        Other than the above (fairly small chance) scenario I don’t think disabling the plugin-container will fix your website, sorry.

    15. AJY says:

      Thanks. Method 2 worked like a “charm”. I owe you one.

    16. Tensys says:

      Thanks! This helped a lot. I was having trouble re-starting firefox quickly after closing it. It would take 8 seconds or so to relaunch when before it would load in a second or 2 at most. This second fix you listed not only fixed this issue but also just makes the browser in general a little quicker. Thanks again!

    17. Mr says:

      thanks. Method 2 worked

    18. Johnny says:

      I just did this. To be sure, if I want to undo option #2, I simply go back and hit “delete”, right?

    19. clyde devins says:

      Second method did NOT work for me. I get the plugin-container only when I open a new tab and then it quickly grows in size and crashes when it runs out of RAM. To counter it – I’ve been able to kill the process under task manager the 5 times in succession it reloads and then the new tab is fine. Any ideas. Running latest version of Firefox (29.0.1). I also tried disabling add-ons when loading firefox and that didn’t seem to resolve the issue either.

      • CooLMinE says:

        As far as plugin-container.exe goes, I am running the latest version as well (currently 29.0.1) and method 2 stops the plugin-container process from starting. Have you followed all steps ? (a typo perhaps ?)

        Now with the memory issue, if your plugin-container grows in ram that much (GB’s ?) that it actually ends up crashing, then you have a more serious problem to troubleshoot as it something it shouldn’t happen regardless if you are using the container or not.

        Usually the cause for these kind of issues are the plugins, but if you actually disabled all the plugins as you said (have you tried safe-mode ?) then something else might be causing the issue.

        I would recommend updating your flash player and also create a new profile for Firefox (this will reset your settings) in order to narrow down the issue a bit more.

        • clyde devins says:

          Since I was running current version of Firefox I skipped method 1 and proceeded to method 2 (above). I cut and pasted variable name so typo not likely (grin). Restarted. There was no change in plug-container loading on opening new tab. Tried in safe-mode and again plugin-container loads. Visited one of the sites that indicated which plugins were updated and as you suggested indeed the Flashplayer needed updating. The result of that was that the number of plugin-containers that loaded was reduced from 5 to 1 (meaning – I just have to end the process once in task manager). Progress I suppose but still a pain in the arss. What next ? Reset Firefox ? Any other workaround ? Would kinda like to know what is triggering it and why ? Seems to be triggered by opening a new tab – does that help ?

          • CooLMinE says:

            The plugin-container process pretty much contains the code that is executed by the plugins. So if it starts when you open a new tab (is it an empty tab ?) then you probably have a plugin that executes some code when a new tab is created. Which also means the environmental variable is not set correctly as the process shouldn’t start if it was.

            Does plugin-container still crashes because of memory usage after you updated your flash player and your plugins by the way ?

            Also, have you tried setting the system variable for both the current user and the system (all users) in case something is conflicting with it ?

            If you want to troubleshoot your Firefox a bit more take a look at https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/troubleshoot-firefox-issues-using-safe-mode#w_how-to-start-firefox-in-safe-mode. This will explain you in simple steps how to start Firefox in safe mode (assuming you are still having the memory issue, the plugin-container process won’t be affected by that).

            • clyde devins says:

              Plugin-container.exe eventually crashes regardless of being in safe mode or not (so it isn’t an extension). I guess I’ll try not activating all of the plugins and see if that makes it go away. The environmental variable is set as shown above (easy enough to follow and I didn’t type it I cut & pasted the name etc and set value to 1 (One) not I or L or TRUE or anything like that.

            • clyde devins says:

              Follow up.
              Disabled all plugins.
              Restarted in SAFE mode.
              Open a new tab and plugin-container.exe spawns itself.
              So what starts that process if no extensions turned on or plugin’s activated ???

            • CooLMinE says:

              Even with no plugins installed the plugin-container will start as soon as you run a video (flash) for example. Same goes for quicktime, real player etc.

              What troubles me is that your Firefox still spawns the plugin-container disregarding the setting which should stop it. That is extremely odd. You didn’t answer my previous question by the way. On the second method (step 4) there are two ways to set the variable, system wide and user wide, have you tried both of them ?

              As for the crashing, my guess would be codecs at this point. Have you installed any codec packs in your system by any chance ? Though audio and video codecs would cause the plugin-container process to start when a video or audio is played in Firefox and not on a new tab.

              You have a quite tricky issue in your hands.

    20. clyde devins says:

      Since I was running a new/updated version of Firefox I skipped Method 1 and followed Method 2. I didn’t mention it but after Method 2 didn’t work I also went back and examined Method 1 where no change was needed since dom.ipc.plugins.enabled was already set to false.

      In answer to your other suggestion: Yes, I set the system variable initially for user but also went back and set it for system.

      So, at the moment with all plugin’s not activated plugin-container spawns when I open a new tab (oddly not when a url opens up in a new tab). Not sure if relevant or not but when I open a new tab I’m shown a blank page with 9 previously pinned website bookmarks which I believe is standard but suggests that besides just opening the tab another process must populate those sub-windows. Grabbing at straws here.

      If firefox is open source then would the code for opening tabs be viewable to determine how MOZ_DISABLE_OOP_PLUGINS is used and if something is spawning the plugin-container.exe after that variable is checked ???

      Could reset firefox but I believe I’ve also done that before and no change noted.

    21. CooLMinE says:

      Method 1 doesn’t work anymore so you don’t have to worry about that one. I just kept it there in case someone else was using an older version.

      Can you verify that the variable has been set by typing “set” (without the quotes) in the command prompt ? You should get a list with all the variables that are set, verify that MOZ_DISABLE_OOP_PLUGINS=1 is in that list.

      As for the source code, it would be tricky to dig through the source code (http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/29.0.1/source/) just like that to find something like this without getting familiar with the project first. Best bet would probably be to raise a ticket in Mozilla’s support forums to figure out why the variable is not working as intended.

    22. clyde devins says:

      I’m brain farting I suppose – where did you wish for me to type the SET command. From the start|run|cmd or from someplace else ?

      The environment variables for User & System both show MOZ_DISABLE_OOP_PLUGINS with a value of 1 (right click my computer | Properties | Advanced | Environment Variables …

      I did reset firefox which made the problem worse – in that I had to kill the plugin-container process 5-7 times for each new open tab. Even after changing all plugins to never activate. But get this … from my earlier point/observation the 9 pinned placeholders were scrambled a bit and in my attempt to reposition them by moving and deleting a bunch of recently visited pages … the next time I opened up a new tab it took like 15+ kill processes (ie around the number of url/boxes I deleted) to finally stop the plugin-container from reloading. Then when I opened up a new tab again it only took one kill process. Hence – I think that may lead to the solution in some way. Meaning – opening up a new tab spawned the first occurrence of plugin-container but the environment variable suppressed any others from loading unless I go and delete additional boxes and then it cues up a one time plugin-container for each event. Am I making sense ? So, perhaps a variable could shut off that 9 panel bookmark page all together – any ideas ?

      • CooLMinE says:

        I can actually duplicate your problem to some extend so this is not something that affects only you by the looks of it (minus the crashing and the ram usage). In my case if I drop a URL in one of those 9 boxes the plugin-container starts, but if I close it (or restart Firefox) the plugin-container process doesn’t start again. Could it be that you have a website in those 9 boxes that triggers it a bit different ? Since by the looks of it Firefox attempts to run those websites in order to create a screenshot of it.

        My “new tab” is empty, in other words, I have no bookmarks pinned in those 9 boxes. If I pin any URL (including this one) the plugin-container process starts immediately. So it seems to have something to do with that specific feature.

        Quite good observation, thanks for bringing it up. I will take a look at it to see if there a way to make that tab stop spawning the process and I will report back here when I have more details.

        In the meanwhile if you want to get rid of the plugin-container process simply unpin all the urls from those 9 boxes in the “new tab” tab and use the top bookmark bar (View -> Toolbars -> Bookmarks Toolbar) to navigate to your favourite websites.

        • clyde devins says:

          My guess is that the 9 window tab page stores a queue of thumbnails for those respective url’s and once it has found a snapshot of it then no process will be spawned to fill it. My workaround was to pin 9 known/visited sites thus never having to spawn the plugin-container.exe to go and find an empty slot or next available slot. Lame workaround for sure but at the moment effective. Curious though that if you just repeated delete one of the panels it spawns plugin-container for each of the url’s from your recent history instead of just having one for the most current panel it is looking for ie the interrupts just queue themselves.

          Now to further delve into this. The reason this came to my attention was because one of the panel’s url went obsolete and firefox was trying to repopulate a panel url.

          BTW – if I turn off the grid that doesn’t work because one plugin-container seems to spawn automatically (even though likely a null return). So for me … solution was to eventually work it where I had 9 active url’s with thumbnails located and stored in some firefox list it uses to populate those panels.

          It took some doing to get 9 url’s I wanted to lock into place and the effort to do so suggests to me that the firefox list is perhaps corrupted in some way because of the way it repopulated itself in random ways when I restarted firefox or even moved some of the panels around. Probably deserves more investigation if this issue reoccurs. For the moment some bliss.

          • CooLMinE says:

            Trying to narrow it down to if it is a website issue or a Firefox issue. In your case I would say it is probably a mixture of both.

            Firefox starts the plugin-container when it shouldn’t be (in my case I can only trigger it by adding a bookmark in one of the boxes), but after that if I restart Firefox the plugin-container will never start again. If it is indeed a corruption issue then a new profile for Firefox (or a full reset) would be the way to go to identify that.

            As for the websites you had pinned before, do they have any sensitive information in them ? If not, can you give me all 9 links, in the same order you had them (one never knows !) to actually test if my Firefox behaves the same as yours ? If you are uncomfortable posting them here feel free to use the contact us form. That would be an easy way to identify if it is a website triggering the issue or if it something to do with Firefox only.

            • clyde devins says:

              Wrote a much longer reply but when I submitted it this site was down for maintenance or something. Ugh.

              I did do a reset which re-introduces the problem because the list of thumbnailed url’s must be repopulated.

              BTW nothing sensitive about the panels I use. Your basic home pages of ebay, amazon, local library, abe books, and some sports sites.

              The reason you can only recreate the issue once is that once you drop a link into one of the panels plugin-container spawns and thereby loads the webpage and creates the thumbnail and stores in a list for the next time you open a tab. Try visiting a bunch of random pages after doing some searches … and then start deleting the panels so that the most recent history starts populating the panels. I think you’ll see the plugin-container continue to spawn even if you kill the process over and over again. That make sense ?

            • CooLMinE says:

              I see what you mean. I will give it a go.

              I currently have the history completely turned off so those boxes don’t get populated with anything, but I will do a test install of Firefox with full default settings on my virtual machine and give it a go as soon as I find time.

              Also, sorry about the maintenance, I had to update a few things, although you might be a bit unlucky as it usually takes just a few seconds :)

    23. Phyl says:

      Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. Thank you!

    24. tojihi says:

      tnx for this post… its very usefull

    25. tombaker says:

      I had the problem of the Tab recreating the plugin-container even though I went through all the steps, above where it should have been gone. But when I opened a new tab, it would create a plugin-contaier.exe process.

      My solution was
      1. Get off the BETA side of Firefox updates. I don’t think was the cause, but I was surprised I was on it.
      2. Uninstall Flash and put in back in.
      3. I used the Flash uninstall utility http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/uninstall-flash-player-windows.html
      4. Restarted
      5. Opened Firefox, went to a site that needed Flash, and let Firefox do the install.

      I think my previous Flash install was corrupted in some manner. I think its solved now

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