Fix common audio and video issues

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Sometimes, the video or audio content in a web page cannot be properly downloaded and displayed in Firefox. A required plugin may be missing, outdated, blocked, in conflict with another plugin or extension, or the content may be blocked for some reason. This article will help you solve these problems.

Note: If you see the shield icon Mixed Content Shield in the address bar and you're having trouble with that website, please see Mixed content blocking in Firefox

You may need to install the required PulseAudio software

If you see a notification saying "To play audio, you may need to install the required PulseAudio software", it means that Firefox cannot find or use PulseAudio. Starting with Firefox 52, the PulseAudio software is required to play any audio from Firefox. Most Linux distributions now come with PulseAudio pre-installed.

Use your system's software package manager and ensure that PulseAudio is correctly installed.

HTML5 audio and video

Firefox has built in support for open media formats usually associated with WebM, Ogg and Wave containers. However MP3 and MP4 containers usually depend on platform decoders for MP3, AAC and H.264 audio and video streams. For more information, see Fix video and audio playback problems on Firefox for Windows and HTML5 audio and video in Firefox.


Support ended for all NPAPI plugins except for Flash in Firefox version 52, released March 7, 2017. See this compatibility document and this article for details.

Beginning with Firefox version 52, support has ended for all NPAPI plugins except for Adobe Flash. See this compatibility document and this article for details.

Note: The 64-bit version of Firefox recognizes and supports only the Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight NPAPI plugins.

Install missing plugins

Although Firefox is able to handle certain HTML5 audio and video content on web pages, it may need the help of media players and browser plugins for other content. Although you may have the correct media players installed to play video and audio files, you may be missing the necessary plugins when the media is embedded within the web page itself.

When a plugin is missing, a message will appear in place of the content:

  • "A plugin is needed to display this content" indicates that the plugin is not installed on your machine.
    flash required fx35

If a link to download the plugin does not appear, install the plugin manually by visiting the instructions for the plugin that you want:

For other, less common, media players and their plugins, see these websites:

Enable or activate plugins

If a plugin is disabled in the Add-ons Manager, you won't be able to use it.

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Add-ons. The Add-ons Manager tab will open.

  2. In the Add-ons Manager tab, select the Plugins panel.
  3. Review the list of plugins to see if any of them are disabled.
    • To enable a plugin, click on Never Activate and select either Ask to Activate or Always Activate in its drop-down menu.

If you see an Activate (name of plugin) icon on web pages, where the plugin content should be, you'll need to click on the icon to activate the plugin:

activate flash

For more information, see Why do I have to click to activate plugins?.

Update your plugins

Check that you have the latest versions of all your plugins and update any plugins that are out of date.

Allow Plugin Container in your Internet security program

Allow your Internet security software (including firewalls, antivirus programs, anti-spyware programs, and more) to trust plugin-container.exe also known as Plugin Container for Firefox. For detailed instructions, see Configure firewalls so that Firefox can access the Internet where in that case Firefox means Plugin Container for Firefox.

Disable a conflicting plugin

If you have more than one plugin installed that can handle the same media type, this can cause a conflict that prevents some embedded media from playing. You may be able to fix the issue by disabling one of the plugins.

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Add-ons. The Add-ons Manager tab will open.

  2. In the Add-ons Manager tab, select the Plugins panel.
  3. In the list of plugins, select the plugin you wish to troubleshoot.
    • If you want to disable the plugin, select Never Activate in its drop-down menu.
    • If you want to re-enable the plugin, select Always Activate in its drop-down menu.

For example, you may need to disable the VLC plugin to play embedded QuickTime or Windows Media content. For more information about troubleshooting problems caused by plugins, see the Troubleshoot issues with plugins like Flash or Java to fix common Firefox problems article.

Other solutions

Clear the cache

See How to clear the Firefox cache.

Disable interfering extensions or ad-blocking software

  • Ad-blocking software, such as anti-banner filters of your Internet Security program, or extensions, such as Flashblock or Adblock Plus, can prevent audio or video content from playing. If the site works with ad-blocking disabled, you may want to add the site to your whitelist in your adblocker filter.
  • Any Firefox extension can also block plugins. If the video or audio plays when you disable all extensions, then one of your extensions was causing the problem. For more information, see Troubleshoot extensions, themes and hardware acceleration issues to solve common Firefox problems.

Check some Firefox settings

  • Cookies:
  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Options.Preferences.
  2. Select the PrivacyPrivacy & Security panel and go to the History section.

  3. In the drop-down menu next to Firefox will:Firefox will choose Use custom settings for history.
    customhistory38 Fx56Privacy&Security-CustomHistory-new
  4. Verify that cookies are enabled and that the site is not blocked in the Cookie Exceptions list.
  • Pop-up windows:
  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Options.Preferences.
  2. Select the Content panelPrivacy & Security panel and go to the Permissions section.
  3. Allow the website as an exception to the "Block pop-up windows" setting.

Remove specific entries in the hosts file (advanced users)

If you use a hosts file, you can temporarily disable it by renaming it Xhosts. Or, you can edit the hosts file to remove specific entries such as that can cause videos on certain sites to fail (for more information, see this MozillaZine forum thread). To apply changes to your hosts file, you may need to flush the DNS cache by entering the command: ipconfig /flushdns in the Run dialog box on Windows.

Based on information from Video or audio does not play (mozillaZine KB)

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