How to Enable Silverlight on Mac

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Microsoft Silverlight is an already deprecated application framework used for writing and running rich internet applications. It can be likened to Adobe Flash. Its early versions centered on streaming media, while later ones supported multimedia, graphics, as well as animation. The latter also provided developers with support for CLI languages along with development tools.

Industry watchers were quick to observe Silverlight’s death as early as 2011. The following year, Silverlight fell out of favor and Microsoft deprecated it for HTML5 in Windows 8. Before 2015 ended, everybody knew that it was doomed, but the company remained largely unclear about its future.

Some Mac users, however, probably wonder: is Silverlight needed on Mac? Should they still install and enable it on their machine? Here are a few answers to burning questions about the technology near its demise.

What Is Silverlight?

Now in Silverlight 5, the program is defined on the Microsoft site as a “powerful development tool for creating engaging, interactive user experiences for web and mobile applications.” The free plugin is powered by the .NET framework. It is compatible with different browsers, devices, as well as operating systems.

The multiple perceived uses and benefits of Silverlight include:

  • Media – It is hailed for the highest-quality interact video experiences both live and on-demand across various formats. This, while it protects content.
  • Business – It enables users to create business apps that offer richer and deeper interactivity, harnessing the tools and skills developers are already equipped with. It is poised to eliminate the IT challenge of deploying across multiple browsers and OS.
  • Mobile – It seeks to build touch-based apps quickly through familiar tools. The aim is to distribute via the Windows Phone Marketplace.

End-of-Life Timeline

From its initial launch back in 2007, Silverlight was already compared to Adobe’s Flash. It helped provide video streaming for different events, including the NBC coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and the 2008 conventions for the two U.S. political parties.

Silverlight was also harnessed for the video streaming services of Amazon Video and Netflix. Since getting wind of Silverlight’s end of life, however, Netflix announced in 2013 that it was moving to HTML5 video.

In a July 2015 blog, Microsoft encouraged companies using Silverlight for media to start transitioning to DASH/MSE/CENC/EME based designs. It set October 2021 as the overall support end date for Silverlight 5.

Here is support information for various browsers and programs:

  • IE9 to 11 – Until late 2021, depending on the operating system
  • Google Chrome – No longer supports it since September 2015
  • Mozilla Firefox – No longer supports it since March 2017
  • Microsoft Edge – No plugin is available
  • macOS – No support since Firefox 52, Safari 12, and Chrome 45

How to Enable Silverlight on Mac

If you are a Mac user and, by any chance, you find that you still need Silverlight, there are still ways to install and enable it on your computer. Don’t expect to have an easy time with it, though.

A user on macOS High Sierra, for instance, finds that Silverlight works on Safari until he gets to Safari 12. He has updated to Mojave at the same time. Upon further research, he discovers online that Safari no longer supports Silverlight, yet he couldn’t see any information about Mojave blocking apps from using the plugin.

Is it time for them to quit Silverlight altogether while staying on Mojave, or roll back to High Sierra to use the plugin again?

One handy solution is to stick to using Firefox 52.9.0 ESR, which appears to work fine with Silverlight.

Now, it’s time for us to dig deeper into the issue of Silverlight for Mac not being recognized, or if you are continually prompted to install it. You’re likely having this problem when you receive an error message (stating an install is needed) whenever you try to access a website requiring Silverlight to display content.

This can be caused by different reasons, including:

  • An earlier version of Silverlight is in your system. However, it doesn’t meet the requirements for the plugin the site is using.
  • The plugin is actually not installed.
  • Your browser is set to “Run using Rosetta.” This will lead your machine to be incorrectly identified as a PowerPC-based Mac.

Before troubleshooting, try to assess the current environment in which the software runs. It also helps to clean out junk and other nuisance files that could be getting in the way of your Mac’s stable operations. A reliable third-party Mac optimizer tool gets this done.

Next, follow these steps:

  1. On the Apple menu, choose About this Mac.
  2. Note the processor type, speed, RAM, as well as operating system information. Certain sites have particular requirements in order for you to view their content.
  3. Close the window. Next, close all open browser windows.
  4. On the desktop, double-click the hard drive icon.
  5. Next, double-click the Library folder.
  6. Open the Internet Plug-ins folder.
  7. If you find a file named Silverlight.plugin, the plug-in is installed. To know the version, select the file and choose Get Info on the File menu. Note the displayed version number.
    • If the version number displayed is 1.0.xxx and your processor type is a PowerPC: The right version of the plugin is installed.
    • If you have an Intel processor: All versions of Silverlight are supported. You are recommended, though, to run the latest version. This way, you can access sites using the latest features and benefit from the latest product improvements.

Here are the solutions you can try for each of the three potential causes of the problem.

An Earlier Version of Silverlight Is in Your System

Typically, the website uses Silverlight 3 for its content to properly show. If this is the case, it looks at whether your system complies with the requirement. If your system doesn’t, you are directed to an upgrade on the Silverlight site. If, on the other hand, you’re using a PowerPC, the site knows this and only version 1 can be installed. Discuss this situation with the site’s support team.

The Plugin Is Actually Not Installed

Follow these instructions:

  1. On your browser, visit http://silverlight.net/getstarted/.
  2. Look for Install Silverlight in the lower-right section of the window.
    • If you are running an Intel processor, click Mac Runtimefound next to Silverlight 3.
    • If not, click Runtime for Mac PowerPClocate next to Silverlight 1.0.
  3. Once the download is complete, installation will automatically begin. Follow the steps outlined in the installation wizard.
  4. Once installation is complete, you will be prompted to exit your browser. Close your browser windows and restart the browser. By this time, it should recognize the new plug-in.

Your Browser Is Set to ‘Run Using Rosetta’

Follow these steps:

  1. On the desktop, double-click the hard drive icon.
  2. Select the Applications folder.
  3. Look for the icon for the browser that you are using. Make sure to hold down the CTRL key while clicking the icon.
  4. Choose Get Info.
  5. Locate the Run using Rosetta option. This check box should not be selected. If it is, then untick the check box. Close the window.
  6. Click Restart on the Apple menu.
  7. After your computer reboots, try to access the website that generated the error message.

Note that if the right version of the plugin isn’t installed, you should ensure that the Run using Rosetta check box is not selected as well. Afterwards, follow the steps in the last section to install the plugin.

Final Notes

Is Silverlight needed on Mac? Only you can answer this question, depending on your needs and preferences. Silverlight 5 is on life support until October 2021, at which point Microsoft will cease to support it.

Try one of the fixes we provided above if you need to install and enable Silverlight on your Mac for whatever reason you find necessary.

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