WWW FAQs: Why do I see a blue QuickTime question mark instead of Flash movies?

2007-11-05: You are seeing a blue question mark and a QuickTime logo on lots of websites. The contents should be playing in Macromedia Flash Player, but you see an error message from QuickTime instead. What's the problem?

You have Apple's QuickTime player software. Recent versions of Apple's QuickTime player software sometimes consider themselves to be the official player for Flash file formats as well. Unfortunately, they can't actually handle some Flash files. So you see the question mark... And no useful error message! Way to go, Apple.

Ouch! Can we fix it?

On Windows, yes— there is a simple fix which I will describe below.

On MacOS X, a similar series of steps usually does the job just as well.

How To Solve The Problem On Windows

Just follow these steps (for Windows— see below for the Mac):

1. Click the "Start" menu

2. Double-click "Control Panel"

3. Double-click the "QuickTime" icon

4. Select the "File Types" tab

5. Click the "+" sign to the left of "Miscellaneous"

6. Make sure "Flash media" is NOT checked

7. Click "OK"

8. Close the control panel

9. Restart your web browser (don't just refresh the page, exit Internet Explorer, Firefox or whichever browser you use and start it again).

How To Solve The Problem On MacOS X

1. Go to the Apple menu

2. Select "System Preferences"

3. Select "QuickTime"

4. Select the "Advanced" tab

5. Select "MIME Settings"

6. Select "Miscellaneous" and uncheck the "Flash" option.

7. Restart your web browser (don't just refresh the page, exit Safari, Firefox or whichever browser you use and start it again).

Flash movies should now play in the correct player, or invite you to download Flash Player if you don't already have it.

If you still see the blue question mark icon for a certain file, there's always the possibility that it really is a defective QuickTime file— the website's fault, not your computer's fault. In this case there's nothing you can do on your own computer to fix it. Complain (politely, please) to the owners of the page in question.

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