Chrome now making it harder to use the Google Earth plugin

[Update: As of Chrome version 45, released circa 1st September, 2015, Chrome no longer supports NPAPI at all. ]

In June last year the Google Chrome team announced that they would be ending support for NPAPI based plugins by September 2014. NPAPI is an ageing technology used by, most notably, Java, Silverlight and the Google Earth plugin. It is being dropped largely because it is considered a potential security risk.

In September Google released a 64-bit version of Google Chrome that did not include support for the Google Earth plugin or other NPAPI based plugins. However, the 32-bit version still supported it and has continued to support it. Over time, however, Chrome has been making it increasingly difficult to run NPAPI plugins, requiring the user to explicitly allow a plugin to run before displaying it.

Now, Google has just released Chrome version 42 that drops support for NPAPI plugins by default. It is still possible to get them back is via a Chrome flag, but presumably that option will soon be disabled too.

How to reenable NPAPI
For now, if you really need the Google Earth plugin in Chrome 32-bit, you can reenable NPAPI by entering the url: chrome://flags/#enable-npapi in the address bar then selecting ‘Enable’ below the ‘Enable NPAPI’ section then relaunch the browser.

The Google Earth plugin itself was deprecated in December and is set to stop working on 12th December 2015.

Firefox is also slowly phasing out NPAPI plugins and as far as we know the latest Internet Explorer only allows them in the 32 bit version in compatibility mode and not at all in the 64-bit version.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. Thanks for the info. I have enabled NPAPI as you have mentioned but still the Chrome 32bit v42 keeps on asking me to download the plugin…. What could be the possible reason ?

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Look in the right hand side of the address bar for an option to allow the plugin to run and give it permission to always run on that website.

      • It was working before but not now… It doesnt ask to allow plugin to run on website… I have already marked it as allow and remember… Thanks for the reply.

        • Timothy Whitehead says:

          Double-check that NPAPI is still enabled and restart Chrome. Also check whether the same site works in Firefox.

          • Great working now… I had enabled NPAPI but somehow wasnt working…. Tried today and working like a charm….. Thanks again for the help 🙂

  2. yes, it works enabling NPAPI. good job!

  3. Graeme Stewart says:

    Thank you for your help Timothy, i have now got it working as well thanks to your posts well done

  4. Sam Gerin says:


    I am using Chrome on a macbook 64bit v42. I followed the steps mentioned above but unfortunately it still doesn’t work.

    Does anyone know what it could be?

    Thanks for help,


  5. UIZ, Germany has developed webGIS plugin – chrome has no any issue in visualizing with google earth too.

  6. How to use the Google earth Plug-in if i have 32bit V45?

  7. I have no “ENABLE NPAPI” shown on the FLAGS PAGE. I’m Using 32bit CHROME, have the latest google earth and google plugin installed. help?

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Chrome no-longer supports NPAPI. I believe Firefox and Safari still support the Google Earth plugin although I have only tested Firefox (and it works satisfactorily).

  8. Sabe me dizer se ainda está funcionando? já tentei de tudo e não consigo fazer ele funcionar..

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