If you get a message to update Adobe Flash on your Mac, use this quick tip to make sure you have the latest version installed.

Adobe periodically updates its Flash software with new features and security updates. If you get a message saying Flash is out of date, there's an easy way to tell if you need to update it.

We all love to hate Flash — it sucks down battery life on Mac laptops like nothing else, and is used by annoying ads and seems increasingly irrelevant in an era of HTML5. Yet many of us still rely on it to show some videos and make accessible web sites for restaurants, hotels and other places that we want to check out.

What's worse is that some malware developers use disguised "Flash installers" as a way to get their malware onto your Mac. Some web sites may pop up a message telling you that your software is out of date and demanding that you "update," and once you do, blam — your Mac is saddled with adware or malware that will redirect your browser or worse.

If you already have Flash installed on your Mac, and get a message that you need to update it, don't arbitrarily click an update button. Follow these instructions to make sure you actually need the update.

To update Flash on your Mac

  1. Press the command key on your keyboard and hit the space bar to open Apple's Spotlight app.
  2. Type Flash Player and open the System Preference with that name.
  3. Click on the Updates tab.
  4. Click on the Check Now button.
  5. If an update needs to be installed, the software will prompt you.

That's it! Don't let sketchy web sites take advantage of you. This way you'll stay up to date safely.

Well, as safely as you can with Flash installed, but that's another story...