In computing, a plug-in (or plugin, add-in, addin, add-on, or addon) is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing computer program. When a program supports plug-ins, it enables customization.


Digital Darkroom from Silicon Beach Software was the first Macintosh program to incorporate a plug-in architecture in 1988. Ed Bomke at Silicon Beach is credited with having coined the term "plug-in".[1][2][3] The first application from Adobe Systems to incorporate plug-ins is Adobe Photoshop 1.0.[4] Adobe began the Adobe Developers Association to provide software development kits to facilitate the creation of plug-ins and other software extensions.[5]

Web browsers historically allowed executables as plug-ins, such as Adobe Flash Player to play back Flash content and Java virtual machine for applets, though they have now been mostly deprecated due to concerns of internet security.


  1. Electronic Darkrooms Perform Photo Retouching, Enhancement Traditionally done in labs, Shutterbug. 1999-12. Archived 2008-11-03.
  2. Photoshop Compatible Plug-Ins, Shutterbug. 1999-12-01. Archived 2008-11-03.
  3. Monochrome Plug-Ins; From Color To Black & White In A Few Steps by Joe Farace, Shutterbug. 2009-02-01. Archived 2008-11-03.
  4. Thomas and John Knoll by Jeff Schewe, Photoshop News, originally published in PEI Magazine. 2000-09.
  5. Adobe Developer Relations, Adobe Systems. Archived 1996-11-21.

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