Fix: WebGL is Not Supported

Some users are reportedly unable to use WebGL-based sites like WebGL Earth, Shadertoy, etc. The message that comes up is ‘WebGL is not supported‘. Although the message is much more common with Google Chrome, it’s also confirmed to appear with other browsers (Opera & Firefox). The issue is not exclusive to a certain Windows version, but it’s mostly reported to occur with systems using an older GPU model.

WebGL is not supported

What is WebGL?

WebGL is a JavaScript API used for rendering interactive 2D and 3D graphics without the use of plug-ins within any compatible web browser. Although WebGL is fully integrated with most web standards, it’s still depended on GPU support and might not be available on older devices.

The main usage of WebGL is the implementation of GPU-accelerated usage of physics, effects and image processing as part of the web page canvas. The original author of WebGL is the Mozilla Foundation.

What is causing the ‘WebGL not supported’ issue?

We investigated this particular issue by looking at various user reports and the repair strategies that they themselves deployed to get this particular issue resolved. Based on what we gathered, there are several common scenarios that will trigger this particular issue:

  • Browser version dosen’t support WebGL – Older browser versions are not designed to support WebGL technology. If you’re encountering the issue with a severy outdated browser version, the fix is to update to a version that supports WebGL.
  • Hardware acceleration is not enabled in your browser – Although hardware acceleration is not a requirement for WebGL, we’ve found a lot of reports where the WebGL technology was not functioning correctly. Chrome is known to falsely report that WebGL is not supported if hardware acceleration is disabled. In this case, the solution is to access your browser settings and enable hardware acceleration from your browser.
  • Outdated Graphics drivers – Another possible trigger that will cause the ‘WebGL is not supported’ error is a severely outdated graphics driver. In this case, the fix to update the graphics driver to the latest version automatically (using Device Manager) or manually (using the proprietary updating software from your GPU manufacturer).
  • Windows XP doesn’t support WebGL – If you’re still using Windows XP, you’ll likely need to upgrade in order to use the WebGL technology. A workaround that will allow you to use XP is to use an older Chromium build (not recommended)

If you’re looking for a way to resolve the ‘WebGL is not supported‘ error on your browser, this article will provide you with several troubleshooting steps. Down below, you’ll find a collection of methods that other users in a similar situation have used to get the issue resolved.

Method 1: Check if your browser version supports WebGL 

Keep in mind that not all browser versions will support WebGL. If your browser version is severely outdated, you might be seeing this error message because your browser is not equipped to handle WebGL.

Almost all the recent browser versions are equipped to handle Web GL, but there are some exceptions. For example, WebGL is not supported on Opera Mini regardless of what version you’re using.

A quick way to check if your browser version supports WebGL is to check this table (here). You can easily see which browser versions are equipped to handle WebGL.

Checking if WebGL is supported on your browser version

Since all of the popular browsers are currently supporting WebGL with the latest desktop versions, you will probably be able to resolve the issue by updating to the latest build available.

Update Google Chrome
Updating Google Chrome

If you’ve ensured that your current browser version is equipped to support WebGL and you’re still encountering the ‘WebGL is not supported‘ error, move down to the next method below.

Method 2: Enabling hardware acceleration on your browser

One possible reason why you might be encountering the ‘WebGL is not supported‘ error is that hardware acceleration is disabled in your web browser. The WebGL technology is dependent on hardware acceleration, so you’ll need to take the appropriate steps to ensure that hardware acceleration is enabled on your browser.

Since the steps of enabling hardware acceleration are different from browser to browser, we’ve created separate guides for all the most popular web browsers. Please follow the one applicable to the browser that you’re using:

Enabling hardware acceleration on Chrome

  1. Click on the action menu (three dot icon) in the top-right corner and then click on Settings.
  2. Inside the Settings menu, scroll down to the bottom of the list and click on Advanced to make the advanced settings options visible.
  3. Scroll down to the System tab and check the toggle associated with Use hardware acceleration when available.
  4. Click the Relaunch button to make the enforce the change.
Enabling hardware acceleration on Google Chrome

Enabling hardware acceleration on Mozilla Firefox

  1. Open Firefox and go to to the action button (top-right corner) and click on Options.
  2. Then, in the Options menu, scroll down to Performance and disable the checkbox associated with Use recommended performance settings.
  3. With the recommended performance settings disabled, enable the checkbox associated with Use hardware acceleration when available.
  4. Restart your browser to force the changes to take effect.

Enabling hardware acceleration on Opera

  1. Click the Opera icon (top-left corner) and choose Settings from the menu.
  2. Inside the Settings menu, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click the Advanced button to make the hidden settings options visible.
  3. Scroll down to the System tab and enable the toggle associated with Use hardware acceleration when available.
Enabling hardware acceleration on Opera

If you’re still encountering the error even after enabling hardware acceleration, move down to the next method below.

Method 3: Upgrading graphics drivers

Since WebGL is depended on GPU support, older graphics drivers might end up causing the ‘WebGL is not supported‘ error. If your system is equipped to support WebGL, you might be able to resolve the issue by just by making sure that you’re using the latest graphics drivers available.

If you have Windows 10, you can do this easily by using Device Manager to update your graphics drivers. Here’s how:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Then, type “devmgmt.msc” and press Enter to open Device Manager.
    Run Device Manager using Run Dialog Box
  2. Inside Device Manager, expand the drop-down menu associated with Display adapters. Then, right-click on your graphics card and choose Update driver.
    Update Graphics Driver by right-clicking it.

    Note: If you’re using a system that has both a dedicated & integrated GPU, it’s best to update both. Also, make sure that you’re using a stable Internet connection.

  3. From the next screen, click on Search automatically for updated driver software, then follow the on-screen prompts to search for the newest driver.
    Searching for the newest driver automatically
  4. Wait until the driver is fully downloaded, then follow through with the installation to set up the newer driver.
    Downloading the latest graphics driver
  5. Once the newer driver has been installed, restart your computer to complete the installation.
    Updating the dedicated Nvidia driver to the latest version

     

  6. Open your browser again and see if you are now able to view WebGL content.

If you have an older Windows version or Device Manager fails to identify a newer driver version, you’ll need to track down the latest version for your particular GPU model and install it manually.

Fortunately, every major GPU manufacturer has proprietary software that will automatically identify the appropriate driver and install it for you. Just use the software appropriate to your GPU manufacturer:

If you’re still encountering the same issue even after updating your GPU drivers, move down to the next method below.

Method 4: Installing a newer Windows version (if applicable)

Since GPU rendering has been removed in Windows XP by most browsers (due to security reasons), so you’ll likely need to install a newer Windows version if you wish to use WebGL.

Or, if you insist on using WebGL with Windows XP, you can do it by using an older Chromium version.  If this scenario is applicable to you, settle for a Chromium version older than build 291976.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Fix: WebGL is Not Supported

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