How To Download Embedded Flash Files Using Your Browser

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download-flash-iconMaybe, history will record Steve Jobs and his famous memo as the first nail in the Flash coffin. From browser crashes to the cool Flash animations we grew up with, the story of Flash has always led to animated debates. But thanks to Flash, the web is a far more interactive place today. HTML5 maybe the new kid on the block and while it is growing up, Flash still holds sway when one thinks of rich animations and advanced interactive games. Remember, one of the most popular sites today – Facebook – is still having fun with Flash games.

It is not even the last giant standing as many online games still run on Flash. Downloading them and keeping them offline has its plusses. You can watch them offline when you choose to. You can convert them to a format of your choice. You can use them in a PowerPoint presentation. Or even carry them around on your smartphone.

Flash animation files are embedded as SWF (Small Web Format) files in webpages. With a bit of elbow grease, it is possible to download these files without the overhead of browser extensions. Here’s how you can do it on Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Download Flash Files Using Chrome

To download SWF files in Chrome without the express help of any extensions, you have to dive into some of Chrome’s tools that are favored by developers. Don’t worry, the steps are simple enough.

  • Open the Flash video on a Chrome tab and allow it to load completely. Right-click on an empty area and select Inspect Element from the context menu.

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  • The Developer Tools opens up in a separate frame at the bottom of the browser screen.

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  • Instead of searching for the specific SWF file in the jumble of code, click on the magnifying glass icon which says – Select an element in the page to inspect it. Using the selection also helps if there are more than one video on the page.
  • Click on the Flash video which gets highlighted in blue. Correspondingly, the object path is also selected in the code.

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  • Select the URL and paste it in the address bar of Chrome, and then open it again.
  • Open the dropdown Chrome menu (Customize and control Google Chrome) from the top-right and click on Save page as. Save the flash video to your computer disk.

Download Flash Files Using Firefox

Launch Firefox and load to the page which contains the embedded SWF Flash file that you want to download. Let the SWF file stream through once completely.

  • On any empty part of the page, right-click and select the Page Info context menu option. Or alternatively, go to Tools – Page Info.

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  • The Page Info box has five tabs. Select the Media tab. As long as the page has any media in it, the Media tab lists all image elements like icons, style sheets and Flash files on the particular webpage.

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  • There’s bit of work involved as you have to sift through the cached elements to locate the SWF file. You can make it quicker by sorting the elements by type and narrowing down to the one that says Embed. Highlight the file and click Save as to save the file on your hard drive.

Download Flash files Using Internet Explorer

Earlier versions of Internet Explorer made it easy to go into the Temporary Internet Files and copy the cached SWF files. You could access the Temporary Files from the browser’s Internet Options. Since Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 7 (as far as I can recall), you have to take a more roundabout route. Here are the steps which will allow you to grad SWF files if you are using Internet Explorer.

  • Log into your machine with your Administrator account.
  • Open IE and load the video of your choice completely.
  • You have to go to the Folder Options from the Control Panel or Explorer to tweak a few visibility settings i.e. enable “Show hidden files and folders”, uncheck “Hide protected Operating System Files” and also uncheck “Hide Extensions for Known Filetypes”.

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  • Now, navigate to Username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\
  • Add “Low\Content.IE5″ to the location in the address bar.
  • There will be some folders with random alphanumeric names.

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  • Open these folders search through them manually for the SWF file. For an easier search, you can click on the “Type” column header and arrange all similar files together.

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  • Copy the SWF file to a location of your choice.

All Done!

The downloaded Flash files can be viewed in players like Media Player Classic and the excellent Daum PotPlayer among others. Alternatively, you can simply drag and drop it into your browser. The next time you come across a cool animated interactive, think about downloading it and keeping it offline. You now have the methods now, or you probably knew them and this information is old hat.

Either way, tell us if you prefer browser extensions for the job or would you go back to the basics as explained here. What do you usually look to download?

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37 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

The Computer Lady

Thanks so much for the information. I have been trying to figure this out for a while? What about embedded videos?

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shaneecy

“Flash animation files are embedded as SWF (Small Web Format) files in webpages.”
–i believe that SWF means “Shockwave Flash” file, not small web format file.

good article, though i still prefer to use file2hd.com (thx to whoever wrote the offline flash game tut) because its less complicated :)

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Hal

The most simple way to do this is use the Firefox extension Downloadhelper. Easily download just about any media without opening backend windows.

Andrew J

I also use the Downloadhelper extension for Firefox. It really is the simplest way to capture flash video – what could be easier than clicking the extension’s browser icon and saving the flash file?

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Mickey

Shaneecy, SWF was originally called Shockwave Flash but Macromedia changed it to Small Web Format

Nice article, and I am sure this will come in handy for some people

Saikat

Yes, Mickey…that’s true. But what’s surprising is that this fact is so difficult to establish. In fact, it’s not even mentioned in the SWF specification doc which is 278 pages long!!!

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Gringo

Yeah ! But doesn’t work for some sites, even with software like Orbit that are almost perfect for retrieving content from youtube, or dailymotion.

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fractal

One problem that is overlooked here is the fact that Flash files have the ability to load content dynamically. For instance, the swf that you save locally may need to load images, text, code or even other swf’s in order to render correctly.

If a Flash developer doesn’t want you getting at the Library or ActionScript, you’re likely going to be left with an empty container that does nothing at all. This is usually the case with games and more complex animations or interactive movies.

cristiano007

You’re right, I’ve seen this in many photo galleries sites, very bad. Anybody has a walkaround for this problem?

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Adam Hill

Try Flashgot plugin for Firefox

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Abhijeet Pathak

From “Shockwave Flash” to “Small Web Format” becaure Macromedia acquired it.. Then I guess it should be now called ASWF (Adobe Small Web Format) as Flash is their product now.. :-P

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Yanguang

I use my own little method to download embedded flash media, using Adblock Plus (as weird as it sounds)

yanguang.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/how-to-use-adblock-to-download-media-files/

striipes

Thanks for the tip of using adblock
Works perfect for what I needed to download

Reply

aerobroken

Sweat find and share! I have been looking for this hack..

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Brave Littlle Meme

Safari can do this without any third-party add-on. Just load the window containing the flash file and look under the Activity Window (Manu > Window > Activity) for whatever has a rapidly growing byte count. Double-click that entry and the file will be saved in your download folder.

undahpresha

Thank you for this tip! Never had a clue that Safari was capable of this!

Reply

Sid

Doing this in Chrome is as easy too.

1. Ctrl+U [Page Source].
2. Ctrl+F [Find]
3. Type “swf”
3. Keep hitting F3 till you come to the swf file you need.
4. Chrome will present it to you as a clickable hyperlink – so all you have to do is to right-click and save.

PS: I do this ALL the time :)

Reply

ChromeISCool

You can find it in Google Chrome by typing “about:cache” into the address bar. It helps if you clear the cache out first.

Reply

www.coredownloadz.co.cc

yea….. Downloading flash files using Google chrome is the most simplest.

Thanks for this article

Reply

cristiano007

AdBlock Plus is the way to go for dynamically loaded media! Thanks!

Bunda

Well, Adblock is not for that certainly – but is there any sense in installing one more Firefox-addon just for downloading a few files? For me not.
If I want to make an offline collection of hundreds of flash games – I use an addon.

So if I stumble into a good flash game or video once in 1-2 months – I use a simple way but without installing another addon.

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monte cabet

The firefox addon downthemall works here too. Look for it in the “Pictures and Embedded” tab…

Reply

Diego Ripley

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Saikat

Thanks Sid, actually I tried this before I wrote the article. but the files wouldn’t play. While it would when downloaded thru the remaining browsers. Probably a glitch, I couldn’t figure out at that time. There are of course a few programs that help out Chrome with this job just like the many add-ons for FF.

Reply

vas

Hi, all frnds….

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vas

hi, all frnds….

I want to download one photo gallery from one webpage but it cant download. pls anyone help me… thanks..

Nacho

To download a photogallery, you can try “downThemAll” extension for Firefox.

Reply

vas

hi, Nacho
thanks for your reply
i want to give you url for that photo gallery but here it doesn’t allow me so how can i give to you.
and i use that downThemAll but still i can’t download it.

many thanks.

Reply

ggstarling

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I recommend this for all to elevate your mood.
I helped))
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Reply

Kurt

For anyone who isn’t helped by the above: I found a flash file that, for whatever reason, was not downloaded into the cache, but into the Documents and Settings\Default\Local Settings\Temp directory as a .tmp file. If I tried to copy it, even when the movie was stopped, I’d get a “file in use” error. If I closed the window containing the movie, the .tmp file disappeared. If I used the source code window to find the file, there was none. I solved the problem by using freeware program ShadowCopy, which can copy files that are still open. Info for anyone else who has this problem.

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Saikat

Thanks for the info. I guess this is the link to the freeware.

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hannah

safari is just option+command+a
already knew how to do this, though. I was thinking maybe there was another option..

Reply

flash files

great information on flash files. thanks

Reply

dOPEpHIZH

Is there a easy way to download .SWF files that are “hidden” behind a preloader?

Reply

satya

thanx a lot

Reply

Utku Demir

Hi.

Another way to download with Chrome is typing “about:cache” in adress bar. Right clicking and clicking “Download” works. Like Firefox.

And sorry for my bad English :).

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