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Monday, June 1, 2009

How to Download Embedded Flash Files using your Browser

By Saikat Basu

thumbnail1Today, Flash is everywhere. Animations, music, games, advertisements or even streaming presentations. Speaking of games, here’s a list of site with the best flash games.

The use of Flash plug-ins in browsers is now almost obligatory. Yes, it’s easy to view and enjoy the rich media content delivered by interactive Flash embedded pages. But what if I want to download some of these files as keepsakes? The greatest benefit – I can watch them offline in my own jolly time. Convert them to a format of my choice. Or embed them again in a PowerPoint presentation. Or even transfer them to my mobile phone.

Flash animation files are embedded as SWF (Small Web Format) files in webpages. Rather than depending on any software or a third-party website, downloading Flash content is dead simple. The only tool required is a browser and a bit of patience to do the rummaging around.

Just one note: As we will be heading into the internet cache folders of the respective browsers, it pays to clear it of all old files before navigating to the desired page. It makes the Flash file search a lot easier.

So, here’s how to do it in three of our popular browsers.

Download SWF files using Firefox

  1. Fire up Firefox and browse to the page which contains the embedded SWF Flash file that you are eyeing to download. Let the SWF file stream through once completely.
  2. On any empty part of the page, right-click and select the Page Info context menu option. Or alternatively, go to Tools – Page Info.


  3. Select the Media tab. The Media tab lists all image formats, icons, style sheets and flash files that were rendered by the webpage.


  4. Look amongst the items to find the particular file with the SWF extension. The type column will show up with an Embed filetype. Highlight the file and click Save as to save the file on your hard drive.

Download SWF files using Internet Explorer

In IE8, we have to head to the Temporary Internet Files folder which stores all rendered files during a browsing session. (It can be directly accessed from here in Windows XP - C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files.)

  1. Go to the IE Menu bar. Click on Tools – Internet Options.
  2. On the General tab, click on Settings under Browsing History.
  3. The Temporary Internet Files and Browsing History box opens up.


  4. Click on View Files. You will get all the rendered webpage elements in this folder.
  5. To rummage about effectively amidst the mass of files, choose View – Arrange by Type from the menu. Also go to Tools – Folder Options, and uncheck the Hide extensions for known file types option.
  6. Seek out your SWF files, copy and then paste it to your preferred location.


Download SWF files using Opera

In Opera, downloaded SWF files can be accessed in two simple ways –

  • Type opera:cache in the address bar.
  • Go to Tools – Advanced – Cache from the toolbar.


Either way, a huge list of downloaded page elements opens up with their URLs. Search for a file with the .swf extension. Alternatively, you could search (Ctrl+F ) and hunt it down, with swf as the search query.

Right-click on the particular file and choose either Saved Linked Content As or Save to Download Folder to save the SWF file on the hard disk.


After downloading the SWF file, one can use the Adobe Flash Player to view the Flash file or a supported media player like Media Player Classic. Or, an easier way would be to just open it in a browser by right-clicking it and selecting the browser of choice.

These are the ways we can use to single out the Flash files from a webpage. In my experience, I personally have been more comfortable with Firefox than the other two. I am still searching a way perform this in Chrome but it is proving impossible without third-party support. Numerous third-party tools can do the same job better by converting it to a format of your choice. But it always pays to know that you can fall back on a browser alone.

Aibek had the same idea about offline Flash files when he covered How To Download and Play Flash Games Offline in a previous post. That post extends the possibilities of the fun we can have with Flash files.

What about you? Do you let it play on the webpage or do you dig under and take a Flash file offline?