How To: Play Adobe Flash SWF Files Without a Web Browser

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A file with the extension.SWF (pronounced “Swiff”) is a Shockwave Flash video file created by an Adobe program that can record text and interactive graphics. These animation files are often used for online games played in a web browser.

Some Adobe products can create SWF files. However, various software other than Adobe can also create Shockwave Flash Movie files, such as MTASC, Ming and SWFTools.

The SWF file format is generally intended for online use. These files are often used for online games played in a web browser and, to this end, Adobe provides plug-ins such as Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Integrated Runtime to read SWF files in desktop operating system web browsers. These include Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux on x86 and ARM architecture (Google Chrome OS only). Before 2015, it was easy to read a local SWF file on your computer; all you had to do was drag and drop it into a browser window to read it.

But despite its popularity and use, Flash 1000 Plus has weaknesses, so Adobe decided to remove Flash at the end of 2020, and all major browser manufacturers have announced that they will end Flash support for browsers in 2020.

If you try to play the SWF file on your desktop PC, it’s not that simple. Most web browsers prohibit dragging and dropping such files into their surface for playback; those who now allow it (2019) will no longer allow it once the Flash media has expired.

An example: If you drag a SWF file to the Chrome interface, you will receive a download prompt and the Flash file will not be played.

So if you have Flash files on your system, you can continue to use these files even after Flash is released, so it is necessary to look elsewhere for a reliable option that will work after 2020.

Playing Adobe Flash SWF files outside your web browser

Use the Hidden Standalone Adobe Flash Player.

Adobe offers the hidden download of Flash Player for Windows, Mac and Linux. You can open a SWF file outside your browser.

Adobe hides the stand-alone Flash Player very well. The Adobe website actually says “Flash Player Content Debugger”.

  1. To obtain it, visit the Debug Downloads page on the Adobe Flash Player website. On Windows, Mac or Linux, click on the “Download Flash Player Project Content Debugger” link, depending on the operating system you are using.
  2. On Windows, you have an EXE file that does not require installation. Just double-click on it to execute it.
  3. You will get a simple Adobe Flash Player window. To open a SWF file, drag it into the window or click File > Open. You can navigate to a SWF file on your local system or enter a path to a SWF file on the web.
  4. Resize the window to zoom in if the Flash object appears too small. You can now view and interact with the SWF file as usual.
  5. You can right-click on the Flash object or use the menu bar to control standard options such as zoom settings, image quality and enabling and disabling full-screen mode.

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Using the SWF file player

The SWF file player is available on the project page. The program is free and requires the.NET Framework and the Shockwave Flash object.

Simply install the application on your Windows system to get started. The program will display an empty interface at startup and you must use File > Open to load SWF files. Compressed and uncompressed SWF files are supported.

The SWF file player analyzes the file header and fills in the information on the screen. Press the Play button to start playback. If it is a game, you can start playing, and if it is an application, you can use it immediately.

Note that there may be problems when a SWF file needs to download content from the Internet, as this depends on server availability. This should work if the server is still active. Use F11 to switch to full screen mode.

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