How to open a .SWF file

How to open a .SWF file

This tutorial explains what .SWF file is and different ways to open it on Mac, using .swf File Player and in Chrome. You will also learn how to edit and convert SWF files:

Sometimes, while browsing the system, you may have come across files with the .swf extension. Also, you may have tried to open it but failed. It is because you need to enable Adobe Flash in your browser or you will need specific software to open such files. Enabling Flash usually solves the purpose, but it can be risky.

To open a SWF file, you can use VLC Player or Adobe’s hidden Flash player that developers often use. You can also convert and edit them. But first, we will tell you how to open a SWF file. But first let’s understand what it is?

What is .SWF File?

SWF is pronounced as Swiff, a file extension means, it is a Shockwave Flash Movie file that was created by an Adobe program. These are animation files that usually contain interactive text and graphics and are used for online games.

SWF file icon

Some of the Adobe products also create SWF files. But sometimes even a handful of non-Adobe programs produce such files. It is also called Small Web Format because it can include video, audio and animation all compressed for easy sharing online. Windows does not automatically play the SWF file because Flash is being deleted.

Various Ways To Open The .SWF File

Open SWF file in Windows Explorer

Viewing a SWF file in any browser requires Flash, which can be problematic because not only is Flash the sweet spot for virus and hacker attacks, it is also outdated. And that’s why most browsers block it automatically.

If you are looking to run the SWF file in Internet Explorer, you will need to enable Flash first.

Enable Flash in IE:

1. Start IE

2. Go to the gear. You find it in the upper right corner.

3. Select Manage add-ons from the drop-down menu.

Enable Flash in IE

4. Click Toolbars and Extensions on the next page.

Click Toolbars and Extensions

5. Scroll down to the Microsoft Windows Third Party Application Component option.

6. Select Shockwave Flash Object.

Shockwave Flash Object

7. Click the enable button in status.

8. Awards Close.

Run the SWF file

  • Open Explorer again and right-click on the file.
  • Click the Open With option.
  • You will be asked how you want to open this file and you will be asked to log into the App Store.
  • Click on more apps.
  • Select Internet Explorer and click OK.

You will be able to see the contents of the file. If you see the warning that it uses ActiveX, click Allow to bypass it.

How to open SWF files on Mac

If you are a Mac user, you may have come across SWF files. If you want to open and play any SWF file on Mac, here are some tools you can use.

VLC player

VLC player

  • Download VLC for Mac from its official site.
  • Open VLC Player.
  • Drag and drop the file into VLC.

You will be able to play the file on your Mac. To view a media file, VLC is a good option. But his capabilities extend beyond, he can do so much more.

Official site: VLC Player

Network navigation program

You can simply install the Adobe Flash plug-in in your browser to open the file in a browser, be it Opera, Chrome or Firefox. But it carries a risk. So, never install the plug-in in Safari. Unlike before, most browsers don’t come with a pre-installed Flash Player. But older versions of browsers still come with Flash Player as an option, bundled or integrated.

In older versions of Chrome, you can turn off Flash whenever you don’t need it. So, if you are using Chrome, you need to enable the plugin to run. For security reasons, you must uninstall Flash from your Mac and use it only in sandbox mode within a browser such as Chrome.

Enable Flash in Chrome

  • In the Chrome address bar, type chrome: // settings / content and hit enter.
  • Scroll down to the Flash card.

Enable Flash in Chrome

  • Turn off the Block sites from running Flash option and you will see the Ask First feature.

Now, whenever there is a website or file that needs Flash, you will be asked if you want to activate the plug-in for that particular site.

Opening SWF files on Android

When you are looking to open or play a SWF file on your Android device, SWF Player-Flash File Viewer can come in handy. You can download the app here .

SWF Player - Flash file viewer

How to open SWF files with SWF Player

Follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Install the SWF player on your device.
  • Open the app and click on local files.
  • Find the file you want to open and select it.
  • Tap it to play it.
  • During playback, click the Back button to open its on-screen controls.

Opening SWF files outside of browsers

As we know, browsers are withdrawing support for Adobe Flash. So, the question that arises here is how will you open these files? Well, Adobe has a hidden flash player that you can download for Windows, Mac and Linux. This hidden flash player is known as the Flash Player content debugger.

To download it, go to the Debug Downloads page on the Adobe website.

Opening SWF files outside of browsers

On that page, go to the Download the Flash Player Projector Content Debugger link.

Flash Player Projector

If you are downloading on Windows, all you have to do is run the .exe file with a double click. And you will get a simple Flash Player window. Then, drag and drop the file into the window or you can open it via the file option.

You can also maximize the window if the Flash object is too small to be seen clearly. Right-click on the flash object to check the standard options or you can also use the menu bar. And you can continue to use it even after browsers have completely retired Flash. It is a very compatible tool for anyone who needs to work with Flash.

Converting a SWF file

If you want to convert it to other formats like AVI, MOV, HTML5, MP4 or MP3, in some cases, you can use one of the free video file converters. SWF converters can help you convert your SWF file to a PNG or GIF file. And some apps like Adobe Animate they can convert it to an EXE file making it easy to run without Flash Player.

You can use tools such as After Effects , Freemake Video Converter , FileZigZag , or SWF Tools

Convert SWF to MP4 or MOV with After Effects:

  • Download and install After Effects from here .
  • Open the app and import the file. To import the file go to the File menu, select import, go to import file and choose the SWF file you want to open.
  • Add the file to the render queue by dragging it or go to comps and add to the render queue.
  • Set the settings in the output module in the render queue and set the output where you want the file to go.

Editing SWF files

FLA files or Adobe Animate Animation files compile SWF files which is why it is not easy to edit them. Instead, you can edit the FLA file itself. These are the binary files that contain the source files for the entire Flash application. These FLA files are compiled with a Flash authoring program to create SWF files.

If you are a Mac user, you can use Flash Decompiler Trillix to convert them to FLA files for editing and converting various components of the SWF file without using Adobe Flash. You can download the Flash decompiler here .

Frequently Asked Questions About SWF Files

Q # 1) How can I open the SWF file in Chrome?

Answer: you can open the file in Chrome by dragging it into the browser or by right-clicking on the SWF file, go to the Open with option and select Chrome.

Q # 2) Can I play SWF files in VLC?

Answer: VLC supports SWF files usually but not always. You can convert the file to audio or video format and then play it in VLC.

Q # 3) Is it safe to open SWF files?

Answer: Flash, in particular, is very vulnerable, but SWF poses no threat to your server as it is downloaded to clients and executed there. Also, to make sure it’s safe, you can run a malware scan, although it won’t be much.

Q # 4) Can I convert SWF to MP4 using VLC Player?

Answer: Yup. To convert SWF to MP4 using VLC, follow these steps:

  • Download and install the VLC player.
  • Launch VLC and click on the Media icon.
  • Select the Convert / Save option.
  • Add the SWF file you want to convert on the right side of the window and select the Convert / Save option again.
  • In Profile, select the output format as MP4, save it in the temporary folder and name the file.
  • Click start.


Usually, you should leave a SWF file alone. But if you absolutely must open it, there are various options you can use. You can open it in IE and other web browsers or use the VLC player to open and run the file. When opening it with browsers, be sure to enable Flash in your browser.

But don’t forget that Flash support will no longer be available in any new browser version and that Flash is no longer safe to use because it is susceptible to viruses and hacks. So when you don’t use it, you need to disable or uninstall it.

There are also ways to open a SWF file without Flash. You can use tools like SWF players or use Adobe’s hidden Flash Player. You can also convert these files to open them.

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