SWF Files; What is a SWF File and How do you Open it?

It’s always annoying when you try to open a file on your PC and you’re greeted with the error message: “Windows cannot find a suitable program to open this file”.

Anytime you come across that message, it means you’ll need some extra requirements on your PC to run the files.

In this case, an SWF file is the culprit, and it’s really getting you frustrated. Don’t worry, in this article, I’ll show you an effortless way to open SWF files on Mac, Windows, or any other advanced PC operating system.

Let’s get started.

What are SWF files?

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To get started, what does SWF really mean?

When you see SWF, it fully means Small Web Format, or Shockwave Flash File (we’re not sure which, but does it really matter?)

It is a media file format created by Macromedia but later acquired by Adobe in 2005. It was formerly restricted to playing on Adobe media playing software only.

Before the era of online videos, the commonest way to insert video, or other interactive multimedia content on a website is by using the SWF file. It holds vector-based animations, videos, and other interactive content in a way that makes it easy to be shared online.

SWF files were popularly used to bring online gaming experience onto the web before scripting languages chewed it up.

As other web media formats replaced SWF, Adobe removed the limitations on the SWF file, and it can now be played on a variety of platforms.

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Why can’t I play SWF on my PC?

As earlier stated, SWF files are files meant to be embedded in web content. Furthermore, Adobe has designated it End of Life, which means it won’t be supported anymore, or actively developed.

However, there are some workarounds that will make SWF files work on your PC. Without further ado, let’s see…

How to open SWF file

There are two different methods you can use to open SWF files on your PC. You can either open it from your browser (after following some simple steps) or download dedicated software to open it with one click.

Let’s take it chronologically.

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How to open SWF file in a browser

This is the preferred method of opening SWF files. It works universally, whether you want to know how to open SWF files on Mac, or on Windows 10. It involves using a web browser, and what advanced operating system isn’t equipped with a web browser?

Whatever web browser you use, as far as you have an SWF player extension installed, you can automatically play the SWF files by dragging them onto the browser window.

Most browsers now block Flash by default, due to its high vulnerability to viruses and other forms of malware. It is not recommended to enable flash on all browsers you use, to avoid the occurrence of malware.

However, you can just pick a particular browser and enable Flash, so you can open your SWF files. For this post, I’ll choose Internet Explorer.

Adobe Shockwave Player is a Chrome extension that enables you to play SWF files in your browser. Also, you can use Adobe Flash Player, but they’re both discontinued on many browsers.

However, you should find a working version on Internet Explorer. If you can’t find it on Adobe’s official site, do not download it, or you’re at the risk of downloading malware onto your computer.

If you don’t have a browser that supports the Flash Player extension, you can try the other fixes below.

How to open SWF files using third-party software

Browsers aside, there are computer tools and software that can allow you to open SWF files without having to go through a plethora of steps; just one-click open!

There are some Adobe-owned apps that still open SWF. Programs like Animate, Dreamweaver, After Effects, or Flash Builder can open SWF.

There are also some apps that are not Adobe-owned, but also open SWF files. These apps could only operate after 2008 when Adobe removed the limitations imposed on SWF. Examples of non-Adobe apps with the ability to open SWF files include SWF file player (Windows) which plays any SWF file for free.

GOM Player also plays SWF files and MPC-HC are all programs that can open SWF files on Windows, without requiring any browser settings.

If you’re trying to open SWF files on Mac, you can use some free SWF players like SWF & FLV Player. While most of these SWF players will open videos and audios without any hitch, many are quite poor at opening SWF games.

If you want to play SWF games, try using the SWF File Player, or Scaleform, which is part of Autodesk Gameware.

As a last alternative, you can try converting the SWF to a video or audio file format to be easily run without needing additional software. There are a lot of free video converters that will do this perfectly. Just run a search for “SWF converter”, and you have hundreds of genuine converters (and hundreds of non-genuine ones) to choose from.

If you don’t want it in video format (like you want to play an SWF game), you can convert it to an EXE file using Adobe Animate. This way, you can easily run the file on your Windows machine like a normal EXE file.

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Conclusion

Adobe’s Flash and SWF file formats were the best media for online multimedia. Fast forward to the second decade of the 21st century, these media file formats are already replaced by faster, more reliable, and more secure online media players.

However, if you got an SWF file, will you never get to know the contents simply because it’s deprecated?

I guess no.

In the above article, I outlined three (though I promised two) ways by which you can open the old Adobe file format from the comfort of your PC, without traveling back in time.

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