Digital Video Articles, Tutorials, Guides & Q & A

Video Basics, video formats

What is the SWF Video Format: How to Open it and Convert to MP4

SWF video format

If you’re new to digital video, you may not have heard about the SWF video format.

Still, there’ll be instances when you’ll need to deal with SWF files. So, it’s good to have a working knowledge of the SWF video format.

What is the SWF Video Format?

SWF used to stand for ShockWave Format when it was first introduced. This was because the format was created for the Shockwave Player.

It was later changed to Small Web Format when SWF became the chosen method to publish Flash multimedia content over the Internet.

SWF is pronounced as Swiff.

The format, initially developed by Macromedia, was later acquired by Adobe.

Web Multimedia Content

SWF’s primary use was to display animation and interactive content over the Internet.

If you were surfing the web in the early 2000s you would have noticed that SWF was used to deliver animation, video, and sound over the Internet. Browser-based games also employed the SWF format.

Occasionally the SWF format was also used to showcase digital artwork through the Internet.

SWF is created with ActionScript, a programming language meant for web animation.

Flash Movies

An SWF file is saved in the Adobe Flash Format.

As such, SWF files are called Flash movies. Even when they don’t contain a video.

Files that come with the .swf extension don’t only hold video and animation, they may also include photos and illustrations.

Before SVG became popular, SWF was used over the web when it came to scalable vector graphics.

The SWF format can not only be used to play back video clips. It can also be used for highly-interactive content like games.

SWF and the Web

An SWF file gets viewed over the web through a browser. For that to be possible, the file first needs to be embedded into an HTML page.

The HTML page and the SWF file have to be served on the same website hosting server.

SWF vs FLV: What’s the Difference?

Both SWF Flash movies and FLV (Flash Video) were developed by Adobe, primarily for use over the Internet.

However, they should not be confused with each other.

FLV files are associated with video streaming, just like Windows Media Video, QuickTime, and RealMedia files.

FLV is a video container format. It carries video-related files.

SWF, on the other hand, can contain video files not applicable to video.

You can use ActionScript to lend interactivity to SWF files. You can do that with an FLV file.

SWF uses lossless compression. FLV employs lossy compression.

SWF’s video capability isn’t as good as FLV video when it comes to delivering longer and high-quality videos.

Read more about the FLV format.

How to Create SWF Files

SWF files were created with Adobe Flash, After Effects, and Flash Builder among others. You may also use Adobe’s Flash creation tool, Animate.

There are also free options like Vectorian Giotto, Flash Banner Maker, and Flash Slideshow Maker.

How to Open an SWF File?

Have an SWF file and want to play it? You can use the following media player to open SWF files.

In the days of old, you can open an SWF file the Flash Player. This player was built into web browsers.

These days almost all the major web browsers have ended support for the Flash player.

These days if you try to open a web page that has SWF content, you’ll get the following message.

Also, if you download an SWF file from the Internet, you may get the following warning message.

There may be some third-party sites offering Flash player downloads. However, Adobe advises you not to download and install it owing to security issues.

However, there are many standalone media players that can do the job.

Among the free SWF players, you can use are SWF Player, Swiff Player and KMPlayer.

Open an SWF File with an Online SWF Player

Have trouble opening an SWF file with any of the above players. If so, you may want to open it with an online SWF player.

An online player that works is the flash player at fullstacks.com. This player can play your SWF files through its Flash emulator.

The easiest way to do this is to upload your SWF file from your hard drive. You may also import an SWF file from your Google Drive account.

On visiting the website, choose the Flash Emulator option if it’s not selected by default. Then upload your SWF file.

As soon as the file is loaded, it starts playing.

There are no player controls though. You may stop playing the file. If you want to play it again, just hit refresh and the video plays from the start.

So, once you start playing your SWF file, you can’t pause it and continue watching later.

Use this online player as the last resort if you can’t play your SWF files through other means.

How to Convert SWF to MP4

Say you have some SWF files and find it a challenge to open them.

To view them, you may want to convert to MP4 so that you’ll have more playback options.

You may want to use a free online video converter service like Convertio. If your SWF file size is less than 100MB, then you don’t need to sign up for an account.

Here’s an example of an SWF file that has been converted to MP4.

SWF file converted to MP4.

Also, check out other online converters that will convert SWF to MP4.

Free Video Workshop