Download Flash Video from Any Website

flv-logoDo you want to download a flash video? Are you having trouble finding a good program or plugin to rip flash videos? Do you want to know how to download flash video from any website? You’ve come to the right place.

Update: Be sure to check out my new article on how to download video from YouTube with Google Chrome.

There are lots of programs and browser plugins that help you to download flash videos from websites. The problem is that they all seem to only allow you to do it from select sites. I found a relatively simple way to do it with Firefox and Firebug.

Firebug is a great Firefox plugin for website development and debugging. I don’t know how I would ever get along without it. Don’t bother looking for the “flash video download” feature in Firebug, because it does not exist. You’ll have to do a little bit of manual work to do it, but using Firebug to download flash video from any website is relatively easy.

If you don’t have Firefox, download it. Then download Firebug. Next, open up Firefox and browse to the page with the flash video you want to download. Click on the little Firebug icon in the browser status bar at the bottom of the Firefox window.

Firebug Icon in Status Bar

Click on the Net tab in Firebug and then select Enabled.

Enable Net Tab in Firebug

If the video fully loaded into the page when you last opened it, it is likely the entire movie is in your browser’s cache.  That means that when we monitor the net connection, we won’t see it load the video.  You will need to go and clear you’re browser’s cache.  If you’re using Firefox 3.5 on Windows, click Tools > Clear Recent History.  Click the Details button and make sure the Cache checkbox is selected.  Then press Clear Now.

Cache Clearing Options

Now you’re ready to find the location of the flash file.  Click the refresh button in Firefox and allow the page to reload.  The Firebug Net panel will display all of the HTTP requests being made along with statistics for each request as the page loads.  There are a few things you can look for to identify the video file:

  • .FLV file extension on the file being loaded
  • Very large file size
  • Very long gray bar on the load time

Here is an example of what the Net panel looks like for a video page on The Onion:

Ways to Find the FLV File

Once you’ve identified which one of the requests is for the video file, right-click on it and then left click on Open in New Tab.

Saving the Flash Video

There’s another nifty trick you can you can use if the video has not fully loaded in the player. First, click the clear button in the Firebug panel to remove all the requests. Then click on the player video navigation bar (if there is one) to fast forward to somewhere else within the video.

This will generate a new request for the video file, which in turn adds just a single line for the video file in the Firebug panel. This makes it very easy to find the video file. You’ll then want to click back at the start of the video file, to make sure you get the link to download the entire file. Select the last file request, otherwise, you will end up downloading it from the point to which you fast forwarded.

When the new tab opens, Firefox will ask you what to do with it. Just save the file somewhere where you will remember you put it.  That’s all there is to downloading flash video with Firefox and Firebug!

Of course this begs the question, “What do I do with the movie now that I’ve downloaded it?” Well, if you want to watch it, you’ll need a player that can read it. I suggest you download the VLC player. VLC is a great open-source multi-platform video player (available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux).

I really like it because it includes all the codecs you will probably ever need for playing videos, so there’s no having to constantly add codecs to it all the time. You can even use it to convert videos for your iPod, although I tried this some time ago with limited success (it may work better with the latest version).

About GeekLad

Geeklad is a technology enthusiast and programming hobbyist. Occasionally he will put together useful little bits of code (be it JavaScript or PHP) and share them with the world. He also enjoys creating and sharing howtos, describing how to do the things people want to do with their computers.
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  • angelia110

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  • Holly Clayburn

    Thank you so much! This worked seamlessly for me. Perfectly presented and well written.

  • Anne

    this does not seem to work for MilleDrive. any suggestions?

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    There are a few clever sites where it doesn't work, MillieDrive being one of
    them. Hulu is another. I haven't been able to figure out a way to get the
    videos from such sites, but rest assured if I do, I'll post about it here.

  • Ray

    works great, thank you very much

  • Pingback: Ripping video « New Media and Composition Studies

  • micah1104

    Going to have to give it a try!

  • Pingback: Armada Media Blogo » Blog Archive » Ultimate Swing Trader – Gain Without Charge Analytical Web Devices To Pathway Your Success

  • Ad

    hi there! I installed and tried to use the software but its not detecting the video!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/glastonbury/2010/artists/r

    thats the link where the video is. I would appreciate any help whatsoever!
    I tried everything you said in your post. but nothing works!

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    When I try to play the video, it says “Not available in your area”.
    Unfortunately, without it actually playing the video, you won't see the
    resource load in the resource list.

  • Sofia Case

    Firefox doesnt ask me to save when I open the new tab… is there something I need to change for that to happen?

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    No, I don't think so. If you have the right URL, it should prompt you to
    save the file.

  • Khopesh

    What do you mean by “The right URL?
    I open it in a new tab and it instantly starts playing, no prompt or anything, it just makes a second tab with the video playing

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    Can you do file save as…?

  • Mitur Binesderti

    A lot of sites don't work now using this method. A lot of sites are using some kind of protection but I was able to still see the download in Google Chrome's cache. The problem is when the video is fully downloaded it disappears from there so I had to keep copying the temp file and I lost the last minute or so. There has GOT to be a better way.

  • Steve

    worked for me (with MOZILLA 3.6.12), well written instructions (the menu images etc. made easy to follow)

    cheers

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Jewell/100001743825744 James Jewell

    That's awesome. I've been looking forever to find out how to do this. Excellent information. Thanks!

  • Quickinfo

    Hi I am recently installed firebug 1.6.0 for mozilla firefox 3.6.13. I am not able to download the video. when click on the new tab it is playing the video but it is not asking for save the file. what should i do. please help me

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    Did you try File > Save As… in the browser menu, when you are on the new

    tab? That may be worth a shot.

  • Rijumahna

    Thats because Firefox has all the plugins required to play the video. Just copy the url and open in IE. it will not support the .flv video and ask you to save it.. :) Enjoy..

  • DAVID UZUMAKI

    does this really work

  • http://geekiatrics.blogspot.com/ Nikhil

    You rock! I'm using the firefox+firebug with WMRecorder to download the videos that I tried to get on my PC directly for one hour

  • Users99

    I use Google Chrome download flash video

  • Users99

    I use Google Chrome download flash video

  • http://matt.frear.myopenid.com/ Matt F

    Yeah I’m also trying to download something from the bbc.co.uk website. I can see the content (cos I’m here in the UK) but unfortunately the request for the video isn’t showing up in the net panel in Firebug.

    Here’s a link (which you probably won’t be able to see if you’re outside the UK).
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/bigweekend/2011/artists/chaseandstatus/#p00gykzp

    -Matt

  • cece

    Hi there.
    First off i just wanna say thanks for posting this, but for a computer illiterate
    person like myself I’m kinda having a hard time downloading the link that I
    want. Actually I am kinda confused as to how the downloading works. There like
    three different colors, purple, green and gray. Why is that? Which colour I am
    I supposed to follow? Some of the links end up splitting the colours, for ex
    green and gray.

    Also when i
    clicked on open new tab i got a blank screen. I’m assuming that shouldn’t
    happen. Please help me out. Thanks.

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    It is a bit tricky. I think in the latest version of Firebug, you can help
    narrow down the list by clicking the Flash button in Firebug to get only
    flash items. As the video downloads, you’ll see it as a gray bar. Because
    the video takes the longest, it should have the longest bar. In the latest
    version of Firebug, you can right-click on the url and select Open in New
    Tab. Then it will prompt you for the save location. It helps to cut out a
    few steps. The new tab will indeed be blank.

  • Pingback: Downloading a video from any website « Shiftkey Software's Blog

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    It’s been some time since I’ve tried it, so you’re right, it may be that newer versions work differently. Basically, you want to look for a very large file that takes longer to download than everything else. You could try sorting by size or download time, and the movie file should be one of the longest/largest files. I’ll probably put up a post on how to do this with Google Chrome as well.

  • Anonymous

    I attempted downloading a video from mtv.com, but firebug didn’t detect the main video. It detected the advertisement before it though.

    What do you think I’m doing wrong.

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    Some websites do not work 100%, as sometimes they throw in some tricks to prevent you from being able to identify the video file.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lucy-Millan/100002599934027 Lucy Millan

    there is a great tool for flash to video converting i usually use http://www.macvide.com/Macvide_FlashVideo_Converter/, it’s simple and nice!)

  • http://twitter.com/kyle_clegg Kyle Clegg

    ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! for what I needed.  thanks man!

  • Progu1ca

    waoo.. it’s so easy!! thanks to the author.

  • http://theadministrator.myid.net/ Johan

    Seems they use the rsync:// protocol instead of http://, so you can’t catch them using those addons that will only catch http:// and https:// traffic.
    I’ve tried to download a video from LiveStream.com with StreamTransport (no luck so far, it only catches the first bytes). Might work for sites such as Hulu. http://streamtransport.com

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    Yes, I’ve been working on a new blog post that includes a solution that works with Hulu and other RTSP websites. Stay tuned…

  • Shirisha_bukstech

    Works perfectly….thank you sooo much!!!!

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    The .swf file is not the movie, it is the player. The movie file will be a much larger file than the .swf.

  • http://www.facebook.com/basudev1989 Basudev Swain

    oriyaa.blogspot.com

  • Albert

    Man you are a lifesaver, I already had the firebug plugin installed for development purposes and didn’t think to use it for that purpose :)
    Thx!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/heiheidezhu goo le

    I always use video sniffer of avant browser
    download video .unbelievable, I can download video in firefox, thank you for sharing!

     

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DHPQAB3SGXBVPDMF3F562YAQQI DRD

    Thanks…. very very helpful

  • Enzelicious

    Hi Guys,
    I have tried everything to rip a flash video from a website but all I manage to rip is the ad at the beginning of the flash video. I have used firebug and other applications but none seem to pick up the media content other than the ad!!! Can you please help???
    The flash video I am trying to rip is here…
    http://au.news.yahoo.com/video/national/watch/29853874

    You will see an ad when you first load the page followed by the actual news story/flash video that I would like to rip.
    Please help.
    Thank you
    Enzo

  • Bob Marly

    Thank you for the Post! I just followed all your instructions. Everything went as planned until I got to the point where I Right Clicked the video in the list and selected “Open in New Tab”. The New Tab opened, but didn’t display the video. Instead it displayed the message “403 – Forbidden” in the browser window. I glanced at the New Tab’s address against the address in FireBug’s window, and although it was a long one and I may have missed something, it appears to be the same one. This is a site where I have to log in, and I looked to make sure I was logged in and I was. I tried to open the tab several times more, but this produced the same results.

    Have you run into this and is there an alternate way to download this video? Thanks for your help and time. Take care!

  • Bob Marly

    Thanks for your article. I followed the instructions and it didn’t work. I did, however, find the following video on downloading videos using Firefox Extension “Video DownloadHelper” and it worked great:

    How to download flash videos from any sitehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR5MFNJMPx8

  • hausiusi

    Thank you, very helpful and interesting. After your advice I did it with opera dragonfly. Thank you so much.

  • Jeremy

    This worked like a boss for me. Firefox 15.0.1 and Firebug 1.7.3. Followed the directions exactly as written. After opening in new tab, was given the option to open or save (based on my Firefox preferences.) Thank you very much for this!

  • Mightee Maus

    Not if anyone is monitoring this thread, but I tried downloading Flash video from Access Hollywood page and got no where with the Firefox/Firebug combination. Maybe someone can offer a solution…if there is one! Thanks, here’s the webpage:
    http://ph.omg.yahoo.com/video/tom-hiddleston-proud-avengers-success-163000714.html

  • Charan Chakravarthi

    Hi Guys,

    I tried ripping a flash from the wedsite.com website, the one I created some time before. Now when I use the firebug, I cannot see any flv, files coming up. All I see is the first swf that comes up before I login. After I login, the page has a popup that asks for a extension, but my work is behind that popup and for some reason is not captured on firebug.

    Any thoughts ?

    –CC