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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).

52 thoughts on “Download Flash Video from Any Website”

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    1. 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.

      1. 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 with StreamTransport (no luck so far, it only catches the first bytes). Might work for sites such as Hulu.

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    1. 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.

      1. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

    1. 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..

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

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  8. 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.

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

    What do you think I’m doing wrong.

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  11. 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 🙂

  12. 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…

    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

  13. 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!

  14. 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 site

  15. 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!

  16. Charan Chakravarthi

    Hi Guys,

    I tried ripping a flash from the 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 ?


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