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My broadband speed is sometimes lacking, and therefore it can be difficult to view Flash streams of programmes.

So my idea is to start a Flash stream, let it run to completion no matter how long it takes, and then view the temporary .swf file.

I've discovered the location of my Google Chrome temporary files. However, there is no file type associated with these files.

Therefore, I'm wondering if the idea above will work, and how can I retrieve only .swf files?

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1. Are you using Windows? 2. If so, do you have the option "hide extensions for known file types" checked? You can find that option in: Control Panel>Folder Options>View – Not Kyle stop stalking me May 30 '12 at 22:21
Which OS are you using? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 May 30 '12 at 22:21
I am using Windows 7 – DJoyce May 30 '12 at 22:25
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You are correct; Chrome fills its cache with extensionless, numbered files (most browsers do something like this as well). That is partly by design because you are not normally meant to access cache files manually (technically you are supposed to view/save files via the browser). You can identify the filetype of unknown files with tools like TrID.

That said, you are looking in the wrong place. Streaming videos are not stored in the cache; they are stored in the temporary directory.

Moreover, Internet videos are almost always set to be deleted when finished with. That is, the browser (or the Flash/Silverlight/etc. video-players to be specific) create the temporary file with a flag set that tells the OS to lock the file while it’s being used and immediately delete it when it’s released. As such, unlike other temp files, you cannot just copy it (because it’s locked) and when it’s unlocked, it’s gone.

(You don’t want the .swf files, those are for the video-player, not the video itself which is usually either .mp4 or .flv.)

You will need to use some tricks to get the video file:

  1. Download and install Unlocker
  2. Open the web page and let the video buffer (you will want to do this for one video at a time to keep things from getting cluttered)
  3. Open the folder %tmp% (defaults to %LOCALAPPDATA%\Temp in Windows 7, and %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temp in XP)
  4. look for a large file with a filename of the form fla####.tmp
  5. Right-click the file and select Unlocker
  6. Click the drop-down in the bottom-right corner and select Copy
  7. Save the file to another location (it needs to be on the same drive letter for now)
  8. Rename the file if needed (give it either a .mp4 or .flv extension)
  9. Open the video in a video player (VLC) and check it
  10. If good, then you can close the webpage and the temp file should be automatically deleted

That is the manual method and it is a bit of work (though it becomes quite fast and easy after you do it a couple of times). An easier way is to use a Chrome extension specifically meant to facilitate downloading videos instead of streaming them. Many of them support multiple video sites. For YouTube in particular, I recommend the userscript YousableTubeFix which seamlessly integrates into YouTube and also lets you remove various parts of the page (like useless comments and time-killing related-videos), as well as configure other settings like the default video size and to not auto buffer/play the video.

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Thanks for the reply, I tried this out, let it buffer and there was nothing in the %tmp% directory that you mentioned. There were files alright in the cache directory, but I didn't check their format. I also tried one extension but it didn't work for my site in question. Do sites have the capability to block these tools? – DJoyce Jun 5 '12 at 13:28
> Do sites have the capability to block these tools? Not in general, the extension is part of the browser, so the site has no real way of knowing about them, let alone affecting them. That said, depending on what the extension does, a site may be able to detect the extension's effects (e.g., detecting blocked cookies, ads, etc.) but not something like this. (Though video-downloading extensions usually work by manually accessing a video file, and a site could easily change the way that files are accessed, thus breaking the extension.) What site are you having trouble with. – Synetech Jun 5 '12 at 16:55
If there were not files in the temp directory, then it may be streaming them with RTMP instead, in which case, you would need to either use a video capture tool (blehc!) or better, a stream capture tool to save the bytes from the video as they download. – Synetech Jun 5 '12 at 16:57
Yes, I believe it may well be using RTMP, will look into such tools so to see if they work – DJoyce Jun 6 '12 at 13:21

I would use Firefox to download any Flash files, because:

  • you can open an .swf file in a new tab, and save it through the File menu without having to fetch it through any cache directory.
  • you can use the FlashGot extension to download any Flash-based videos (sometimes it downloads the same video multiple times but you can cancel redundant downloads)

Perhaps there's a similar extension/add-on for Chrome but I don't know of one.

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