How to load SWF files on the desktop

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 16, 2019
Updated • Jul 16, 2019

Adobe will retire Flash in late 2020 and all major browser makers announced that they would end support for Flash in 2020 in the browsers as well.

Mozilla will set Flash to disabled in Firefox 69 by default, and Google made Flash usage in Chrome more annoying with the release of Chrome 76.

Some web browsers, Pale Moon being one of them, will retain support for NPAPI plugins and thus Adobe Flash even after support ends officially.

End of support has no effect on available Flash content on the Internet, at least not initially. Adobe Shockwave SWF files may be part of distributions or may have been downloaded from the Internet, and if you have Flash files on your system, you may want to continue using these files even after the retiring of Flash.

SWF was a popular format for interactive tutorials and learning content in general, but also for gaming. SWF, which stands for Small Web File, is sometimes also called Shockwave Flash file.

When you try to play the SWF file on your desktop PC, you may notice that it is not that easy anymore. Most web browsers disallow the dragging and dropping of such files into their interface for playback; those that allow it right now (in mid 2019) will stop allowing it once Flash support runs out.

One example: when you drag a swf file onto the Chrome interface you get a download prompt and the Flash file is not played.

Since web browsers will stop supporting Flash and SWF files anyway, it is necessary to look elsewhere to find a reliable option that will work after 2020. One of the better options is the freeware SWF File Player.

SWF File Player

swf file player

SWF File Player is available on the project website. The program is freeware, and it requires the .NET Framework and Shockwave Flash Object.

Just install the application on the Windows system to get started. The program displays a blank interface on start and you need to use File > Open to load SWF files. Both compressed and uncompressed SWF files are supported.

SWF File Player parses the header of the file and fills out information on the screen. Hit the play button to start playback. If it is a game, you can start playing, and if is an app, you can start using it right away.

Note that you may run into issues if a SWF file needs to download content from the Internet, as it depends on the availability of the server. It should work if the server is still up. Use F11 to toggle full screen mode.

Gamers may also want to check out the Flash Games Preservation project Flashpoint as an alternative. The project collects Flash games from all over the Internet to preserve them; you may download a program from the project website to download and play these preserved Flash games directly in the program's interface. The project limits the preservation to games, however.

Now you: do you still use Flash?

How to load SWF files on the desktop
Article Name
How to load SWF files on the desktop
Find out how to play Flash SWF files on your Windows desktop using free software; method does not require a web browser.
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  1. FLASHFANSWF said on September 13, 2019 at 3:48 am

    Well I don’t see why having little people use your application they have to cancel FLASH and ruin a bunch of other files that was popular.

  2. Doc said on July 16, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    Media Player Classic handles SWF files, including games, just fine.

    1. Anonymous said on September 25, 2019 at 9:26 am

      I tried this but it doesn’t get past the menu

  3. rickmv said on July 16, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    After 2020, playing local swf files will be one of the two main functions of obsolete code called palemoon. The other one being infecting your system serving malware from a Windows hosting file server. Because, only “who is brainwashed or communist” uses Linux file servers. Or because Windows 7 is the great paradigm, the most advanced piece of technology some so called “devs.” can get to understand.

    Martin, please don’t let this paradigm head bring their “corrections” here on gHacks, same as they try to do to the Waterfox Dev. they keep on bashing jealous about what he could do with the excellent supported Waterfox. palemoon is becoming more insignificant as a browser to be even mentioned, it is just “a minor rebuild” of some old Mozilla code. Even moon “devs.” don’t care how many tens or hundreds of users they have.

  4. New Tobin Paradigm said on July 16, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Martin, my only suggestion is you make the distinction between mainstream browsers and all browsers. All browsers will NOT be blocking the Flash player or indeed other types of plugins.

    In this world we have really two and a half mainstream browser engine platform classes: Blink (Google Chrome/Opera/New Edge/and a dozen more), Gecko (Firefox, Waterfox, and remaining minor rebuilds), and Webkit.

    I say the distinction is important because of course Goanna and the Unified XUL Platform shall not be crippling or removing npapi and while individual projects may add blocklist entries for specific versions of a plugin the user can always override that if they desire.


    -Since web browsers will stop supporting Flash and SWF files anyway, it is necessary to look elsewhere to find a reliable option that will work after 2020.
    +Since mainstream web browsers and close derivatives will stop supporting Flash and SWF files anyway, it is necessary to look elsewhere to find a reliable option that will work after 2020.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 16, 2019 at 5:10 pm

      Fair enough, I have added information to the guide to make that clearer.

      1. New Tobin Paradigm said on July 16, 2019 at 10:38 pm

        That isn’t really what I said or asked for but whatever.

  5. nosamu said on July 16, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    There is no need to use third-party programs to play SWF files. Adobe provides a standalone Flash Player for Windows, Mac, and Linux here:
    Here is the direct link to the standalone Flash Player for Windows:

    Simply double-click the EXE, then go to File -> Open and load any SWF URL or file.

  6. Anonymous said on July 16, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    I’m using Adobe Flash Player Projector for games and interactive .swf because it’s portable and official from Adobe :

  7. Bobo said on July 16, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Or just use a media player that can handle .swf, like PotPlayer for example. Seems like extreme overkill to use this here proposed program that additionally requires.NET Framework and Shockwave Flash Object just to play a flash file.

    1. Anonymous said on July 16, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      I’ve read that VLC Media Player also supports Flash.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 16, 2019 at 11:15 am

      Bobo good point, but that works for Flash movies but not for games or interactive apps.

      1. Bobo said on July 16, 2019 at 4:52 pm

        Aaah, didn’t take games and such into account before I posted my comment, sorry about that. But still, one would assume that there’s some portable apps that can handle such things without having to install anything extra.. I shall now put on my Google-goggles and go find out!

      2. Anonymous said on July 17, 2019 at 7:19 pm

        Try MPC

  8. Yuliya said on July 16, 2019 at 7:19 am

    Microsoft, in all their wisdom, decided to make ActiveX Flash part of LTSC1809. An OS which has support until 2029. I wonder how they will handle this – maybe an update to wipe it off the system?
    I personally stopped installing Flash years ago. On LTSC I disabled the ActiveX plugin from Control Panel. I know there are also some PS commands to completely get rid of, which is a good thing.

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