Some of the most entertaining content on the Web exists in the form of SWF files. These are files that the Adobe Flash player plays when you visit a website that has Flash content. If you'd like to save an SWF so that you can view it again later, use a simple trick to copy its URL and download the file to your hard drive.

How Your Browser Works

When you navigate to a Web page, your browser retrieves files from the site's Web server and assembles them to generate your Web page. If the page has Flash content, the Web server sends you one or more SWF files. That can happen because more than one SWF may exist on a page. Because developers add special tags to the HTML documents that make up their sites, you can often discover the URL of an SWF that a Web page displays.

Find the SWF URL

Internet Explorer has developer tools you can use to find HTML elements quickly. After you launch the browser, navigate to a Web page that has an SWF and press F12 to open the Developer Tools window. Click the “HTML” tab and then type “.swf” -- without the quotes -- in the search box in the upper right corner. This search box has no name. Press “Enter” and IE will highlight the line of code that contains “.swf” if the HTML code contains an SWF URL.

Create an HTML File

After you copy the URL you found, type <a href="URL">Save</a> into a new notepad document. Replace URL with the URL you copied and press “Ctrl-S” to open the Save As window. Type a name for the document, such as “SWF Link.html” in the File Name text box and click "Save" to save the document as an HTML File. These actions create a small HTML file that has a hyperlink that points to the SWF file.

Download the SWF

Return to Internet Explorer, open a new tab and press “Ctrl-O.” Click “Browse” and navigate to the folder where you saved your HTML file. Double-click the file and then click “OK.” IE opens the HTML page and displays a “Save” link. Right-click that link, click “Save Target As” and double-click the folder where you’d like to save the SWF. Click “Save” to save it to that folder.

Handling Short URL Names

Some website owners may not use a complete URL name when they add SWFs to their HTML code. For instance, you may only see a name such as “birthday.swf” when you search the code. Browsers can still find a SWF like this by appending that name to the end of the Web page’s name. If a page’s URL were http://www.xyz.com/music/songs.html, you would delete everything after the final forward slash to yield http://www.xyz.com/music/. You could then paste the SWF name you copied at the end of that URL. If that name were guitar.swf, your final URL would be http://www.xyz.com/music/guitar.swf. If you can’t find a SWF in the HTML code, you won’t be able to download it without knowing how to code JavaScript and step through a debugger. A few sites may use JavaScript to build a SWF URL as the code runs.