What Is an FLV File?

How to open and convert FLV files

What to Know

This article explains what FLV files are, how to play one on any platform, and how to convert one to a different video format so that it plays correctly on your device.

What Is an FLV File?

Standing for Flash Video, a file with the .FLV file extension is a file that uses Adobe Flash Player or Adobe Air to transmit video or audio over the internet.

Flash Video has long been the standard video format used by nearly all embedded video on the internet including the videos found on YouTube, Hulu, and many more websites. However, since Adobe has officially discontinued Flash, streaming services and software developers have dropped Flash in favor of HTML5 and other formats.

Mouse cursor opening an .flv file to a dancing hamburger video
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

The F4V file format is a Flash Video file that's similar to FLV. Some FLV files are embedded in SWF files.

FLV files are most commonly known as Flash Video files. However, because Adobe Flash Professional is now called Animate, files in this format might also be referred to as Animate Video files.

How to Play an FLV File

Files of this format are usually created using the Flash Video Exporter plug-in included in Adobe Animate. Therefore, that program should open FLV files just fine.

Other FLV players include VLC, Winamp, and MPC-HC. Other popular media players probably support the format, too.

The free PlayerXtreme Media Player plays FLV files on your phone or tablet. It supports lots of other file formats, too. Download this app to open FLV files through Google Play for Android or iTunes for iOS.

Several programs edit and export to this format, including DVDVideoSoft's Free Video Editor.

How to Convert an FLV File

Convert an FLV file to another format if a particular device, video player, website, etc., doesn't support the format. For example, iOS has never supported Flash and therefore won't play FLV files.

Many free file converters convert FLV files to other formats that can be recognized by a wide variety of devices and players. Freemake Video Converter and Any Video Converter convert FLV to MP4, AVI, WMV, and MP3, among many other file formats.

To convert a small FLV file, upload it to Zamzar, a free online file converter. It lets you save to a variety of formats like MOV, 3GP, MP4, FLAC, AC3, AVI, and GIF, among others, but also to a handful of video presets like PSP, iPhone, Kindle Fire, BlackBerry, Apple TV, DVD, and more.

CloudConvert works, too. Save to MKV, WEBM, WAV, MP3, and others.

More Information on Flash Video File Formats

FLV isn't the only Flash Video file format. Other applications may use the F4V, F4A, F4B, or F4P file extension to indicate a Flash Video.

Some websites offering streaming content, like Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, etc., used to support Flash as their default video file format but have completely eliminated all Flash video files in favor of the newer HTML5 format. This change has been fueled by the fact that Adobe no longer supports Flash.

Still Can't Open It?

If the programs mentioned above don't open your file, double-check that you're reading the file extension correctly. If the software on this page won't open the file you have, it's probably because it just looks like an .FLV file but is really using a different suffix.

For example, you might find that you really have an FLP file, which could belong to the FL Studio Project, Floppy Disk Image, ActivPrimary Flipchart, or FruityLoops Project format. In any of those cases, the FLV players above aren't appropriate for opening the file.

In the instance of FLP files, you might actually have a Flash Project file, and it therefore should open with Adobe Animate.

FLS files are similar in that while they might be Flash Lite Sound Bundle files that work with Adobe Animate, they could instead be ArcView GIS Windows Help Supporting files and used by ESRI's ArcGIS Pro software.

LVF is another example where the file belongs to the Logitech Video Effects file format but the file extension closely resembles FLV. In this case, the file would open not with a video player but with Logitech's webcam software.

You get the idea here: check the file extension, and if it's not ".FLV" then you should research the real letter/number combination to determine the file format and eventually the program that's responsible for opening or converting it.

FAQ
  • What is Flash?

    Adobe Flash is a platform used to create and view multimedia content. It typically runs in web browsers. It's sometimes also referred to as Shockwave Flash or Macromedia Flash.

  • How can you download an embedded Flash video?

    Using Google Chrome, go to the website with the video you want and use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+U to open the page's source code. Look for a file using the .swf extension, then save it to your hard drive.

  • How do you uninstall Adobe Flash Player?

    If you open the player, Adobe may automatically ask you to uninstall it since it's no longer supported. If not, you can manually remove it by downloading the uninstaller (Windows, Mac OS 10.1 to 10.3, Mac OS 10.4 and later) and running it. Follow the on-screen instructions to remove Flash Player from your computer.

  • Why did Flash shut down?

    Adobe decided to end support for Flash because it's no longer needed. There are now plenty of viable alternatives, such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly. Tech companies are integrating them into their web browsers, making Flash obsolete.

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