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Hidden remnants of Flash

I love finding new music and visit many record company and artist web sites. Many times they offer a free MP3 download, but usually sample songs are in RealAudio (blah) or you get 30 seconds of an MP3. Sometimes though you get to hear a whole song. This is usually the case on sites that use Flash.

Flash is a format used to create interactive multimedia websites. Your browser should have a Flash plug-in allowing you to view the site, but if not, you’ll be prompted to download it. Now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you a story:

One day I visited a website done in Flash and there was a neat little music player at the bottom.


I clicked play (the forward triangle, just like on my CD player) and it took a few seconds to load then the song played. Wow, the full song and in good quality.

Then I started thinking: when that song loaded, where did it go? Most likely to my Temporary Internet Files. So I went to Tools/Internet Options, clicked on “Settings” under the General tab then hit the “View Files” button.

I clicked the field name for “Type” to sort the files then scrolled down past html, jpg, and js until I came to a bunch of MP3 files.


So, it turns out that in most cases the Flash players just play MP3 files that are loaded onto your computer. I found that the same is often true of video on sites—you might find .avi or .wmv files after visiting a site with a video player.

Now comes the ethical question. The file is already on your computer, you didn’t illegally download it, in fact it is there as a result of the web site’s design. So, is it OK to keep?

I’ll leave that one up to your conscience.

If you do decide to keep them: highlight the music or video files, minimize the file window and open your “My Music” or “My Video” folder and drag them over to it.

There are ways to get free, legal music online—check out our website to find out how…

~ David

David Samuel Thomas