How to Use the Browser Cache to Save Files That Can’t Be Downloaded Directly

Internet browsers use caches to help speed up things when you revisit a page. The browser cache temporarily stores images, scripts, and other parts of web pages. Sometimes it is worth looking at the cache to see what is there.  For example, the cache provides one way to save images and multi-media files like MP3 and Flash from sites you’ve visited. Sometimes you would like to save a file such as a video that can only be viewed in the browser and has no download link. However, the file can be usually be retrieved from the browser cache and in this tip I will describe an extension that makes it easy to view and use the Firefox cache.

Although it is possible to view Firefox cache contents through the "about:cache" interface, it is easier and quicker to use a free extension called CacheViewer. This extension is a graphical front-end of "about:cache". It provides a way to sort files according to type so that finding a desired file is easier.  It also has a search function. Since caches can contain a lot of files, the sort and search capabilities are very useful.

Once you find a file with CacheViewer that you want to save, right-click it and select “Save As…” Then put the file in a convenient location. If the file is a video, it may very well be in the Flash format SWF. Not all video players can display SWF files. However, most browsers have a plug-in SWF player and can be used to view SWF files. Also Media Player Classic or IrfanView (with plug-in) can display SWF files.

Viewing the cache in Chrome and Internet Explorer

I discussed viewing the cache in Chrome in a previous tip. In Internet Explorer try NirSoft’s IE CacheView.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs a Windows blog called The PC Informant and also operates a computer education website.

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by Jake MAverick (not verified) on 21. October 2010 - 23:31  (59901)

ok, anybody figured out how to d/l jwplayer type files? it looks like a flash file to me, but with possibly something added to it to stop u d/l it?

not copyrighted as far as i know! but then agn plenty of stuff that is but doesn't have any who knows? ;-)

by Sohail (not verified) on 20. October 2010 - 23:02  (59814)

I use Maxthon and file sniffer in Maxthon can download any thing realted to page.

by 26Dolphins on 20. October 2010 - 17:44  (59800)


Correct me if I'm wrong, but can't you archieve this by just right-clicking on the page you're on, choosing "View Page Info" and selecting the "Media" tab in Firefox?

In that tab, everything listed as "media" can be saved using the "Save as" option.


by v.laurie on 20. October 2010 - 18:54  (59805)

26Dolphins, your suggestion is intriguing but, when I tried it on a couple of sites with videos, it didn't work. I could get images but not the video. Have you actually saved videos this way?

by 26Dolphins on 24. October 2010 - 13:59  (60081)

Hi Vic,
Sorry it took so long to reply.

I have occasionally (not much into this stuff), so I guess it doesn't work with all types of videos or all sites.


by Vincent Farrell (not verified) on 20. October 2010 - 12:02  (59784)

There's also a tiny program called VideoCacheView which automatically searches through the cache and shows all video files. You can then copy the ones you want to a destination folder.

by MidnightCowboy on 20. October 2010 - 15:26  (59793)

VideoCacheView is one of the excellent range of programs produced by Nir Sofer (NirSoft) and even recommended by MC - AAAgh!

If you have a FLV player on board, it will also allow you to play direct from the cache :)

Thanks Vincent :)

by eee (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 21:16  (59760)

Regarding flash videos, most of the time I simply copy them from %temp% with Unlocker. They are usually called "fla*.tmp".

by lokster (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 17:34  (59754)

On Firefox you can use the DownloadHelper extension. It allows you to download videos from hundreds of video websites with just a click. No need to deal with cache files. And it's cross-platform - I use it under Linux.

by StevenE (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 17:21  (59752)

Silverlight doesn't use the cache. Anyone know how to save/download those direct streaming vids?

by Philo (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 16:12  (59751)

I've had 2 occasions recently where I wanted to be able to save an "unsaveable" Flash video. In both cases, FlashGot + Firefox worked brilliantly when nothing else would.

by Diva on 19. October 2010 - 16:04  (59750)

Neat article. I have been trying to figure out how to do this.

by Jake MAverick (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 13:40  (59740)

i wd also recommend Sothink addon for firefox (explorer to i think)that let you d/l these files directly, also Freecorder- it also has the added advantage of being able to record any audio played back through your you use that though i wd going into settings and set the temporary storage size to zero, or it will automatically d/l every flash file/ advert that is on any page that you view.....that WILL put you over your d/l limit by end of month! ;-)

by John B (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 15:35  (59748)

The following was written by the developer of FlashGot.

"Sothink Web Video Downloader for Firefox

Stay away. It violates the GPL by incorporating FlashGot 1.1.9 verbatim, and breaks the original FlashGot because it overwrites core components which in the meanwhile have changed.

Source page:

by Vincent Farrell (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 12:45  (59739)

I use CacheSort. It fetches files from the IE cache automatically, in the background. You can specify which types of files it should fetch.
Just note that Youtube doesn't store their video files with the .flv extension in the cache, it saves it without an extension.

by Xtian (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 12:36  (59738)

Does this CacheViewer enable watching mov files? Until now Realplayer was for me the most solid video download/replay program for all kinds of video on the internet, but it freezes from time to time.

by v.laurie on 19. October 2010 - 14:54  (59746)

CacheViewer does not itself play media files. It just allows you to find them. I use Media Player Classic for MOV files. VLC Media Player also is good.

by AllanM (not verified) on 19. October 2010 - 12:18  (59736)

Firefox add-ons Flash-Got and Download Helper also enable most video downloads. Another option which seems to work well is DamnVid - I prefer portable apps :

or original home page

by TerDale on 19. October 2010 - 9:25  (59731)

BTW Opera has the feature embedded, using the private url opera:cache

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