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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