The FLV file extension indicates a Flash Video file. Flash Video files are created with the Adobe Flash application. Not all video players are compatible with the FLV file type. For example, the standard Windows Media Player will not play FLV files. However, a few free players are available on the Web that will play FLV files, such as VideoLan's VLC Media Player, SMPlayer or FFDShow. The first two free video tools will play an FLV file by default, without installing additional codecs or plug-ins. The third option, FFDShow, enables codecs that allow Windows Media Player to play FLV files.
Play FLV in VLC Player
Download and install the free VLC Player (see Resources).
Click the Windows "Start" button and select the "VLC Media Player" from the Programs list.
Click the "File" option on the top navigation bar.
Select "Open File…" from the menu.
Click the "Browse" button and navigate to the FLV file.
Click the FLV file to load it into the VLC player and click "OK." The VLC player window will expand to the size of the video and the FLV file will begin to play.
Play FLV in SMPlayer
Download and install the SMPlayer (see Resources).
Click the Windows "Start" button and select "SMPlayer" from the Programs list.
Click "Open" from the top navigation bar. A file navigation window will open.
Navigate to and click on the FLV file to load it into the player, then click "OK."
Click "Play" from the top navigation bar. The FLV video will play in the SMPlayer.
Play FLV in FFDShow
Download and install the FFDShow application (see Resources).
Select FLV as one FFDShow's video file types and click "Next." The program will install.
Click "Finish" when prompted to end the installation. A "Video Decoder Configuration" window and a "Video Encoder Configuration" window will both appear.
Click the "Video Decoder Configuration" window.
Click the "Codecs" option in the left pane of the Video Decoder Configuration window, then select "FLV1" in the right pane.
Select the "libavcodec" codec for the FLV1 file type and click the "Apply" button to save the settings.
Click the "VP6F" option and again select "libavcodec" for this entry. Click "Apply."
Click the "Video Encoder Configuration" window, then click the "Decoder" tab.
Repeat selecting the "Codec" option in the left pane, selecting the "FLV1" option in the right pane.
Click the "libavcodec" option and click "Apply."
Click the "VP6F" option in the right pane, and assign "libavcodec." Click "Apply."
Download and install the open source "Gabest Flash Video Splitter" (see Resources). This small, free application allows users to play FLV files in Windows Media Player.
Right-click on the FLV file, then select "Open With.." from the context menu.
Select "Windows Media Player" from the list of available applications.
Click the checkbox next to the "Do not ask me again" option and click "Yes" if prompted that Windows Media Player does not recognize the file extension.
Test the installation by playing the FLV file in Windows Media Player.
- GHacks.net: How to Play FLV Files
- VideoLan.org: VLC Media Player Product Page
- Sourceforge.net: The SMPlayer Project
- Afterdawn Guides: How to Play FLV Files
- VideoLan.org: VLC Media Player Download Page
- SourceForge.net: The SMPlayer Project Download Page
- Afterdawn.com: FFDShow Download Page
- Afterdawn.com: Gabest FFDShow Video Splitter Download Page