Cisco's WebEx conferencing software makes it incredibly easy to hold meetings, trainings and other conferences from any location with a stable internet connection. However, what makes WebEx particularly powerful is its ability to export conference recordings as standalone files that can be viewed on or offline: .ARF files produced by the conferencing software can make keeping track of attendees, reviewing meeting outlines and making up missed training sessions incredibly easy. Though default video players cannot view .ARF files, there are a few simple methods available to watch a WebEx recording.
What is an .ARF File?
The .ARF file extension, short for "WebEx Advanced Recording Format," is used to designate recordings produced by Cisco's WebEx software. .ARF files are designed for easy viewing through Cisco's WebEx Player – and the files contain not only the video and audio data from the recorded meeting, but the attendee list, a table of contents from the meeting and other relevant information. When played back, this information is available across a number of panels paired with the video recording.
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.WRF files, short for "WebEx Recording File," are also produced by the WebEx software – but these files contain editable recording data and are not intended for playback. Instead, these files are produced by the user recording the WebEx meeting. By using the WebEx Recording Editor, .WRF files can be modified and exported as .ARF files for distribution and viewing by others.
Playing .ARF Files Online and Offline
Viewing a WebEx recording in the form of a .ARF is simple. If you're online and the WebEx recording has been emailed to you, look for a playback link in addition to the sent file: by clicking this, you will be able to view the recording immediately through your web browser, without needing to install any additional software. If a playback link is not present, or if you received the .ARF file directly, you can play it by downloading and installing Cisco's free WebEx Player, sometimes referred to as the "Network Recording Player." These programs work like any other video player.
The WebEx Player can be downloaded directly through Cisco's website, and is available for devices running both Windows and Mac OSX. Regardless of the operating system, the player will load .ARF files in the same way.
Converting .ARF Files
In the event that you need to convert a .ARF file to a different format, for viewing on a mobile device or a desktop that cannot install the WebEx Player for one reason or another, you can use the Network Recording Player to convert an .ARF to .MP4 format or a similar video format compatible with standard video player programs. To do this, load the .ARF file in the Network Recording Player, then open the File menu. Select "Convert Format" and follow the instructions. You will then be able to convert the .ARF into an .MP4, a .SWF or a .WMV video file. In the event that the "Convert Format" option cannot be selected on the menu, note that you will need to download the .ARF file you wish to convert to your computer.
If the device you wish to view the recording on cannot play .MP4, .SWF or .WMV video files, you can run the recorded file in one of the three exportable formats through a secondary video converter – in the form of either a standalone program or a website converter. These will allow you to access a wider variety of video format options, such as .MKV or .MOV.