What Are the Different Flash Players?

By John Mitchell

The Adobe Flash Player browser plugin is most commonly called a flash player. It allows a browser to auto-detect and play back FLV files on a website through a direct URL link. Besides the Adobe plugin, there are other lesser known server-side flash players. A website visitor still needs to have the Adobe Flash plugin installed to utilize these players. However, these different players let webmasters display a video box on a website that plays a FLV file.


Flowplayer is a FLV player available for free and commercial use. The free version is branded with the Flowplayer name, but provides non-commercial websites with a free FLV video player. It is released under a General Public License (GPL) with the source code freely available on the developer's site. If you want to use the Flowplayer code for commercial use, then you must purchase it directly from the developer. The commercial version comes in three variants, including Commercial, Multidomain and Unlimited licenses.

FLV Player

FLV Player, which you can download from CNET Download, is a standalone Windows program. It plays flash files on your computer without the need of the Internet. This user-specific player lets you easily navigate back and forth between your flash video collection, adjust the volume, resize the window and control other program behavior. This player lets you view both Flash FLV files and H.264 (MPEG-4) videos.

JW Player

JW Player is one of the most commonly used flash players on websites. This open-source tool plays Flash FLV, HTML5, H.264 and YouTube videos along with MP3 audio. The software is extremely versatile, allowing a webmaster to quickly customize the look and size of the player box. Additionally, the developers have a free standalone version that runs on your desktop. It is named the JW Desktop Player and plays back any Flash FLV, MP4, AAC or MP3 file on your PC.