How to save Streaming Media

- for FREE or for a small fee -
(some files are impossible to get without a streaming recorder utility)

*** also see

FLV Files (FLash Video)  -  FLV files are rather new but they have quickly become all the rage with these video clip sites where kids do dumb things so they can get hurt and show the world.  FLV's were created for streaming - but they can be delivered in three different ways:
  1. Embedded in a SWF file using the Flash authoring tool (supported in Flash Player 6 and later)
  2. Streamed via RTMP to the Flash Player using the Flash Media Server (formerly called Flash Communication Server)
    This is the best option for allowing advanced seek capabilities and automatic bandwidth detection.
  3. Progressively downloaded via HTTP (supported in Flash Player 7 and later.)

Summary - How to grab the Various Types of streaming Video Files

*** FIRST *** always check to see if the site has provided a "Download" link, and if they have . . . right-click on the link and select "Save Target as . . ."

*** there is one utility called HiDownload that they claim can capture WMV, MOV, and RM files - however, no one I know has tried it !!!

Saving Streaming Media without any special Software

Every now and then you come to a page with a fantastic flash movie, or a Real Audio song that you love, or a Windows Media video clip that is exactly what you have been looking for.  No problem, you figure, "I'll just right-click on it and save it like I do with images".  Woops, doesn't work with streaming clips !!

Fortunately, the majority of these clips, while they stream in . . . are being saved to a file on your hard drive.  This file is usually in the "Temporary Internet Files" folder. When the clip is finished loading, the file usually stays there until you move to another web page or close your browser. 

       But I don't see any video Files in my "Temporary Internet Files" Folder ??

In some cases the clip is either saved somewhere else (who knows where? - but check the "temp" folder) or is stored in memory (RAM), and therefore no file is created and you cannot save it !!   For example, clips use an integrated Internet Explorer Real Player, which plays clips in RAM only.  But most clips are stored as a file, since RAM is so precious.. 

If a clip is not stored as a file, and you absolutely need it - film it with a video camcorder and if you have a video capture card, import it as an avi file.  The quality will be terrible and you will get the refresh screen flickering - but you will be able to view it later.  This is not recommended !!

Where is the "Temporary Internet Files" Folder ??

IMPORTANT - with WinXP when you right-click on the "Temporary Internet Files" folder, there is no Search option in the popu menu.  So instead, right-click on the "Local Settings" folder, one level up, and there will be a Search option.  To search for all streaming and standard video files, in the "Find" field, enter: 


How to Save the Various Types of Streaming Media

see also 

and for short (120 kB) ASF and RM sample clips - go to 

for Audio - simply Record it !!
If all else fails you can usually start up an audio recorder utility such as Cool Edit, and record while the streaming clip plays.  If you have a dialup connection and it stops to re-buffer, you can carefully edit out the silence in the clip.

The Linked Streaming Media Links "trick"

the "Create your own Web Page" Trick - for Quicktime (*.mov files) and Real "*.RAM files"

If a link on a web page references a streaming video file directly, you just right-click on the link and select "Save Target as . . ." and then save the file.  BUT quite often the link on the web page will play a video, but indirectly.  It may take you to a page with the video clip embedded (Quicktime), or it may have a pointer text file, such as Real Audio/Video RAM and SMI files.  Here is the trick:

An actual working sample of the "Create your own Web page" trick:

OK here is a link to an old, grainy video of my daughter:  My daughter  -  I used a "ram" file, which is nothing more than a text file with a link to the actual clip, which is an rm file.

Test the file first, and play it, as you would on any website.  Now suppose you want to save the actual clip, which is an rm file.  You don't know where the file resides, since the link does not go directly to that file.  So do the following:

right-click on the link and select "Save Target as. . ." and then save the ram file

open the ram file (daughter.ram) in notepad - and you will see it has one line:

now, you can enter that line in your web browser's address field and play the file - but you still cannot save it.  So instead, create a web page from notepad, and save it as "c:\temp1.htm".  The web page will have the following text in it:

<a href="">Link</a>

now just run the file, temp1.htm and it will open in your web browser and will have a single link in it to the rm file.  Roght-click and select "Save Target as" to get the rm file.  Give it any name you wish, such as "temp1.rm".  Oddly, IE will still tell you it is downloading a "ram" file, but it will actually be downloading the rm.


Saving embedded video Flash (swf files)

 Download the Free version of Flash Extract Pilot.  

*** see to buy cool custom Flash 5.0 templates that you can customize (you get the source code - the *.fla file) - or have them make a special template for you !!  Of course, you need Flash MX to edit the fla file.

Easy to save - manually or using a flash capture utility.  These are movies by Macromedia software - used for web page intro's normally.  The entire movie, which is an "swf" file, is saved before it begins playing.  Simply search the "Temporary Internet Files" folder for *.swf, and then copy the file somewhere.  

NOTE: to se if your Flash and Shockwave players are up to date, go to the Macromedia Test Page.

Flash Capture, by Dreamingsoft

This is an excellent flash capture utility.  Once installed, for any flash movie that is playing, you just move your mouse over it and a tiny box pops up with an option to save the swf file wherever you choose !!  They have a free 14-day trial, but it does not say the trial is disabled after that time - seems to just give a nag screen. There are several other similar utilities and as mentioned - Flash Movie Extract Pilot is a freebie.

How to embed your saved SWF File Into a Web Page

Just follow this sample code, which works for the Flash Movie file, M03L03P002.swf  -  simply replace that file name with your own, and adjust the display size (width and height) parameters, which appear in two places:

<object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" 
codebase=",0,29,0" width="560" height="300">
<param name="movie" value="M03L03P002.swf">
<param name=quality value=high>
<embed src="M03L03P002.swf" quality=high 
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="300">

Background and the Difference between Flash and Shockwave

*** see also Flash vs Shockwave 

Shockwave was created by Macromedia, to enable webbers to view Macromedia Director content directly in their browser. Macromedia also acquired and quickly updated and renamed the program to Flash 2, and the plug-in to Shockwave Flash Player. That, was when all the confusion began.  Basically there are two players:

Shockwave usually refers to content created in Director and is used for interactive web add-ins, especially games.  Flash refers to content created in Flash and is used mostly for movies, such as web page intros.

Saving streaming Flash Videos

FLV files can be delivered in three different ways:
  • Embedded in a SWF file using the Flash authoring tool (supported in Flash Player 6 and later)
  • Streamed via RTMP to the Flash Player using the Flash Media Server (formerly called Flash Communication Server)
    This is the best option for allowing advanced seek capabilities and automatic bandwidth detection.
  • Progressively downloaded via HTTP (supported in Flash Player 7 and later.)


Saving Microsoft's WMA, WMV, ASX, ASF, etc

Easy to save manually.  These are Windows Media Audio, Windows Media Video, Active Stream redirector and Advanced Systems Format.  These are true streaming media files, in that they begin playing as soon as they have buffered (saved) enough data so that the clip can play without stopping in the middle.  Of course, the algorithm that calculates how much to buffer before playing - makes a guess, which is often wrong, and the clip may stop several times to re-buffer.  The point is, the file is not complete until you have played the entire clip!!!

The following method works for wmv, wma, asf, and asx files :

  1. from the website, start playing the stream - if it ask you if you want to play it in IE, say NO !!
  2. let the clip finish - DO NOT close WMplayer and DO NOT go to another web page
  3. open Explorer and go to the Temporary Internet Files folder
  4. now find the stored file . . . either :
         - search for files such as *.wmv, *.wma, etc
         - click on the "Date Modified" tab which will be to the right of the Search box headers (you may have to 
            scroll to the right to see it). Then look for the most recent files.
  5. copy the file to another folder and rename it if necessary - DO NOT PLAY IT IN THE "Temporary Internet Files" folder
  6. DONE


ASF is a streaming video or audio file – similar to Real Media rm files.  It has extra capabilities such as slide shows and special controls.

ASX comes in 2 flavors.  It was designed to be a Windows Metafile Extension, which is a text file that makes a call to the ASF file, similar to Real Media ram files  -  but it can also be a self-contained video or audio file.   


Saving RA, RM (Real Audio and Real Media  -  ra is audio and rm is video) 

Usually Impossible***  to save manually  -  requires a Real Media capture utility.  These are also true streaming media files - unfortunately, only the pointer file is downloaded to Temporary Internet Files, and the actual media file is either held in mempry or stored with another filename.  

*** in some cases, the website author will link directly to the ra or rm file instead of using a ram pointer file.  In these cases you can use the same method as listed above for Microsoft streaming media files - they will be stored in the "Temporary Internet Files" folder.

RAM and SMI files - Real Media (*.rm and *.ra) files are not accessed directly by the link.  For example, to play mysong.ra, the web page must include a ram file - that is a text reference (pointer), for example, mysong.ram.  The ram file has one short line of text, with the URL of the Real Media clip.  The web page will have a link to the ram file only.  

Realmedia has gotten smart lately, and created SMI files to replace the older, limited RAM files. The smi file is an in-between link which rerouts the link yet again (therefore utilities such as xfileget, streamdpwn and streambox vcr only downloads the .smi file and gets fooled into thinking that's the whole thing).  "SMI" files are similar to RAM files, but they have a lot of additional features and parameters that can be added.  Again, the SMI files merely points to the Real Media files, so you cannot download it from the link.

The line of text in the ram file begins with the protocol used to initiate streaming and can be rtsp://, mms://, pnm://, or http://  -  however, http:// and pnm:// are the most common.  But Do not use pnm:// in the playback URL for a live or on-demand stream generated with Helix Producer 9. Files generated with Helix Producer 9 or later do not include the interleaved audio/video stream required by the PNM protocol.  

NOTE:  the pnm prefix  -  if the ram file text line begins with  "pnm://"  instead of "http://" then the file resides on a “Real Audio server”. 

see Intro to Streaming Media by Real Networks - a MUST READ !!!

and for tech info

StreamDown utility (saves those "hard to get" Real Media files)

You can either buy ($39) or download the 15-day Trial of "CoCSoft Stream Down".  The trial is 15 days but see the modified date trick below.  Or if that does not work, re-download the trial.  It supports HTTP, FTP, RTSP, MMS, MMSU, and MMST.  Simply paste the URL, and it downloads the associated media file !!
Minor Bug - saved extension wrong:  as an example, if you paste the URL,  -  for some reason, StreamDown saves the ra file but it names it with a ram extension - so you need to rename it with an ra extension.
Modified Date trick - to change the modified date of a file, open it in any Hex editor such as XVI32, change one Hex value, save it, change it back, and save it again - viola - new modified date !!  This usually does not work with trials, however - they have protection built in to defeat that. But with StreamDown it gets confused and in one case, said the user had -8 days left, and kept working !!!

X-FileGet Utility

RAM only - DOES NOT WORK WITH SMI files !!!  Similar to StreamDown - I tested this app and it did not work !!

Why the Manual Method of saving Real Media Files does not Work

Web browsers will open a URL with a ram file at the end and play the ra file in the Real Player - but they will not open a "page" with an ra or rm extension !!!

Now, it seems that if we could see the contents of the ram file we would see the URL to the ra file - but how to download it ??  Some say you can go to your browser's file associations and remove the ra association - then your browser does not know how to play the file, and will ask you if you want to save it - but no, the browser will simply refuse to open that "page".  In addition, you typically cannot FTP files from a URL because the hosts do not permit FTP in general, except for specific special FTP locations.

Google Videos (gvp files)

The "gvp" file is NOT the video !!!  It is merely a text file with the URL to the video inside of it.  It also has other text to fool you - but here we show you what text to use for the URL.  SIMPLE !!!

NOTE: "" used to be popular for saving Google videos - but Google changed something and keepvids it no longers works reliably - if at all !!!

  1. associate "gvp" files with Notepad as follows:
  1. check the box "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file"
  2. open two instances of IE web browser
  3. goto Google Videos ( - or goto for the Top 100
  4. select a video and watch just enough of it to get it into your cache (until the grey bar goes all the way to the right)
  5. click the Stop button
  6. click "Download Video"
  7. click "Cancel" when it asks you to DL the Google Player (GooglePlayerSetup.exe)
  8. click "Manually download the video"
  9. click "Open" - this causes a small text file with the extension *.gvp" to open in Notepad
  10. drag mouse across the text that is between "url:" and "duration" (see example below)
  11. hit CTRL-C to copy the URL of the video clip and close Notepad
  12. goto your other Web Browser (not the one running Google Video)
  13. click once in the Address field to get the cursor there
  14. hit CTRL-V to paste the video URL, then <enter>
  15. a box pops up - click the "Save" button

DONE !!!  The process looks cumbersome, but once you do it a couple of times it takes all of 10 seconds !!

You can now go back to the other IE window that is running Google Videos, and click the "Back" button to view and save more videos

Example of a Google gvp file and the actual URL of the Video

The gvp file contains the following text:

# download the free Google Video Player from
title:Teen girls fight in school hallway. Stock Footage.
description:Medium shot of two teen girls standing and fighting in hallway at school. Thinkstock Footage is live on Creatas. To purchase this clip please click the link above.

Here I have inserted dashes and arrows to show you where the text that you want begins and ends:

# download the free Google Video Player from
title:Teen girls fight in school hallway. Stock Footage.
description:Medium shot of two teen girls standing and fighting in hallway at school. Thinkstock Footage is live on Creatas. To purchase this clip please click the link above.

So when you select that text, it will be the following string: