Flash CS5 Movie Formats - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Depending on where and how you plan to distribute your Adobe Flash Creative Suite 5 movie, you can have Flash CS5 create a variety of different formats at publish time. Although the most common deployment for Flash is a SWF file and a companion HTML (HyperText Markup Language) file for the web, it can generate files that can be used for CD-ROMs and mobile devices as well.

To choose file formats, choose File→Publish Settings and open the Publish Settings dialog box. On the Formats tab, select the check box next to each format you want to create.

Enter the file path in the text box or click the folder icon to browse to the destination (optional) for each file you create. By default, all files use the same name and are published to the same location as the original .fla file.


Take a look at the different file formats you can publish and where they’re used:

  • Flash (.swf): SWF is the most common file type you publish; it’s the one Flash Player and its plug-in use. Think about Flash Player as a movie projector and the SWF file as a movie reel you load on it. When publishing for the web, this file type is the one to choose, most often accompanied by an HTML (web) page that contains it.

  • HTML (.html): An HTML file, or a web page, is used as a container for your Flash movie when the target venue is the web. HTML files also provide an extra level of abilities, such as checking for the Flash plug-in or enabling additional runtime parameters, such as looping.

  • GIF Image (.gif), JPEG Image (.jpg), and PNG Image (.png): These selections create static images from your movie in the web-friendly GIF, JPEG, and PNG formats (depending on which check boxes you selected). You can use these images as placeholders (in case the user doesn’t have Flash Player or its plug-in) or as elements you can use if you’re creating a non-Flash version of your site.

    Keep in mind, however, that images are generated only from the first frame of your movie, so exporting an image from it may not yield much if your movie starts out blank or with minimal content.

  • Windows Projector (.exe) or Macintosh Projector: A projector is a package that includes your movie and Flash Player all in one. Projectors are commonly used for delivery on non-web formats, such as CD-ROM, but you can use them for any situation where you want standalone distribution, such as over e-mail or an intranet. If you’re delivering to users on both Windows and Macintosh platforms, publish a projector for each.

    A projector can’t be viewed in a web browser, so it isn’t a viable choice if you’re trying to work around requiring users to have Flash Player or its plug-in.