Web video is still largely powered by Adobe’s Flash technology. Sure, some sites like Youtube begin to offer videos in different formats like WebM, but Adobe Flash is still the dominant format, even on Youtube. That’s a problem if Flash is not working properly on your system. If you experience lags, endless buffering or other related issues.
So what’s the alternative? When available, use WebM or another plugin that supports streaming video. If not? One option would be to download the video to the local computer to watch it in a desktop media player.
That’s what the Firefox add-on FlashVideoReplacer does. Well, not completely, it offers much more than that. The extension basically replaces the Flash video player on the video site with an alternative, or sends the web video directly to a compatible desktop media player.
The available alternatives depends largely on the operating system, the desktop media players and the media plugins that are installed on the system.
The developer’s website offers compatibility information. Linux users for instance will see best results with the gecko-mediaplayer plugin and standalone players like SMPlayer, MPlayer or Totem. Windows users with the Quicktime plugin, Microsoft’s Windows Media Player Firefox plugin and the standalone players SMPlayer, Windows Media Player or KMPlayer. Mac users, well, they can try to use the Quicktime plugin, but there is no support for desktop media players on that operating system.
Flash may or may not be needed depending on the plugin used. The Media Player plugin for Firefox for instance requires Flash, while Quicktime does not. Standalone players do not require Flash at all. This in theory makes it possible to disable or uninstall Flash without losing video playback capabilities on supported sites.
The standard Flash player video interface is replaced by the Firefox add-on. It now displays options to play the video on the site with the help of another media player plugin, or to send it to one of the configured desktop media players if the standalone option is selected.
The extension can be configured to automatically switch to another video plugin so that videos start to play right away. The configuration options are different for each replacement option. They usually include the selection of a video player alternative, quality settings, site support and the selection of a download folder.
FlashVideoReplacer detects installed media players automatically, with the option to point the extension to a custom player on the computer’s hard drive, good for video players that were not detected during scan or players that are not installed but available.
The Firefox add-on worked well on supported sites like Youtube or Vimeo. Several popular sites are on the other hand not compatible with the add-on, Gametrailers and Dailymotion for instance. The add-on supports downloading of videos from popular websites. It is for instance possible to download youtube videos. The download capabilities fall short on a lot of other sites though. It is more of a nice to have than an actual replacement for the excellent video download helper add-on.
The idea to replace Flash player is great, and it works well for users who only watch videos on supported sites. It is great to watch Youtube videos on a standalone desktop player without even thinking of installing or using Adobe Flash on the computer. It is however not a complete solution, at least not yet, as it is not working on all video websites.
Firefox users who want to give this a try can download the Flash video Replacer add-on from the official Mozilla Firefox add-on repository.