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I cannot open FLA files in CS5 "UNEXPECTED FILE FORMAT" help!

Jun 12, 2010 4:27 PM

I am in desperate need of someone's help.  For the second time I cannot open 2 FLAs that I have more than 100 design hours invested.  I'm running CS5 and need to find out what can be done?  I am afraid to do anything with the fear this will happen again, I have got to open these files and finish the projects.  How can this be done or what can resolve the issue.


I cannot believe ADOBE would release CS5 with such a serious problem.  This is damn near life and death, these two files represent a $200k account.


PLEASE HELP! My name is Kevin and my email is

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    Jun 13, 2010 1:23 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150



    First of all. Always make a backup of your work..Never work on the only copy you have! <---Real important!

    Create a new folder (somewhere else) and copy everything to that folder.


    Do you have you something embedded, which isn't there on your computer anymore?

    It doesn't have to mean, that the fla file is corrupt.Just that what flash expected to find

    isn't there...It could be you're missing software like Photoshop, if you have embedded PSD

    files, Excel if you're using the xls.. a.s.f...Make sure, that everything you need is there

    on your computer.


    Hope you solve the problem


    Best regards


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    Jun 13, 2010 1:44 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    In what version of Flash were the flas created? Try opening them with this version. You can try also to import the swfs, if you have not protected them. And yes, always store more version of the fla.






    Emil Georgiev - Flash and Web Design

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    Jul 21, 2010 10:59 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    I've just come across the same problem.


    I purchased CS5 for Windows 7 and started working on a site that was built in CS4. When I saved it the first time, it gave me the option to save it in CS4 or CS5 format. I saved two copies, one in each format. Every time I've saved my progress, I've done the same thing. Saving multiple copies of a .fla file is helpful under any other circumstance, but it's useless in this one because Flash suddenly decided it didn't feel like opening any of them today.


    I tried opening the same file I've been working on for days and it said "Unexpected file format. Can't find file: [file name]." It opened everything with no problems yesterday and every previous day, but today it gave me this message. It seems like a lot of other people have been having this issue and I really hope someone can offer some advice.



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    Jul 21, 2010 11:02 AM   in reply to ace_parhamovich

    PS, here is the exact message:


    Unexpected file format.
    The following JavaScript error(s) occurred:


    Cannot find file J:\WebsiteFiles\CBW Source_Files\Source Files\site_reorganized_CS5.fla.



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    Jul 21, 2010 12:00 PM   in reply to ace_parhamovich

    Okay. Strangest thing ever:


    I just spent an hour on the phone with Flash tech support only to have them tell me that it was a file issue and had nothing to do with the program. I created a new .fla document, saved it, and it re-opened fine. Their only explanation was that "your files have been corrupted and the program is working perfectly fine, sorry," with no explanation as to WHY they were suddenly being rejected by Flash.


    But that's not the best part.


    After I hung up, I restarted my computer and just out of desperation tried to open the corrupted files again. THEY WORKED PERFECTLY FINE. I'm starting to think this program is simply possessed.


    Sorry your issue hasn't been resolved, OP. :/

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    Jul 30, 2010 12:42 PM   in reply to ace_parhamovich

    Fla files like every other type of file can and do corrupt. The causes are different: lost fragments of data, bad HDD sectors, etc ....


    This is one reson for possibly not being able to open your file.

    Another is if the file was created with more recent version of Flash and you're trying to open it with an older version. It is usually then when the "unknown file format" message appears

    I myself have never had this type of problem with my own files for years ... The only time it happened to me was when I handled a file of my client, which simply may have been poorly treated. This is one in thousands if not more error ...






    Emil Georgiev - Flash & Web Design

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    Aug 16, 2010 4:26 PM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    I am also using CS5 flash at work with windows 7. I quickly learned to save multiple versions of the same file. It is still incredibly annoying to have it crash while saving and corrupt my files 6 or 7 times a week and I still lose work. Flash CS5 is inexcusably unreliable and buggy. Please come up with a solution to this problem as soon as possible. It is interfering with my productivity at work.

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    Aug 29, 2010 9:28 PM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    WinXPSP3, same problem encountered.


    Have filed a bug report, still not heard anything. Last time I trawled through Adobe's support service it ate through 7 hours of my dev time (and therefore budget).


    Since I can no longer create basic SWF export because of;


    • Inconsistent export outcomes; pixel positions of a non-dynamic MovieClip, on stage, differs every time
    • Re-draw problems with masks when working on the Stage; sometimes they disappear, sometimes they don't apply on export
    • Random program crashes when datatype-hinting kicks in
    • Custom classes not compiling (Not a network-related problem here)
    • Old skool tweening engines (Zigo) not exporting (though recognised and error-free)
    • Can't open source files created in the same version as the IDE which fails to open said files


    As with the last bullet point, and the title of this post, the "Unexpected File Format" error has been the last straw. This camel's back is broken. Just now I heightened my Adobe experience by failing to install CS5 on Vista because of "Error with Component Dependencies" -- but only after clicking 20 or 30 times to actually download the Akamai download manager -- whatever.


    As technical lead at our company, I have now begun strongly advising against production of any serious work when the requirement involves working with what, in my opinion, is now this demo-only "show your friends" piece of software -- Flash CS5.


    My tether breaking:  -----~ ~-----



    I changed the .fla file to a .zip file, tried to extract it and both WinZip and WinRAR threw errors around some 'DOMDocument.xml' file being corrupt, output log:


    Extracting file: Z:\Clients\Ministry of Health\HepC\06 Development\In Progress\content\#src\Copy of

    Extracting to "Z:\Clients\Ministry of Health\HepC\06 Development\In Progress\content\#src\Copy of 3080-audio-loader\"

    Use Path: yes   Overlay Files: no

    Extracting Loader.xfl

    creating: Z:\Clients\Ministry of Health\HepC\06 Development\In Progress\content\#src\Copy of 3080-audio-loader\LIBRARY\

    creating: Z:\Clients\Ministry of Health\HepC\06 Development\In Progress\content\#src\Copy of 3080-audio-loader\META-INF\

    Extracting DOMDocument.xml

    CRC check failed

    Error: Unable to extract "Z:\Clients\Ministry of Health\HepC\06 Development\In Progress\content\#src\Copy of 3080-audio-loader\DOMDocument.xml".

    The size of the extracted file (44096) does not match the uncompressed size (44019) recorded in the Zip file

    Extracting metadata.xml

    Extracting PublishSettings.xml

    Extracting MobileSettings.xml

    Extracting block.xml

    Extracting feedback.xml

    Extracting mc.xml

    Extracting SymDepend.cache

    Extracting video-loader.xfl

    Extracting audio-loader.xfl

    Extracting btn_play.xml

    Extracting btn_vol.xml

    Extracting profile.xml

    Extracting profiles.xml

    Extracting ctrl.xml

    Extracting border_shadow.xml

    Extracting M 1 1280807393.dat

    Extracting icon_aware.gif

    Extracting border.xml

    Extracting 3080-audio-loader.xfl

    Extracting mimetype

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    Sep 21, 2010 8:18 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    Guess what. I just randomly stumbled upon this thread when my gf was experiencing problems with a .fla file created in Adobe Flash CS 5, on a Windows 7 64bit machine, which for no apparent reason started throwing the "Unexpected file format" error.


    Some guy before me suggested that the file is indeed just a renamed archive (.zip)...

    So... I renamed the file to [filename].zip, opened it in winrar and pressed ALT + R (tools -> Repair archive) after the winrar process had thrown an "Unexpected end of archive" error.

    It then created a file named rebuild.[filename].zip, which i just renamed to rebuilt.[filename].fla and...


    Presto! It works perfectly in Adobe Flash CS5 again.


    I hope this information will be able to solve further problems for people with corrupted .fla files.

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    Dec 11, 2010 11:52 AM   in reply to Wertisdk1

    Hey Wertisdk1! I tried your ways with my particular corrupt fla. It didn't really worked, but it gave me a good idea, which in the end led me to recovering at least half of my "lost" work. 2 Days of hard frame by frame animation was in risk! Thanks!



    So here's what I did, perhaps it can help some one. Took me a few tests and tries but in the end it was good. You can recover your lost SYMBOLS. Its a way of getting back all your project library into a new flash file. It goes like this:


    1) I opened my corrupt fla file using Winrar. It shows a couple of folders and a few XML files, that can and will be opened later using notepad or word or whatever text editor.


    2) I extracted all those files into a new folder with the name of my corrupted file. eg: c:\documents\corrupted.


    3) Once 'decompressed', I opened the LIBRARY folder (eg: c:\documentscorrupted\LIBRARY\), in which all the symbols in my corrupted project are apparently stored as xml's. I backuped this files for later. This are my original symbols I want to be restored.


    4) In Flash CS5, I started a new project, exactly the same size and specs of the corrupted one. Create a symbol in it and name it with some name you can remember, like recovery. Just any symbol, a graphic or a movie clip, whatever.


    5) Once the project looked exactly as if I was going to start drawing all over again, I saved the file, with a new name eg: correputed_file_NEW.fla


    6) I go and open this new 'correputed_file_NEW.fla' using again WINRAR and once again uncompress the whole fla into a new folder. eg: c:\documents\corrupted_file_NEW\

    7) Go to that folder and open DOMDocument.XML using notepad, dreamweaver or whatever text reader you have. You'll see a long HTML code. Focus on the 7th or 8th line, you'll see <symbols> and then a list of the symbols in your fla, which in this case would only be that "recovery" we just created.


              <Include href="recovery.xml" itemIcon="1" loadImmediate="false"/>



    Also, in the Folder you have your correspondent LIBRARY folder, in wich you'll see 'recovery.xml' (c:\documents\corrupted_file_NEW\LIBRARY\)


    8) Now its time to get your backup symbols from the corrupted file, the symbols I want to restore, and copy them into the Library folder of my "correputed_file_NEW.fla" (c:\documents\corrupted_file_NEW\LIBRARY\), without deleting 'recovery.xml'.

    9) Go back to DOMDocument.XML on your text editor. Now you need to add the name of every symbol restored. The same way you see here (recovery files named bass1, bass2 and so on):


              <Include href="recovery.xml" itemIcon="1" loadImmediate="false"/>
              <Include href="bass1.xml" itemIcon="1" loadImmediate="false"/>
              <Include href="bass2.xml" itemIcon="1" loadImmediate="false"/>


    Once done, Save changes on DOMDocument.XML


    10) Goto the folder c:\documents\corrupted_file_NEW\, select all this files and folders and "compile" them again using Winrar. This is done by selecting them all, right click and "add to archive..." OR straight from Winrar, look for the files, highlight them and click on 'ADD'.


    11) Name your file 'recovered project', Choose ZIP as 'File Format'.  MAKE SURE you cahnge the name from 'recovered project.ZIP' to 'recovered project.FLA'.


    12) Click ok and watch your fla get compiled again.


    13) Open this new recovered project.fla using Flash and wow!


    In my case, I recovered all the symbols in which layed a lot of the work I almost lost during the file corruption! I still have to start overall the timeline work, but when everything seemed lost, this helped me a lot!




    Sorry for my english, is not my native language. I hope my instructions made sense and I helped out somebody.



    Having a corrupt fla is a pretty horrible thing to have. Specially when you obviously didn't made a backup of the file, obviously! And see with horror hours, days or weeks of work just die... or worse! Stay in coma!


    Good Luck!

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    Mar 15, 2011 7:26 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    the same issue here,
    CS5 crashes and gives a message "UNEXPECTED FILE FORMAT"
    new instal of CS5 on Windows 7 64 bit, good workstation,

    stable network in a hi-tech company

    it doesn't look like a plain corrupeted file, happens too often


    it seems that Flash CS5 is less stable than the previous editions

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    Mar 31, 2011 3:11 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    I had the same Problem and found a solution that works for me.


    First, copy your corrupted FLA into a new folder. Rename your FLA to [Your File].zip. Then Open that ZIP File with WinRAR and press Alt + R to repair the Archive. Extract the content of the fixed new ZIP file into another folder.

    Now, open the "DOMDocument.xml" in Safari. In my case, Safari throws a XML Error. I opened that XML with an Editor and found a non UTF-8 Char at the Line where Safari throwed the error. I deleted that Char, saved the XML and opened the XFL File. Everything works fine.


    Where did that non UTF-8 Char came from? In my case, i copied same Text from Powerpoint into a component property field. And everybody should know, that copied text from MS Products comes with a lot of garbage, that nobody needs. Flash saves your texts with that garbage in a xml and your FLA is coruppted.

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    Aug 22, 2011 4:36 PM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    Maybe this can be useful to someone.


    There are two patches for Flash CS5 which corrects that bug here:

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    Aug 27, 2011 8:05 PM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    :SOLUTION: Windows 7



    Go to C:\Users\YOURUSERl\AppData\Local\Adobe\Flash CS5.5\en_US\Configuration

    This place have some .FLA named TMPsgv1zqm92r or something.


    Open ALL and find your pretty .FLA untouchable!


    Then save and backup! and BE HAPPY

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    Sep 15, 2011 3:29 PM   in reply to rangel6693s983

    Hi All,


    Today we have released  Flash CS5.5  update . This update contains fixes for opening and saving some Flash  Professional files (FLAs) in CS5.5, and other bug fixes.
    Please download  Flash CS5.5 updater .

    You Can download from  Flash > Help > Updates .



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    Nov 3, 2011 3:34 PM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    Had the same problem, however using tips included in above posts I managed to work out a way to recover content of corrupt .fla files:


    1. Open WinRAR
    2. Select the *.fla file and click the "Repair" button and choose to treat the archive as a .zip file
    3. WinRAR created rebuilt.*.fla file. Open it.
    4. The file seems to work now, but generating swf may not work. From here you can just copy/paste the clips and code to new, empty document.

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    Mar 8, 2012 7:13 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    Dear all,


    I know that this is an old topic; however we are having a major issue with this.

    Our version of Flash is fully up to date with the latest patch


    Yes we are using this software in a network environment and are saving to a network location. However we have started to save to memory pens which also seem to fall to this bug or design fault within Flash.


    From being an educational establishment for security reasons giving students access to the actual computer is not advisable.

    Is adobe going to look at making flash and other products more suitable working in a network environment? As you can imagine we are training our students to use your software now so that when they leave they are adapt and confident to continue using your software!


    Has anyone found a work around for this issue?


    We are thinking of deploying a virtual hard disk that the students can access which will be stored locally on each computer.

    Will this help resolve this issue or get around it?

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    Mar 26, 2012 6:33 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    I'm also still having the same problem here...

    If this program is on a beta version why it was released?!?!

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    May 9, 2012 6:08 AM   in reply to vipertorc5150

    I have just recovered a file for one of our students.


    If you are running Windows, rename the file from something.fla to


    Download this program and repair the zip file.


    Then rename to recovered-something.fla and it should now open.

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    Jul 26, 2012 1:01 AM   in reply to Soulshoes

    Hi ,


    I have written a blog post concerning Unexpected File Format issue , could you please see if the updater fixes the problems for you.


    Thanks and regards,

    Sudeshna Sarkar

    Adobe Flash Professional Team.

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    Sep 28, 2012 2:53 AM   in reply to Sukhi12

    I am having the same problem. The zip repair solution did not work and the update doesn't work because I am using CS5 (not CS5.5).


    I created my fla file yesterday - it's a simple drawing, was working on it today tried to save it and it wouldn't save - I tried saving to a different place - still wouldn't save. I closed it down and tried to reopen and have not been able to open ever since (I get the 'Unexpected File Format' error). I restarted my machine - installed the CS5 update, tried the zip repair solution.


    Any other suggestions?

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    May 27, 2013 11:49 AM   in reply to traceypee

    Hello Everyone.  This is a very common problem with Flash Professional, even in the fully updated CS6.  For starters use version control or create a second copy of your FLA using 'save as.'  That is not a fix but a future measure for you to employ.


    As for your question, I hope you tested the FLA.  If you did, you will have a SWF file in the folder of your FLA.  It may also show up as an HTML file when you look at it.  Anyway, download SoThink decompiler from here:

    Go on YouTube and find out how to use it.  It is very easy.


    Next, download JPEXS free decompiler from here:  . 


    Decomplile the SWF in a new folder and retrieve your FLA.  Sothink will give you a very ugly FLA with like 40 frame layers (even if you only had three).  JPEXS will retrieve your actionscript (except for timeline code which, I am sorry to say, may be lost forever). 


    I hope this will make it easier for you to recover your work and get back on track.  I also had to learn this the hard way when I ran into the ubiquitous "Unexpected file format" error.  I hope Adobe will fix this.


    You can copy and paste timeline code into notepad and save it just in case as well.


    Hope this helps and good luck!

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