Full screen Flash gaming with Swiffout

[widgets_on_pages]While Flash games might not represent the bleeding edge of video-game technology, Flash is an attractive platform for indie games developers and there are hundreds of Flash games around the web that are more than worth your time and attention as a hardcore gamer. When you play Flash games, normally what happens is that they open in a small window within your browser. This is fine for playing a quick game of Robot Unicorn Attack at the office, but what about at home? Trying to play on a tiny little window when you have your big screen PC gaming rig just doesn’t cut it.

Enter Swiffout

If you’ve ever wanted to play Flash games full screen, just like they were regular PC games, then Swiffout is the answer you have been waiting for. A simple browser extension, Swiffout can be downloaded here. Once installed it places a small button on your browsers toolbar. The picture below shows the Swiffout plugin button (circled in red) on my Firefox toolbar:-

Swiffout plugin installed in browser
The Swiffout button

Now, it’s just a matter of hitting that button when you browse to a page with a Flash game. The game should then open up full screen. That’s the theory anyway and for the most part things work pretty well, but read on to find out a little more.

Maximising Swiffout

Using Swiffout is normally easy, but it does have one or two limitations. For best results, wait until the game has loaded completely, then hit the Swiffout button. If the game only opens on a quarter of the screen, press escape and then try again. Disabling your secondary monitor, if connected, may also help but should not be necessary.

Swiffout works by actually bundling the Flash file into another executable and then running that at full screen. This has the benefit of making the game run very smoothly compared to simply resizing the Flash content as it runs on the page. However, there is no way to manually select screen-modes and this can cause some problems. For instance, on my set-up, because I change monitors between the desktop and my TV, Swiffout would choose a resolution that was within my monitors range of screen modes, but unsuitable for my TV. If you have an external video processor such as the DVDO Edge, you can force the screenmode through that. However this is still a less than ideal solution and of course not every PC owner has their rig connected to such a contraption.

A better solution to this problem is a tool called RivaTuner. This utility was designed for tweaking and optimising Nvidia graphics cards. Although it hasn’t been updated since 2009, it still worked on my GTX580 based rig, and allowed me to force Swiffout to choose a suitable refresh rate. You can download the tool by clicking this link. I’ll pop a usage tutorial up in the near future, but it’s not difficult to use if you’re used to working with a PC.

Sadly, because of the way Swiffout works, there are some sites that are simply not compatible. Using Swiffout on Adult Swim, for instance, results in a message telling you that the Flash game is “stolen”. Adult Swim do this to prevent other sites from taking their Flash content and embedding it into another website, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making the content incompatible with Swiffout. Despite this copyright enforcement effort by Adult Swim, you can usually find their better games at other sites too, Robot Unicorn Attack, for instance, is available here. You might need to play one cycle of the game before the music works properly, but then everything will be glorious.

Swiffout and Xpadder

Xpadder is a perfect utility to use in tandem with Swiffout. Using Xpadder you can configure a game controller for pretty much any Flash game you might encounter. Remember that Xpadder can emulate the mouse too, so even if the Flash game needs mouse control to select menu options, you can do that easily in Xpadder and enjoy the game from the comfort of your chair. See our Xpadder overview for more information on this tool.

Saving your favourite games

When you are playing a game with Swiffout, you can right click on the game to bring up a small number of options. One of these options is “create shortcut”. Using this option, you can save a short-cut to your game to the Desktop or Start Menu, meaning you can launch the game directly from the desktop rather than having to open your web browser. You can use this technique to build a library of your favourite Flash games and even launch them from an alternative interface such as GameEx or pretty much any HTPC/emulator front end. Your favourite Flash games could even join your other games in a custom built arcade cabinet! Although, you will still need an internet connection in order to play them.


Swiffout is without doubt the definitive way to enjoy Flash games. Combined with Xpadder too, it’s like getting a perfect full screen conversion of your favourite browser based games. It’s a shame about the occasional incompatibility, but there’s really nothing the author could have done about this. We’d love to see more options for configuring the games screen mode and refresh rate, but apart from this the add-on really is perfect. PC gaming perfectionists need this excellent browser add-on in their lives, so download it now!

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