A few days ago my local .swf files ceased to able to be opened via Opera, Chrome, or Firefox (I refuse to touch Internet Explorer for many reasons). What happens is, regardless of browser, it opens a Save As window as if I'm downloading the file. I've tried using a standalone .swf player, and for a few minutes it worked, but it wasn't a very good program. I tried reinstalling Flash, but now there is no system folder for it. When checking my status, it says that I do not have Flash installed. I can access Flash settings from Control Panel, but again, there's no system folder for Adobe at all.
I'm running Windows 7, and my primary browser is Opera (ver 49.0.2725.39).
I even tried rolling back to an older version of Flash, doing a system restore to the day before things stopped being functional, but nothing is working.
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Yeah, the world is changing. We disabled the ability for a SWF to load other local files by default about a year ago. There's no way to absolutely prevent that content from leaking small amounts of data to the world using clever encoding techniques.
As modern browsers in the US continue to restrict the ability to run Flash Player, most have made it impossible to load a bare SWF, such that you have to have an HTML wrapper, and loading a SWF from the filesystem (file:///) generally doesn't run at all in the latest browser versions. Firefox and Chrome both just throw it in the Downloads folder.
The best way to deal with this is to just run a local webserver and access it that way. You can try and fight the changes, but it's going to be a continual source of pain as the restrictions continue to evolve. There are lots of free, prepackaged options like WAMP/MAMP/XAMP, etc... plus built-in options on Macs, etc.
I'm not sure what the installation issue is all about, but I have to wonder if you're looking in the right spots.
You can check out the Flash Player system administrator's guide for authoritative locations:
You might also check out the installation troubleshooting guide here:
Links to the offline installers are at the bottom of the guide.
I think it's more likely that you're just also running into the browsers click-to-play controls for Flash Player, in which case, these might help: