This browser does not support video playback.
I've gotten used to switching to a different browser when the above message appears on videos posted on Twitter. Every now and again, though, I get frustrated and spent absolutely ages trying to find a reliable way to get the damn things to play in Firefox or the Firefox-derived Pale Moon, which is my current default browser, but I've never yet had any luck. And the sheer number of search-results leading to other people's attempts to solve the same problem convinces me that it's an extremely common problem.
Proposed solutions generally include all the stuff most of us have already tried before resorting to searching message-boards for answers. Updating flash and enabling or disabling flash or HTML5. Then there's suggestions regarding changing various entries in the about:config page. Some of the discussion gets esoteric to say the least and none of it seems to work. Either you have the problem or you don't, and if you do, it seems that by and large you're stuck with it. So back to opening a second browser then.
Trouble is, opening a second browser can be a little frustrating at times. My computer is definitely getting a little too aged to have too many memory-sucking programs open at the same time, and I've often already got two or three things open, so opening that second browser can be a slow process at best, and actually loading media-heavy web-pages in it can be even worse. And many people, of course, don't even have a second browser.
So anyway, the other day I found a workaround, all on my ownsome. It's ugly as sin, but it does allow you to play the video in a new tab or, if you prefer, download it to play in a desktop media player. (Turns out the actual media-format is only a plain old mp4 file, so almost any browser plug-in for playing video files or desktop-player (I use VLC for both) should handle it. It's Twitter's proprietary player that causes the problem, not the media itself.)
Browsing my Twitter stream, the first video I came across was this one, re-tweeted by William Gibson, so let's use it as an example. It's not a particularly amazing clip, but it'll do for our purposes. (And Gibson's involvement is somewhat apt for this blog, so that's a small plus.)
First, right-click in the video, and then in the
This Frame section of the context-menu, click
View Frame Source.
A window will open, displaying a huge chunk of code. We're looking for the URL of the mp4 file, so hit
Ctrl+F and search for
.mp4. The URL will begin with
https (or possibly in some cases
http), so scan backwards from the
.mp4 term until you find that, and then copy the whole chunk, including those two terms, into a text-editor. You should end up with (for this particular video) this:
And we need to get rid of all those back-slashes, which is why we pasted it into a text editor. In your editor's search/replace thingy, put a back-slash in the
Find box and leave the
Replace With box empty, then hit
Replace All. You should now have a proper URL:
If you want to watch the video in-browser, just copy the cleaned-up URL, open a new tab, paste that into the address-bar and hit
Go (or, of course, press the
Enter key). If you'd prefer to download the video, open the downloads window (
Ctrl+J on a Windows machine) and press
Ctrl+V (right-clicking doesn't work) to paste the URL, and it should automatically start downloading.
And that's all there is to it. As ever with these posts, I hope this has been of use to someone.
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