[Unexpected File Format] Error | Opening Flash files | Flash Professional CS5.5

You may encounter errors when you attempt opening or saving files using Flash Professional CS5.5. This article explains about the errors and Flash CS5.5 updater released to handle such errors.

Firstly, here’s a list of all forum threads that were posted reporting similar issues:

“Flash cannot parse this document” http://forums.adobe.com/message/3564708#3564708
“Failed to open document” error when trying to open file” http://forums.adobe.com/message/3593589#3593589
“An error occurred opening file…” error when trying to open file http://forums.adobe.com/message/3593589#3593589
“Failed to open document” http://forums.adobe.com/message/3603110#3603110
Unexpected File Format. Unable to open a file http://forums.adobe.com/message/3714690#3714690


To address the above problem, Adobe released an updater for Flash Pro CS5.5 (version 11.5.1). This solves the issues related to XFL file corruption.

Adobe Update Description
9/15/2011 – This updater contains fixes for opening and saving some Flash Professional files (FLAs) in CS5.5 and other bug fixes.

Known Issues with the Adobe Updater

• CS5 & CS5.5: symbol saved in XFL format (compressed or uncompressed) is corrupted if its name has special character.
• Window only: XFL Compressed: Data loss when saving to a file with hidden checkbox checked in the Window OS properties dialog.
• Window only: XFL Uncompressed: cannot save fla error when saving .xfl fla with hidden checkbox checked in the Window OS properties dialog.
• (Win Only ) Unable to save a file on Network / desktop once we get unable to save error message while saving a fla to xfl 2nd time.

Recovering the damaged  or corrupt files

  1. Change the extension of .fla to .rar.
  2. Open it using the WinRAR application.
  3. Winrar throws a warning stating that you attempted to open damaged archive, you can safely Ignore the warning.
  4. Go to Tools->Repair Archive. This ensures that the archive and hence, the FLA is repaired.
  5. Change the extension to .fla.

Known issues in Flash Professional CS5.5

Here’s the complete list: http://helpx.adobe.com/flash/kb/known-issues-flash-cs5-5.html

24 Responses to [Unexpected File Format] Error | Opening Flash files | Flash Professional CS5.5

  1. Microcemento says:

    I found the [Unexpected File Format] Error | Opening Flash files, and thought I lost all my job.

    This rar solution worked great

    Thank you so much

  2. Emily says:

    Hi, I have been using flash at university, and have downloaded the trial version at home.

    My project was initially made on CS5, and then changed to CS5.5 and then to CS6. This is because different computers at uni had different software, all on macs.

    I just brought a brand new Macbook Pro and downloaded trial CS6 to work on my project. Despite being on a new computer, flash continues to crash randomly when working on it for some time. This morning when it crashed, I went to reopen it, and received a JavaScript error “Cannot open file”. It says there is a line missing in the file. I tried your .rar or .zip fix and could open my project, but all my symbols and timelines are blank. There is nothing there. Can you help?

    • sudeshna says:

      Hi Emily ,

      The DOMDocument.xml might have somehow got corrupted due to the unexpected crashes. Can you send the crash dump , if somehow that got saved so that we could investigate this issue?


  3. Aslak Sørli says:

    This solution fixed the file… and i am able to open it again… But it completely destroyed my project, i had near hundreds objects in that file, about 25% of them are replaced with white squares now… Any idea how to fix THAT?

  4. Chelsea says:

    I tried this solution, but my file still comes up “Unexpected file format”.

  5. Andre says:

    same to me, i tried repair with rar. but the result still same “an error occurred opening file”
    someone help !

  6. Gabrielle Quilliam says:

    I have CS6, will this work for that also ?

  7. Bernie Kuitu says:

    I read this post fully regarding the comparison of hottest and previous technologies, it’s awesome article.

  8. Munazza says:

    Can someone tell me ,how to delete text in .fla file …i simply select text and press delete .but when i export .fla file to .swf file…page starts blinking and dos not show output.pls help me

  9. Mervin seow says:

    My most problem if in CS6 how to fix it? i have a urgent assignment need to do but it have crashed….i have been done about 80% of work….pls make a solution for me thx

  10. john says:

    the problem not solve again the same error displaying any one can help me
    my lots of file’s corrupted again again im create the new file

  11. Doug Edwards says:

    Lost a lot of work (again) – we had stopped using Flash for this very reason, but i brough it back for this major project. Man, that was stupid!

  12. WW says:

    i have not confirmed whether or not the .rar solution will work, but my files are still being corrupted after this update — i’m using CS3 to avoid the problem.

  13. FMLerraine says:

    I have tried WinRAR and several other things I’ve founded posted, nothing has worked. Can someone please help me? I had EVERYTHING I needed drawn out for an animation project and it’s all gone. Please help!

  14. John Greenwood says:

    I have a student who is suffering from this issue using CS6 with updates. I have tried the above but it still says failed to open document.

  15. SJustice says:

    I am having problems opening an XFL file I created in Flash cS6. I need to get it open to save it asa FLA file.
    Anyone have a suggestion?

  16. Jenn says:

    This just happened to me…I was so unbelievably mad. I tried the suggestion with the .rar file and it didnt fix it. However I went to…. C:\Users\(Name)\AppData\Local\Adobe\Flash CS6\en_US\Configuration
    And found a file that the program automatically saved and it opened the file… I did the .rar suggestion to that just incase… so far so good.

  17. mary ann says:

    I need help in the worst way, when trying to watch any video at all it says that adobe flash has crashed and urges me to update with flash pro and when I try my computer puts up a huge red flag and tells me that pro flash is corrupt and dangerous, what do I do ? please help

  18. nehal says:

    i have ” an error accured opening file ” too and i tried all solution ,but still unable to open plz anone can help???

  19. Radhika says:

    Yesterday I ran into the same problem. I am using Flash CS6 and this is the second time my .fla suddenly decided to to crash whenever I try to open it. This is 10days of hard work and if I need to make any changes to my presentation I would be in deep trouble.

    Is there a place where I can send you my .fla file. I have already tried the CS6 update but it doesn’t work.
    I tried the .zip and renaming method, sadly with no success.

    Please help or else our design department is not using flash anymore!!
    I really want you to have a look at my file!

  20. Bayan Al-Atrash says:

    rar solution not worked for unexpected file format :/

  21. Samuel Pun says:

    Thanks god i have been searching for the solution for so long。 finally i can open the file again. While some information is lost, it is better than nothing!