Written by: Jesse Stratford
Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Requirements: Flash 5, Windows system.
Topics Covered: fscommand(), start.exe.
Assumed knowledge: Buttons and basic actions.

Flash player changes & their impact upon this tutorial:
Before we begin users should note that Macromedia altered the access EXEC has to the system to prevent malicious coders from causing trouble. Executables must now exist within a specific directory. Read this article at Macromedia's help site for information about where to put your executable in order for it to comply with these security restrictions.

These changes nullify the usefulness of the old version of this tutorial somewhat. The "start" executable which this tutorial relied upon resides in the Windows directory and, as such, can't be made to comply with Macromedia's directory structure security requirements. For Windows systems you can however create a batch file (.bat) which invokes the start executable, then put this batch file in the correct directory. For Mac systems you can use Apple Script in the same manner. Both of these are mentioned at the link Macromedia help article above but not discussed in any detail.

This tutorial covers how to open files such as Word and PDF files. This method will only work on Microsoft Windows® machines (95/98/ME/NT/2K/XP) because it uses the magic start.exe file which MS were so kind to invent. (If you want to launch files on Mac systems try the method described in this thread). It will also only work if the file type you are trying to open is registered on the system - that is to say, it wont open a PDF file if the user doesn't have Acrobat Reader installed or properly configured, so sort that out yourself. So if you want to launch your PDF on a Solaris box with VIM, this aint the tute for you :o)

As the old method this tutorial use to employ no longer works, this tutorial now provides an example of how to us Windows batch file to open files in their native applications. Windows users, grab this Flash MX source file and take a look.

The old version of this tutorial (who's methods cannot be applied in any version of the Flash standalone player above Flash 5) has been moved to the Archives area of the Tutorial section; see the Tutorials index for a link to it if you need it.