The Rapid Elearning Blog

convert Flash to HTML5

Many of you have to convert old Flash courses to HTML5. All you have is the published course but not the original source files. It’s easy enough to extract the media (like images and video) from the published output. But adding text from the old course isn’t as easy because most Flash courses don’t allow selecting text to copy and paste. And who wants to spend hours retyping the text?

Here are a couple of simple ways to copy the text from old Flash e-learning courses that you can add to updated HTML5 e-learning courses without having to retype everything. This works whether you’re using Storyline or Rise.

Use OneNote to Convert Text from Image for Flash to HTML5 Courses

Use OneNote OCR to copy text from image for e-learning

Many of you have OneNote. It’s a great application included in the Microsoft Office products. OneNote has a screen capture feature and the option to copy text from the captured image.

  • Play the old Flash-based course and capture screens using OneNote’s screen clipping feature (or insert an image captured from some other application).
  • Right-click on the image to copy text from the picture.
  • Once you have the text copied, paste into your new slide.
  • Watch the tutorial on YouTube.

Use ShareX to Convert Text from Images for Flash to HTML5 Courses

ShareX is free and works great. I use it quite a bit to do screenshots for uploading to various image sites. It also has an OCR feature where it can pull text from an image that can be copied and pasted into a new slide.

OCR e-learning

  • Choose text capture (OCR).
  • Select the course slide.
  • ShareX extracts the text from the image.
  • Copy and paste the text into the new slide.
  • Watch the tutorial on YouTube.

Those are two free to low-cost options to quickly get the text from previous e-learning courses.  Many of you already own OneNote, and if you don’t, you can always use the free ShareX application to do your screen grabs and OCR text conversion. Once you have the text, it’s easy enough to copy and paste it into your new course.

Obviously, this is still a bit tedious, but it is an easy way to get the text from your old e-learning courses when you no longer have the source files or original content.

I hope that helps.


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12 responses to “How to Copy Text from Flash Courses When You Don’t have the Original File”

January 8th, 2019

Thanks for the ShareX recommendation; I’ll take a look. I’ve used OneNote for converting pictures of text to actual text, but more often use Snagit for that purpose.

Crucial note no matter what application you use: PROOFREAD! OCR is better than it used to be, but it remains cantankerous. It loves to randomly turn “rn” or “nn” into “m,” for example.

This is an absolute LIFESAVER! I am going through this right now. Thank you

Why would we need to convert our old courses to HTML5? Is this something I should be doing with all of our courses?

January 9th, 2019

@Tricia: thanks for the feedback

January 9th, 2019

@Greg: good point on the spellcheck. I mention that in the video, the OCR isn’t 100% perfect, but it does beat retyping things, especially for people like me 🙂

January 9th, 2019

@J: Good question. Most of the old courses are Flash-based which depends on the Flash player. Many browsers (and organizations) no longer support Flash content. Thus old courses need to be converted, if they’re still viable. For this tip, it’s really more for the person who doesn’t have the original source file and needs to rebuild the course. If you have the original source file, you can just republish to HTML5.

Hi Tom,

Save yourself time and export the assets, (images and audio) from the flash .swf using a program like this:

Works like a charm.



January 10th, 2019

@Daniel: Good point. I’m working on a series with different options. Decompilers are a good option and I’ll show in an upcoming post. They’re really good for the media. However, it does require some familiarity with the tool and I find you don’t really save time with the text.

@Tom good point. That decompiler just exports the text in a bunch of separate text files.

I DID just find my favorite free online OCR software program. Check out the scan from image to Word doc!

What version of OneNote are you using? I have a newer version (I think 2016) and “copy text from picture” is not there when I right-click.

January 15th, 2019

@Karen: I have the office 365 subscription, but that’s been a feature in OneNote for quite some time. Here’s a video showing it in 2010.

I just took on a project like this and was planning on typing in all the text so thanks for this.