I’ve noticed recently that many people, even those that aren’t particularly inclined towards tech, have been asking me how to download videos from YouTube. So I thought it might be a good idea to offer some of my favourite ways to do just that.
Obviously, YouTube being the biggest and most popular video sharing website there is, there are a fair few of ways of getting YouTube videos on to your hard drive or portable devices. Some are browser add ons, some are third party websites and some are desktop applications. Recently, more and more musical content has been appearing on the site as well, so I’ve offered my favourite way of getting music from YouTube to your MP3 player or iPod.
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Add-on: Video DownloadHelper
The quickest option for videos is the extremely popular Firefox extension Video DownloadHelper. This add on places a little icon next to your address bar, which becomes animated whenever there is downloadable content available on the web page. You click it, and the video starts downloading. This does not only work on YouTube, you can use it to download videos on many other websites such as Dailymotion and Megavideo, as well us download all the images on the page. Essentially, all it does is find a link to the downloadable file and then give it to Firefox to download normally, but it does that very well and very consistently. The Add on usually downloads in the FLV (flash video) format so you will need a converter or a media player which can play flash video such as VLC.
This add on only works on Firefox, but if all you want to do is get videos from YouTube you can use YouTube Downloader for Google Chrome.
Website/ Music: Bender Converter
I may be cheating here by combining the best ways of downloading music and the best website for downloading videos but I think Bender Converter really is both. It’s well designed and offers many options while being easy to use. First you need to find the video you want to download on YouTube and copy it’s URL (address), and then paste it on to Bender Converter. This is where it comes in to it’s own, as you can then choose the format of the video you download. This means you don’t have to download a video and then find a means of converting the video to play on your portable device. On this site, all the converting is done on an external server, which means it is fast, and you have one less step to deal with. There are many formats available and the website helpfully tells you which formats play on which devices.
The format choice is also important when it comes to downloading music. If you want to download music using the other options, you would have to first download the video and then rip out the audio using another program or just copy the video to your device. However, on Bender Converter, you can choose to convert the video to pure MP3 before downloading, meaning you get a music file which can easily be synced to any MP3 player or iPod. You also get a faster download as the mp3 file will be considerably smaller than any of the video formats.
Desktop: Real Player
I wouldn’t recommend straying far from the browser for your downloading needs, but if you absolutely have to, the best desktop option is Real Player. The latest versions of the enduring media player come with an easy way of downloading web videos. Whenever flash video is playing a rectangle pops up which says ‘Download this video’. Click that, and the video downloads to your Real Player library, from where you can view it or convert it to play on various devices. Real Player is also a great way of organising your entire media collection.
If you are comfortable with a little less hand feeding, you can use the already mentioned VLC media player to download content from YouTube in the format of your choice by ‘Opening a Network Stream’ with the URL if the YouTube Video and then choosing to ‘Save as’ in the desired format.
That concludes my best ways of downloading content from YouTube and other video sharing websites. These methods are for personal use only and should not be used as part of any activity which may be deemed illegal or inappropriate. I hope that sounded serious enough.