Download YouTube videos

There are many websites around that allow you to download videos from YouTube. But it’s not possible to do it directly from YouTube. And you end up with a proprietary Flash video file. Although you can install the Flash plug-in on your computer, there are cases when you don’t want to do so or you are even not able to do so.

YouTube without Flash player

So, for whatever reason, you want a video from YouTube on your computer in a file format suitable for any kind of multimedia viewer? Here is a small (15 lines) bash script to download and convert a YouTube video you like in standard MPEG format. For that purpose, you’ll need wget (usually, you already have it on your GNU/Linux box) and ffmpeg.

Now, suppose you want to watch a video about Morris water maze, just look at the URL ( and you’ll see the video ID (y2kJ2Zw9ZgI). Now, copy this ID and choose a proper filename for your file. Simply type “./ y2kJ2Zw9ZgI MorrisWaterMazeVideo” and after a few seconds, you’ll get a file called MorrisWaterMazeVideo.mpeg you can watch with the player you want. 🙂

Note 1: it doesn’t work with all the files on YouTube but almost all of them
Note2: Google Video gives the opportunity to directly download videos in mp4 format (which is standaradized)

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