I do a some video stuff and have multiple YouTube accounts (and tons of accounts for other video sharing web sites). I even have one just for the content related to this blog and web site, my YouTube account SACReleases here.
Because of my activities in that area I am getting from time to time personal emails from people who want to use a video offline for something and ask me if I would send it to them. I kind of got tired of explaining the same stuff over and over again and decided to write a blog post about the subject instead.
Videos on YouTube and other video sharing sites can be downloaded in most cases without the need for jumping through too many hoops. There are exceptions, but I will address those as well. Getting the video down to your hard disk is usually the least of the problem. In most cases do you already have the video on your hard disk, you just don’t know it and also not where you can find it.
Your web browser was probably caching the video and saved it in its temporary folder for some time, which depends on your individual browser settings.
However, getting to this cached video is a bit cumbersome, but I will explain it as the last option anyway. This option does not cost any money and no software installation is needed. With some experience is this method also the faster one, compared to others that are also free and do not require the installation of any software. The option has another catch and that is the problem that the downloaded video is probably in Adobe’s Flash Video format, which is great for viewing on the web, but isn’t much usable anywhere else. Chances are that any editing software that you might own or downloaded (there is plenty of free stuff available too) does not support the FLV Flash video format. That means that you need to convert the video to a more practical, which is not possible without some special (and usually commercial) tools.
Some folks asked me for the video that they can embed it into a Microsoft Power Point presentation. Flash Videos cannot be used in Power Point. I just wanted to mention that.
Option 1 – Online Downloaders
This option is probably the best one for the occasional video downloader, like the one who wants to use a video in a Power Point presentation or something like that.
The good thing is that this option does not require any downloads and installation of software on your computer. It is also free, which is always nice.
There are plenty of web sites out there that let you download and convert a video, by simply providing a link to the video at the video sharing web site.
The conversion on the services end and the download that follows might take a bit of time, some services also have limits for the length of the video they download. Also, the service must explicitly support a specific video sharing web site. Pretty much all of them support YouTube, but beyond that, things do not look as good anymore. Here a few of those online downloader’s to choose from.
Supports conversion of Flash Video / FLV file to MPEG4 (AVI/MOV/MP4/MP3/3GP) file online. On that site, enter into the text box in the middle of the page the URL, such as: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HbbUgHNM8Q
Press “Start” (the default format to save the video should be .avi). It may take a while to do the download and conversion. Vixy.net also offers now a desktop video downloader for Windows PC and MAC OS users available for download on their web site.
YouConvertIt.com is an online tool with many features beyond the simple downloading of videos from video sharing web sites like YouTube. It is able to convert hundreds of different video, audio, image, document and archive formats to make it a useful tool whenever you need to be able to convert a file that you receive from somebody else in a format that you cannot handle to something that you can work with.
You can upload files from your hard disk to YouConvertIt.com for conversion. If the conversion takes a little bit longer, no problem, because you do not have to stick around until it is done. Simply provide your email address and YouConvertIt will send you an email notification with download LINK to receive the converted file once it is done.
The video downloader is as simple as it can be. You just copy and paste the URL to the video on YouTube or any other popular video sharing site and YouConvertIt will extract the video file for you and if you like to, also converts it into one of the many available video formats that might better suit your needs. Also here, you have the option to provide your email address to receive a notification when the downloaded and converted video file is ready for you to download.
Here is a list of the supported file formats, to give you a better idea about the versatility of this free online tool.
AUDIO Formats: AAC (Advanced Audio Coding File), AIF (Audio Interchange File Format), AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format), MP3 (MPEG Audio Layer 3), OGG (Ogg Vorbis Codec Compressed Multimedia File), RA (Real Audio Sound),WAV (Windows Waveform Sound),WMA (Windows Media Audio)
VIDEO Formats: 3GP (3GP Video File), ASF (Advanced Systems Format Media), AVI (Microsoft Video for Windows Movie), FLV (Flash Video File), IVR (Internet Video Record File), MOV (QuickTime Movie), MP4 (Mpeg-4 Video)
MPEG (MPEG Video File), MPG (MPEG Video File), RM (RealMedia File), RV (Real Video File),SWF (Shockwave Flash), WMV (Windows Media Video)
DOCUMENT Formats: CSV (Text CSV), DOC (Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP), EPDF (Encapsulated Portable Document Format), EPI (Encapsulated PostScript Interchange format), EPS (Adobe Encapsulated PostScript), EPS2 (Adobe Level II Encapsulated PostScript), EPS3 (Adobe Level III Encapsulated PostScript), EPSF (Encapsulated PostScript), EPSI (Adobe Encapsulated PostScript Interchange format), EPT (Encapsulated PostScript Interchange TIFF Preview), HTM (HyperText Markup Language), HTML (HyperText Markup Language), INFO (UNIX GNU Info Reader File), ODG (OpenDocument Drawing),ODP (OpenDocument Presentation), ODS (OpenDocument Spreadsheet), ODT (OpenDocument Text), OTG (OpenDocument Drawing Template), OTP (OpenDocument Presentation Template), OTS (OpenDocument Spreadsheet Template), OTT (OpenDocument Text Template), PDF (PDF-Portable Document Format), POT (Microsoft PowerPoint 97/2000/XP Template), PPT (Microsoft PowerPoint 97/2000/XP), PS (Adobe PostScript file), PS2 (Adobe Level II PostScript file), PS3 (Adobe Level III PostScript file), PSD (Photoshop Format), RTF (Rich Text Format), SDA (StarDraw 5.0), SDC (StarCalc 5.0), SDW (StarWriter),SHTML (Hypertext Markup Language client-side image map), STC (OpenOffice.og 1.0 Spreadsheet Template), STI (OpenOffice.org 1.0 Presentation Template), STW (OpenOffice.og 1.0 Text Document Template), SVM (SVM – StarView Metafile), SXC (OpenOffice.org 1.0 Spreadsheet), SXD (OpenOffice.org 1.0 Drawing), SXI (OpenOffice 1.0 Presentation), SXW (OpenOffice.og 1.0 Text Document), TXT (TEXT), VOR (StarWriter 5.0 Template), XHTML (XHTML), XLS (Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP), XLT (Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP Template)
IMAGE Formats: ART (PFS: 1st Publisher), AVS (AVS X image), BMP (Windows OS/2 Bitmap Graphics),CIN (Kodak Cineon Bitmap File), CUR (Microsoft Cursor Icon), CUT (DR Halo), DCM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) ), DCX (ZSoft IBM PC multi-page Paintbrush image),DIB (Microsoft Windows Device Independent Bitmap), DPX (Digital Moving Picture Exchange), EMF (Extended (Enhanced) Windows Metafile Format), EXIF (Exif digital camera binary data), FAX (Group 3 TIFF), FITS (Flexible Image Transport System), GIF (Graphic Interchange Format), GRAY (Raw Gray Samples), ICB (Truevision Targa image (ICB)), ICO (Windows Icon), ICON (Windows Icon), JNG (JPEG Network Graphic Bitmap), JP2 (JPEG-2000 JP2 File), JPC (JPEG-2000 Code Stream Bitmap), JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group JFIF format (62)), JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group JFIF format), MIFF (Magick image file format), MNG (Multi-image Network Graphic Animation),MONO (Bi-level bitmap in least-significant-byte first order), MPC (Magick Persistent Cache image file format), MSL (Magick Scripting Language), MTV (MTV Raytracing image format), MVG (Magick Vector Graphics),OTB (On-the-air Bitmap), P7 (Xv`s Visual Schnauzer thumbnail format), PALM (Palm pixmap), PBM (UNIX Portable Bitmap Graphic), PCD (Photo-CD Image), PCDS (Photo-CD Image), PCL (HP Page Control Language), PCX (ZSoft IBM PC Paintbrush file), PDB (Palm Database ImageViewer Format), PFA (Postscript Type 1 font (ASCII)), PFB (Postscript Type 1 font (binary)), PGM (Portable graymap format (gray scale)), PICON (Personal Icon), PICT (Macintosh Quickdraw/PICT Drawing), PIX (Alias/Wavefront RLE image format), PNG (Portable (Public) Network Graphic), PNM (PBM Portable Any Map Graphic Bitmap), PPM (Portable pixmap format (color)), PTIF (Pyramid encoded TIFF), PWP (Seattle File Works multi-image file), RLA (Alias/Wavefront image file), RLE (Utah Run length encoded image file), SGI (Irix RGB image), SUN (SUN Rasterfile), TGA (Truevision Targa image (TGA)),THUMBNAIL (Thumbnail), TIF (Tagged Image Format File), TIFF (Tagged Image Format File), TIM (PSX TIM file), UYVY (Interleaved YUV Raw Image), VDA (Truevision Targa image (VDA)), VICAR (VICAR rasterfile format), VIFF (Khoros Visualization Image File Format)
WBMP (Wireless Bitmap File Format), WMF (Windows Metafile), WPG (Word Perfect Graphics File), XBM (X Windows system bitmap, black and white only), XCF (GIMP image), XPM (X Windows system pixmap), XWD (X Windows system window dump), YUV (Color Space Pixel Format)
ARCHIVE Formats: 7Z (7Z File), ACE (ACE File), ARJ (ARJ File), BZ2 (BZ2 File), BZA (BZA File), CAB (CAB File), GZ (GZ File), RAR (RAR File), TAR (TAR File), TGZ (TGZ File), YZ1 (YZ1 File), ZIP (ZIP File)
Available in English, Spanish, German and Japanese
Download and convert videos and other documents from other web sites or from your local hard disk. 100 MB file size limit for the free version. Supported file formats:
- Image formats: bmp , gif , ico , jpg , pcx , png , tga , tiff , wbmp , wmf;
- Doc formats: csv , doc , docx , html , odp , ods , odt , pcx , pdf , ppt , pptx , ps , pub , rtf , txt , wpd , wps , xls , xlsx , xml;
- Music formats: aac , ac3 , flac , m4a , mmf , mp3 , ogg , ra , ram , wav , wma;
- Video formats: 3gp , 3g2 , avi , flv , gvi , iphone , ipod , m4v , mov , mp4 , mpg , ogg , rm , rmvb , vob , wmv;
- Other formats: 7z , tar.bz2 , cab , lzh , rar , tar , tar.gz , yz1 , zip
Offers file storage and sharing service (not free), starting at $7 per month for 5 GB. Paid accounts also increase the number of possible concurrent conversions and the maximum file size.
Bad: opens multiple pop-ups
Online file converter/downloader/file hosting with advanced settings, such as resizing, or splitting into smaller pieces for video files. Available in almost 20 languages.
Supports even more formats than Zamzar. Some good info’s about which cell phones support which formats. Conversion of files on your hard drive or on the web, requiring the URL of the source document. Maximum file size is 150 MB. Free and anonymous file hosting is also provided. Files are kept for 120 days and will then be deleted. You can even upload uncompressed documents and have media-convert compress it for you with the tool of your choice, e.g. ZIP, RAR, LZH etc.
Bad: User interface is confusing, especially for non-tech savvy users
Other Online Tools/Services
There are tons of other sites out there that do this. Some even offer code or widgets for other webmasters and bloggers to add to their sites that they can offer video downloads from popular video sharing web sites.
Option 2 – Desktop Downloader (recommended)
You can also download a PC based tool here, which does the same like the online tool, but on your own computer. You might want to do that for the future, in case you need to download another video one day or if download videos frequently. As their online counterpart, these downloader tools are limited regarding the video sharing web sites they support to download videos from.
Win XP, Vista, Mac (Intel/PPC)
The desktop tool saves automatically the downloaded video with a random file name on your windows desktop. You can move it via windows explorer somewhere else or use it from right there with MS Power Point or any other application that you are using for your school presentation.
Vixy.net also offers a downloader for Windows PC and MAC OS for free download from their web site.
Some commercial converters come with video downloader plug-ins for IE and/or FireFox as a bonus, such as the “Sothink Web Video Downloader for FireFox” or “Moyea Flash Downloader Plug-In for Internet Explorer”.
If you want to get videos downloaded to your local hard drive that are beyond the ability of the regular download scripts and desktop tools, I recommend to use some more serious tools, such as stream rippers/downloaders.
With them is it even possible to download a video where you do not know the URL to the video, because the video is streamed from a different specialized video streaming server and the web site where you watch the video does not actually host physical video files and only relays a real-time video stream to the user at the time of the request. In that case, nothing is even stored in you local browser cache.
For example video sharing sites like Ustream.tv use this method. The best and really working stream rippers are not available for free, except for a few days trial period where you can test the software before you have to decide, if you want to buy it or not.
Jaksta Stream Recorder ($35)
WM Recorder by Alex Urich, published via Applian Technologies
Replay Media Catcher ($39.95)
Replay Media Catcher by Applian Technologies
Option 3 – Browser Plug-In Scripts
A kind of “in between” solution is the use of special browser plug-ins and user scripts, if your web browser supports one or the other. Mozilla FireFox users have probably the most options and choices available to them, but there are also some solutions for Microsoft Internet Explorer.
One problem with all of those solution is the lack of video conversion. You get easily to the video in Flash format, but that’s about it. If you want to use the video in another application, manual conversion, using third party conversion tools will be necessary. If this is not a problem and you just want to be able to watch the videos without being connected to the Internet or only have a slow connection. You can keep the Flash files as you downloaded them and use a free desktop Flash movie player to watch the movies when you feel like it. For example the GodLikeMouse (GLM) Flash Video Player http://glm-flv.sourceforge.net/
FireFox has a plug-in called Grease Monkey Script for Mozilla FireFox. This Plug-in allows the execution of custom User Scripts, which are plenty available for all kinds of purposes, including downloading of videos from video sharing web sites like YouTube.
Here is a screen shot that shows the FireFox browser with installed Grease Monkey plug-in and some downloader scripts running, while I was accessing a video page at YouTube.com.
Real Player Download Plug-in (IE Users)
I am not a fan of Real Player, because of all the unwanted ballast that they try to force down your throat, but once you declined all the unnecessary junk, one feature of the current version of the player comes in very handy for Microsoft Internet Explorer users. Real Player installs a browser plug-in that detects videos in web pages, not only YouTube, pretty much any page that has a video embedded, Macromedia (Adobe) Flash, Apple QuickTime, Windows Media etc. See the screen shot below that shows the Real Player plug-in in action. Straight forward and simple to use. The video format depends on the source video on the web site. It is most of the time Flash, so you still have the problem of possible conversion, if you want to use the video for something else than just viewing.
Option 4 – Browser Cache
The old fashioned and most painful way… but most of the time working also.
I demonstrate how it works with Internet Explorer. It’s also possible with Google Chrome. I don’t know if it is that simple with Mozilla Firefox and I didn’t try it with other browsers like Apple’s Safari browser or Opera.
The following steps only work for Windows XP users with Microsoft Internet Explorer.
- Locate your user directory under the “Documents and Settings” directory on your local hard disk. The default location is usually C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME. USERNAME could be just your Windows login user name plus maybe followed by “.” and either the computer name or the domain name, if you are part of a business network.
- Every user has a directory called “Local Settings” under its user directory, but the video file for the video file that you just watched is only cached under your own user. Select the “Local Settings” folder and then the folder “Temporary Internet Files” below that.
Note: In order to be able to “see” those folders in Windows Explorer, you must have enabled the option “Show hidden files and folders” under “Tools\Folder Options”, “View” Tab and Node: “Files and Folders” in Windows Explorer (thanks to the person who pointed that out to me in the blog comments).
- You can only find the cached video file in this directory, if the browser downloaded it entirely. Watch the whole video on the web site first, if you want to make sure that the browser had the chance to cache the whole thing. Web video players usually indicate via a separate progress bar, who much of the video they have cached, next to the play progress bar.
- A regular windows file name does not allow characters like “?” in the name. For that reason does Windows Explorer use only the part before the ? as the file name in the target directory. “get_video“, then it usually adds “” to it, but no file extension. Press F2 to rename the file and enter at the end of the new name .FLV as the file extension.
Click Image to enlarge!
Note for Microsoft Vista users: The “Temporary Internet Files” folder is not as easy accessible as under Windows XP, even if you have “Administrator” rights and the Windows Explorer option “Show hidden files and folders” enabled. If you know the user name that you were using to login to MS Vista, go to the Address Bar in Windows Explorer, right click on it and select “Edit Address”. Enter as address the following: “C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files“, where you must replace USERNAME, with the actual user name that you are logged into MS Vista with.
If you need a good video converter for Flash Video to something else, I recommend Moyea FLV to Video converter, which delivers the best conversion results that I have seen so far. You can try it for free, before you have to decide, if you are going to buy a license for it or not.
Another good converter, which is also a little bit more versatile than the Moyea one is the MP4 Converter by 4Media. The name MP4 Converter is a bit misleading, because the tool can handle a lot more than just videos in MP4 format. You can download the free trial version of the tool here.
That’s it! Happy Video Downloading!
Carsten aka Roy/SAC
Summary of Tools Mentioned in this Post
Online Video Download Tools
Windows Desktop Download Tools
Commercial Windows Stream Recorder/Capture Software
Flash Video Player
- Grease Monkey Script for Mozilla Firefox
- Downloader Grease Monkey Scripts
- Real Player Download Plug-In for IE
Flash Video Converters for Windows