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How to download a youtube video via terminal

There are several Q&A threads that explain how to download youtube videos using the terminal.

However, I would also like to learn how to extract the video's soundtracks as MP3 files--also using only the terminal.

Answers briefly explaining how to use youtube-dl or other similar utilities before explaining how to extract the MP3 would be ideal for the sake of having all the information in one place--even though this aspect has been covered in other posts.

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marked as duplicate by izx, jokerdino, Uri Herrera, stephenmyall, Mitch Aug 25 '12 at 6:32

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

It's close but I think the fact that it is specifically looking for an mp3 makes it different enough. – Jacob Tomlinson Aug 22 '12 at 12:58
You should mark the answer below as accepted. – airstrike Oct 12 '15 at 3:49
In most cases you can download m4a or webm without conversion. This is an interactive script that will let you choose a specific 'rendition' such as audio-only, video-only, etc: youtube-dl -F "$1" ; read -p "Please enter the desired quality # " FORMAT ; youtube-dl -f $FORMAT "$1" – ccpizza Jun 29 at 13:08

You can also download the mp3 directly from youtube without converting using ffmpeg

youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 <video URL>

From the online help:

-x, --extract-audio        convert video files to audio-only files (requires
                           ffmpeg or avconv and ffprobe or avprobe)

Bear in mind as well that youtube-dl defaults to using avconv so you should consider specifying either avconv or FFmpeg at the commandline. From the online help:

--prefer-avconv                  Prefer avconv over ffmpeg for running the
                                 postprocessors (default)
--prefer-ffmpeg                  Prefer ffmpeg over avconv for running the

Further options for keeping the original video, adjusting the bitrate or quality of the audio and a few others can be seen by looking at youtube -h.

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youtube-dl <video URL> --audio-format mp3 does not download me as mp3! – fromnaboo Aug 23 '12 at 10:17
if you look at the man pages, this option tells you you still have to download ffmpeg – user1527227 Feb 18 '14 at 3:10

Downloading from youTube

Install youtube-dl from the official repository in Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install youtube-dl

To download a video execute the following:

youtube-dl <url>



You can also specify other options

-b            Best quality
-m            Mobile version
-d            High Definition
-g            Don’t download, just show the url
-c            Resume download of a video which was interrupted before
-w            Don’t overwrite existing file

For complete list of switches execute man youtube-dl in terminal.

Information from

Converting to mp3

Now install ffmpeg from the official repo.

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg

Next have a look to make sure the flv file has downloaded from youtube by typing

ls *flv

This will list all the flv files you have. What you should see is a flv file with the same name as the 'v' component of the youtube url you downloaded.

E.g if you downloaded then you should have a file called _z-hEyVQDRA.flv

Next you need to copy that file name and then put it in an ffmpg command like

ffmpeg -i <file name>.flv -acodec libmp3lame <song name>.mp3

So for this example you would type

ffmpeg -i _z-hEyVQDRA.flv -acodec libmp3lame MasterOfPuppets.mp3

Once this has successfully completed you will now have the mp3 file you were after.

Note For cleanup you may want to type rm _z-hEyVQDRA.flv to get rid of the flv file that you no longer need.

Information from

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You may want to add converting to mp3 with ffmpeg or aconv. – NRoach44 Aug 22 '12 at 8:13
Updated, thanks – Jacob Tomlinson Aug 22 '12 at 12:53
One more, -acodec liblamemp3 in the ffmpeg command line. – NRoach44 Aug 23 '12 at 1:01
Yes you could force the codec to be sure, I have added this. You could also use -ac 2 -ab 128k to ensure it converts at 128k – Jacob Tomlinson Aug 23 '12 at 10:06
Or just youtube-dl -x "${URL}". – Mathias Bynens Nov 21 '15 at 9:45

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