We have a country-wide ban on YouTube.com, which means that you can't watch or download YouTube content even educational stuff or documentaries. Proxy or VPN are next to unusable for watching or downloading ( the data rates are throttled as soon as the video or download begin ).

I am after a Mozilla add-on or program which would allow me to retrieve only the direct URL to a video on YouTube.

I intend to pass this as a command-line argument to 'wget' running on a remote server which can then download the video.I know this method works, since I have indeed managed to extract the link once or twice and use the 'wget' command on the remote server to get it for me.

I've tried several YouTube downloaders for Firefox and they all want to take over the download themselves which of course will not work.

Also any links you get from the add-ons I tried ( some offer 'Copy Link' options ) are also useless for my intended purpose.

All I need is the link to pass on to a command-line tool such 'curl' or 'wget'.

As usual, thanks in advance for any feedback provided

  • I believe that you require some special cookies and/or headers to be able to download the videos, the link alone is not enough. – bandi May 3 '12 at 11:19
  • You are asking help from community to conduct an illegal activity.This may frustrate it anyway. – beeju May 3 '12 at 12:17
  • Hi beeju, please kindly point out to me what exactly you mean by 'illegal activity'. Maybe it's something I am overlooking. Is it perhaps the case that I am trying to download a YouTube video for viewing off-line - is there a copyright issue that I may have overlooked? Would you be so kind to please advise me of any issues? I value the service provided by the various Stack-Exchange fora I subscribe to and I would do anyhting to show my respect for the community including taking any steps to correct for any mistake or oversight. – darbehdar May 4 '12 at 4:30

There are many Firefox add-ons that allow a user to download a YouTube video for off-line viewing at a later time.

But none seem to allow the user to actually obtain / extract the YouTube URL for the video. This could be useful if one would like to download the video using a command-line tool such as 'wget' for example ( instead of Firefox's own download facility ).

In the above question I was looking for one such Firefox add-on.

I have found one. It is called 'Bulk YouTube Video Downloader' or BYTubeD in short.

This extracts YouTube video URLS and displays a time-stamp together with a validity period ( good for knowing how long you have to access the video via the provided URL ).

I've used it and it works a treat. The only thing is, on my shell ( ZSH ) the extracted URL, if supplied to 'wget' unquoted causes problems. So quote the URL.

Also, I found that you should explicitly provide 'wget' with a valid name under which to save the file ( use the -o flag followed by the filename you whish to give the downloaded video ).

  • Confirmed that the problem exists, only a small amount of data can be downloaded directly, even with vpn, before the download is cut off. Hence the need for the remote server. But how is the download throttled through the vpn? Is it a dns lookup issue? No data should be available through the vpn...I am confirming with a friend who has a 'better' vpn service. – RhZ Oct 7 '12 at 5:00
  • Confirmed that not all vpn services are created equal. Using a standard commercial vpn the timing out happens every single time. With a 'better' vpn the video plays fine, if slow. How is this possible? Somehow some peeking or sniffing is going on... – RhZ Oct 10 '12 at 11:31
  • Perhaps it's HW assisted deep packet inspection. It even affects ssh tunnels. I know of a certain chineese telecom company that supplies HW for exactly this purpouse. – darbehdar Jun 10 '15 at 8:04

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