I am using youtube-dl to download some videos from youtube. But when I write:

youtube-dl http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn_YodiJO6k

I get:

[youtube] Setting language
[youtube] rn_YodiJO6k: Downloading video webpage
[youtube] rn_YodiJO6k: Downloading video info webpage
[youtube] rn_YodiJO6k: Extracting video information

ERROR: unable to download video

What am I doing wrong?


3 Answers 3


Same question was asked on unix.stackexchange.com.

Youtube changed something to make it incompatible with youtube-dl, it's been fixed in the latest version. Use the following to update youtube-dl until the package system gets the updated version:

sudo youtube-dl -U


As noted by sup in the comments youtube-dl is patched in Ubuntu to disable the --update option because of security concerns (the bugreport is here). It is also argued in the bugreport that youtube-dl is a moving target, so the version in the repositories is often out of date. This makes easy upgrade a necessity.

Easy upgrade is still possible with e.g. pip. Install like this (you may want to uninstall old versions of youtube-dl first):

sudo pip install youtube_dl

Upgrading can now be done with:

sudo pip install --upgrade youtube_dl

As documented on the youtube-dl download page. Note that similar security concerns are attached to this method as well.

  • 1
    This no longer work: bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/youtube-dl/+bug/1063469 Install a new version from upstream: sudo wget https://yt-dl.org/downloads/2013.11.07/youtube-dl -O /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl (info from here: rg3.github.io/youtube-dl/download.html )
    – sup
    Nov 7, 2013 at 21:41
  • 1
    @sup: I have added a pip alternative which is almost as convenient.
    – Thor
    Nov 8, 2013 at 10:39
  • Cool, only it already is disabled, I edit your answer to reflect it.
    – sup
    Nov 8, 2013 at 21:03

For me the following lines worked:

sudo apt-get remove -y youtube-dl
wget -O - https://yt-dl.org/latest/youtube-dl | sudo tee /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl > /dev/null
sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
hash -r
  • Adding the pip install bin folder to the path could also help.
    – Timo
    Dec 25, 2020 at 21:34

You have to put double quotes (") before and after the URL of the video to make it work. I don't think it's a bug.

For example:

youtube-dl "<video-URL>"
  • This won't solve the issue. Feb 25, 2015 at 17:08

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