Which app should I install to download videos from YouTube?

  • Although the ability may exist, I don't know that it's morally acceptable to download videos and circumvent the ad system from google, and the content creator.
    – user508889
    Nov 3, 2016 at 17:07
  • @bc2946088 there is nothing wrong in that and streaming is a kind of download anyway. The point of the question is how to do it (and it's a dupe BTW). Nov 3, 2016 at 17:15
  • I suppose you're right. You could also be using the tool to download videos you're the copyright holder for. I simply wanted to state that someone's use may be nefarious. As for steaming being the same as downloaded content, that's a semantic stretch unless the downloaded content contains DRM such as unskippable commercials, etc... This is here just for whats it's worth, people are free to do what they want to do. Hopefully his question is answered below.
    – user508889
    Nov 3, 2016 at 17:24
  • Do you want the videos entirely or just the audio from them? Because, if the last one applies in your case, then I can give you the solution I use myself on my Ubuntu 16.04... If you don't download YouTube videos on a daily basis, then I think it's useless to complicate yourself with any app be it browser app or Ubuntu app. Just search on Google for the terms "YouTube to mp3" and try those online tools that you'll get in the search results. In my case, the second one in the list does the job very well (I don't remember its name, and I can't give it to you as I am on mobile phone now). Nov 3, 2016 at 17:25
  • @bc2946088 «that's a semantic stretch» not really. It's technically the same thing. Streaming is a download followed by the deletion of the file (or parts thereof) after a certain amount of time (usually seconds or minutes). Nov 3, 2016 at 17:33

3 Answers 3


TOS Violations

There are some programs and tools that exist to do this, but this is against YouTube's TOS.

Section 5.b :

Content is provided to you AS IS. You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these Terms of Service. You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content. You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content. YouTube and its licensors reserve all rights not expressly granted in and to the Service and the Content.

This basically means that unless explicitly stated otherwise, you may not download any content posted on YouTube.

Obviously, basically nobody follows this, but I do feel like I am obligated to inform you that this is, in fact, against their Terms Of Service.

Actual solution

Now that you've been informed of the TOS issues presented when doing this, there is a program that does download YouTube videos. This program is called youtube-dl.

To install it, run

sudo apt-get install youtube-dl

To use it, the syntax looks like

youtube-dl (YouTube-Video-Link)

For example

youtube-dl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

Here's the official documentation.

  • Funny is that I've been once or twice in the situation of breaking YouTube's TOS because I needed to download my own old videos and YouTube didn't (and I think it still doesn't) give to its users any tools for saving their own files. It was like stealing my own hat. And all this just because YouTube has only an "Upload you video" link and not a "Download your video" link also. Nov 3, 2016 at 18:00
  • 1
    @CristianaNicolae It does have a download video link in your upload video dashboard.
    – TheOdd
    Nov 3, 2016 at 18:24
  • @OwenHines - Thanks for the tip! Maybe it's a new feature or maybe I wasn't able at that time to locate it. Whatever reason I might have had, the main thing stays: I had to do a hocus pocus using some online tools in order to get my own stuff. :-) Thanks once again! Nov 3, 2016 at 18:34

sudo apt-get install youtube-dl

This is an extremely feature-full and cross-platform program which can do this and many other variations (e.g. just audio, subtitles, metadata, etc.).

Full documentation is available at the website https://rg3.github.io/youtube-dl/

Note this is a command-line program. There are probably GUI versions, browser plugins, as well as other programs more-platform specific which might not require python. However youtube-dl is considered the "standard" in research community where is it frequently used in machine learning to gather training and test data. I suppose some people use it for other things (note smartphone youtube apps generally have a download for off-line viewing feature now as well).

Please observe all copyright and fair-use conventions, and check the YouTube Terms of Service before downloading.


If you have Firefox, install the addon DownloadHelper. It works on nearly all video platforms.

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