I am trying to use youtube-dl to download a video from youtube to a directory and this error pops up:

$ youtube-dl -o ~/Videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0YiWsAM0O8
[youtube] P0YiWsAM0O8: Downloading webpage
[youtube] P0YiWsAM0O8: Downloading video info webpage
[youtube] P0YiWsAM0O8: Extracting video information
[youtube] P0YiWsAM0O8: Downloading MPD manifest
WARNING: Your copy of avconv is outdated and unable to properly mux separate video and audio files, youtube-dl will download single file media. Update avconv to version 10-0 or newer to fix this.
ERROR: unable to open for writing: [Errno 21] Is a directory: '/home/sami/Videos

I am running Ubuntu 14.04 and the youtube-dl version 2017.06.05


1 Answer 1


The -o option tells youtube-dl how to format the target path and name of your videos (not only the directory). Kind of counter-intuitive.

From the youtube-dl(1) README or manual:

-o, --output TEMPLATE

Output filename template, see the "OUTPUT TEMPLATE" for all the info

So you need something like:

youtube-dl -o "$HOME/Videos/%(title)s.%(ext)s" 'http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0YiWsAM0O8'

To specify something other than the default of %(title)s-%(id)s.%(ext)s. I am guessing you most likely want to just move into your ~/Videos folder and run youtube-dl with no options there though.

  • 2
    Btw, the default output path pattern is %(title)s-%(id)s.%(ext)s. Jun 9, 2017 at 18:19
  • Thanks for the clarification! I was just quoting from the man page Jun 9, 2017 at 18:21
  • Im using Windows 10 and have the current path pattern %%(playlist)s/%%(chapter_number)02d - %%(chapter)s/%%(playlist_index)02d - %%(title)s.%%(ext)s but still receive the same error. Any idea how to overcome this?
    – Computer
    Aug 7, 2020 at 19:19
  • This doesn't work for me. Even in /tmp and with sudo. Any ideas ? youtube-dl is installed from snap
    – smido
    Jul 29, 2022 at 19:56
  • Nice tune, bro..
    – smido
    Jul 30, 2022 at 21:27

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