rg3 / youtube-dl (http://bitbucket.org/rg3/youtube-dl/wiki/)

youtube-dl is a small command-line program for downloading videos from YouTube.com.

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youtube-dl: Download videos from YouTube.com

(and more...)

What is it?

youtube-dl is a small command-line program to download videos from YouTube.com. It requires the Python interpreter, version 2.x (x being at least 4), and it's not platform specific. It should work in your Unix box, in Windows or in Mac OS X. The latest version is 2009.09.08. It's released to the public domain, which means you can modify it, redistribute it or use it however you like.

I'll try to keep it updated if YouTube.com changes the way you access their videos. After all, it's a simple and short program. However, I can't guarantee anything. If you detect it stops working, check for new versions and/or inform me about the problem, indicating the program version you are using. If the program stops working and I can't solve the problem but you have a solution, I'd like to know it. If that happens and you feel you can maintain the program yourself, tell me. My contact information is at rg03.wordpress.com.

Thanks for all the feedback received so far. I'm glad people find my program useful.

Usage instructions

In Windows, once you have installed the Python interpreter, save the program with the .py extension and put it somewhere in the PATH. Try to follow the guide to install youtube-dl under Windows XP.

In Unix, download it, give it execution permission and copy it to one of the PATH directories (typically, /usr/local/bin).

After that, you should be able to call it from the command line as youtube-dl or youtube-dl.py. I will use youtube-dl in the following examples. Usage instructions are easy. Use youtube-dl followed by a video URL or identifier. Example: youtube-dl "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foobar". The video will be saved to the file foobar.flv in that example. As YouTube.com videos are in Flash Video format, their extension should be flv. In Linux and other unices, video players using a recent version of ffmpeg can play them. That includes MPlayer, VLC, etc. Those two work under Windows and other platforms, but you could also get a specific FLV player of your taste.

If you try to run the program and you receive an error message containing the keyword SyntaxError near the end, it means your Python interpreter is too old.

More usage tips

  • You can change the file name of the video using the -o option, like in youtube-dl -o vid.flv "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foobar". Read the Output template section for more details on this.
  • Some videos require an account to be downloaded, mostly because they're flagged as mature content. You can pass the program a username and password for a YouTube.com account with the -u and -p options, like youtube-dl -u myusername -p mypassword "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foobar".
  • The account data can also be read from the user .netrc file by indicating the -n or --netrc option. The machine name is youtube in that case.
  • The simulate mode (activated with -s or --simulate) can be used to just get the real video URL and use it with a download manager if you prefer that option.
  • The quiet mode (activated with -q or --quiet) can be used to supress all output messages. This allows, in systems featuring /dev/stdout and other similar special files, outputting the video data to standard output in order to pipe it to another program without interferences.
  • The program can be told to simply print the final video URL to standard output using the -g or --get-url option.
  • In a similar line, the -e or --get-title option tells the program to print the video title.
  • The default filename is video_id.flv. But you can also use the video title in the filename with the -t or --title option, or preserve the literal title in the filename with the -l or --literal option.
  • You can make the program append &fmt=something to the URL by using the -f or --format option. This makes it possible to download high quality versions of the videos when available.
  • The -b or --best-quality option can be used to download the highest available quality version of any given video.
  • The -m or --mobile-version option is an alias for -f 17.
  • The -d or --high-def option is an alias for -f 22.
  • Normally, the program will stop on the first error, but you can tell it to attempt to download every video with the -i or --ignore-errors option.
  • The -a or --batch-file option lets you specify a file to read URLs from. The file must contain one URL per line.
  • The program can be told not to overwrite existing files using the -w or --no-overwrites option.
  • It can be told to attempt to continue interrupted downloads with the -c or --continue option.
  • For YouTube, you can also use the URL of a playlist, and it will download all the videos in that playlist.
  • For YouTube, you can also use the special word ytsearch to download search results. With ytsearch it will download the first search result. With ytsearchN, where N is a number, it will download the first N results. With ytsearchall it will download every result for that search. In most systems you'll need to use quotes for multiple words. Example: youtube-dl "ytsearch3:cute kittens".
  • youtube-dl honors the http_proxy environment variable if you want to use a proxy. Set it to something like http://proxy.example.com:8080, and do not leave the http:// prefix out.
  • You can get the program version by calling it as youtube-dl -v or youtube-dl --version.
  • For usage instructions, use youtube-dl -h or youtube-dl --help.
  • You can cancel the program at any time pressing Ctrl+C. It may print some error lines saying something about KeyboardInterrupt. That's ok.

Download it

Note that if you directly click on these hyperlinks, your web browser will most likely display the program contents. It's usually better to right-click on it and choose the appropriate option, normally called Save Target As or Save Link As, depending on the web browser you are using.


  • MD5: 20cea81ea926e62f1cfc1a135c40ea07
  • SHA1: 49e19de9b5e549364a5841e3db67672a7e98ebd3
  • SHA256: 402d150af690b9f8b37a75ec7f3ff662100fe282a1f8c1ae80a7fb0ae1c79b09

Output template

The -o option allows users to indicate a template for the output file names. The basic usage is not to set any template arguments when downloading a single file, like in youtube-dl -o funny_video.flv "http://some/video". However, it may contain special sequences that will be replaced when downloading each video. The special sequences have the format %(NAME)s. To clarify, that's a percent symbol followed by a name in parenthesis, followed by a lowercase S. Allowed names are:

  • id: The sequence will be replaced by the video identifier.
  • url: The sequence will be replaced by the video URL.
  • uploader: The sequence will be replaced by the nickname of the person who uploaded the video.
  • title: The sequence will be replaced by the literal video title.
  • stitle: The sequence will be replaced by a simplified video title, restricted to alphanumeric characters and dashes.
  • ext: The sequence will be replaced by the appropriate extension (like flv or mp4).
  • epoch: The sequence will be replaced by the Unix epoch when creating the file.

As you may have guessed, the default template is %(id)s.%(ext)s. When some command line options are used, it's replaced by other templates like %(title)s-%(id)s.%(ext)s. You can specify your own.


  • Ricardo Garcia Gonzalez: program core, YouTube.com InfoExtractor, metacafe.com InfoExtractor and YouTube playlist InfoExtractor.
  • Danny Colligan: YouTube search InfoExtractor, ideas and patches.
  • Many other people contributing patches, code, ideas and kind messages. Too many to be listed here. You know who you are. Thank you very much.

Copyright © 2006-2009 Ricardo Garcia Gonzalez