Downloading YouTube videos on your Mac without fuss or malware

31 October 2015, 06:00

[Edit: See the update for this piece.]

You might think that downloading videos from sites like YouTube would be easy, but there’s a lot of malware out there pretending to be video downloading apps, and several legitimate apps or browser extensions have limitations.

Here’s one solution. It’s a bit clunky and involves using the command-line but it works very well and it’s ultimately simple to use. It’ll even automatically download the high-res versions of the YouTube videos in a nice MP4 format ready for playback in QuickTime Player, or transferring to your iPhone/iPad via iTunes.

Initial setup
Follow these steps to download and install the necessary app, and to update periodically (see below).

  1. Open the Terminal app, which you’ll find in the Utilities folder of the Applications list in Finder.

  2. Paste in the following, which will download the command-line app we need – youtube-dl:
    curl -o ~/youtube-dl

  3. Paste in the following command to actually install the app and make it ready for use – you’ll need to type your login password when prompted:
    sudo mv youtube-dl /usr/local/bin/;sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

Downloading a YouTube (or other site’s) movie
Downloading a movie is now easy.

  1. Go to the webpage of the video and copy the entire URL to the clipboard.

  2. Open Terminal again, type youtube-dl, tap Space, and then paste in the URL. You should end-up with something looking like this:

  3. Watch the progress display as the movie is now downloaded. It’ll be deposited in your home directory, which you can view by opening a Finder window and clicking Go > Home on the menu.

Keeping youtube-dl up to date
Because sites frequently change their layout and video delivery techniques you’ll need to keep youtube-dl up-to-date by repeating the initial setup steps above if you find the app reports an error downloading. Before following the steps above, however, type the following into the Terminal window to remove the old version of the app:

   sudo rm /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

If you want to be very clever and open the movie from the command-line too, just type open, followed by the filename. This will open the movie in the system default movie player which for most of us is QuickTime Player.

youtube-dl is a very sophisticated tool. With a little configuration it can login to password-protected sites, for example. Google for tutorials.

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I’m getting a warning:

WARNING: Improper use of the sudo command could lead to data loss
or the deletion of important system files. Please double-check your
typing when using sudo. Type “man sudo” for more information.

To proceed, enter your password, or type Ctrl-C to abort.

Why is this?

— Harambe · Oct 27, 06:43 AM · #