Using “youtube-dl”

author: Nathan Acks

You can download video and audio files for offline viewing from a variety of websites using youtube-dl. Be sure to install ffmpeg as well for tagging.

To grab an HD MP4 (720p or the next best larger size), use the following command (works well on YouTube):

youtube-dl \
	--output "%(title)s (%(id)s).%(ext)s" \
	--format "bestvideo[width<=1280][height>540][ext=mp4]+bestaudio[ext=m4a]/bestvideo[width<=1920][height>720][ext=mp4]+bestaudio[ext=m4a]/best[ext=mp4]/best" \
	--add-metadata "$URL"

Useful size specs:

Most of the time, you’ll need a newer version of youtube-dl than is available in your distro’s repos. You can grab the latest youtube-dl source code from GitHub, or alternately install with pip. I prefer to do this in a Python virtual environment, though it still can help to pull in the system package (to ensure that you have all of the right dependencies).

virtualenv youtube-dl
cd youtube-dl
. bin/activate
pip install --upgrade youtube-dl