How To Download Youtube Videos

This guide will show you how to download Youtube videos using Linux so that you can enjoy them offline.

There are many reasons for storing Youtube videos on your hard drive as opposed to leaving them on the web and viewing them online.

If you regularly take the train to work or you travel by plane then you will know that internet access is either sparse or not existent. 

In addition to this if you are watching a series of training videos it is good to know that you aren't reliant on the internet or the fact that the videos might be taken offline by the person who posted them in the first place.

There are a number of tools available for downloading Youtube videos using Linux:

  • youtube-dl - Downloads Videos 
  • ytd-gtk - GUI frontend for youtube-dl
  • clipgrab - Download videos
  • nomnom - Download videos
  • python-pafy - Download videos
  • minitube - Watch Youtube videos from desktop
  • smtube - Watch Youtube videos from desktop

In this guide, I will be covering youtube-dl and ytd-gtk.

Download Youtube videos using youtube-dl is number 11 on the list of 15 Linux Commands That Will Rock Your World.

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Download youtube-dl

Install youtube-dl From Ubuntu Software Centre
Download Youtube Videos Using Ubuntu.

You can download and install youtube-dl by using the relevant package manager for your Linux distribution.

If you are using Ubuntu then you can install youtube-dl from the Ubuntu Software Centre (click here for a guide).

Alternatively, you can use apt-get as follows:

sudo apt-get install youtube-dl

The above command will work for all Ubuntu based distributions including Linux Mint, Elementary OS, and Zorin.

If you are using Fedora or CentOS you can use Yum Extender (click here for a guide).

Alternatively, you can use yum as follows:

yum install youtube-dl

If you are using openSUSE you can use Yast or zypper.

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Download A Video Using youtube-dl

Find A Youtube Video To Download
Find A Youtube Video To Download.

Obviously before you can download a video you need to find the URL of the video you wish to download.

Go to and use the search facility to find a video to download.

Underneath the video, there is a share link. When you click on the share link a URL appears.

Select the text using the mouse and press CTRL and C to copy the URL.

Within a terminal window type youtube-dl and paste the selected text by right clicking in the terminal and choosing paste from the menu.

You should be left with something like this:


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Download And Install ytd-gtk

GUI For Download Youtube Videos Using Linux
GUI For Download Youtube Videos Using Linux.

To download ytd-gtk use the same tool that you used for installing youtube-dl.

You can use the graphical package manager supplied with your distribution such as the Ubuntu Software Centre, Mint Software Manager, Yast, Yum Extender or Synaptic.

Alternatively, use the command line.

For Ubuntu (and its derivatives) type the following:

sudo apt-get install ytd-gtk

For Fedora/CentOS type the following

yum install ytd-gtk

If you are using openSUSE use zypper.

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How To Use The Youtube Downloader

Youtube Downloader
Youtube Downloader For Ubuntu.

You can start the youtube downloader via the command line by typing the following:

ytd-gtk &

(Incidentally the & at the end lets you run a process in the background meaning control is returned to your terminal window).

Alternatively, you can run the youtube downloader by using the menu system for your distribution. 

For example, you can access the Dash within Ubuntu and search for Youtube Downloader and an icon will appear which you can click on to run the application.

The Youtube Downloader has three tabs:

  • Download
  • Preferences
  • Authentication

To download a video paste the URL of the video (use the method shown earlier for finding video links) into the URL box and press the plus symbol next to it.

In the bottom right corner, there is a download icon. Clicking this will start the download process.

A status message will show "In Progress" and a progress bar will appear.

You can create a whole list of videos to download by adding them one by one.

The other icons on the screen fulfill the following functions:

  • Refresh download
  • Pause download
  • Delete download
  • Move download up in queue
  • Move download down in queue
  • Clear list
  • Show/Hide link drop box

The preferences tab is very important because when you click the download link for the first time you might get an error stating the requested format is not available.

The reason for this is that the default video output type in Youtube Downloader is Hi-Def. This format isn't available on all systems.

The preferences tab allows you to change the output format to any of the following types:

  • Hi-Def
  • Mobile
  • flv 240p
  • flv 360p
  • flv 480p
  • mp4 360p
  • mp4 720p

In addition to changing the output format, you can also change the output folder for the videos and supply proxy account details.

The authentication tab lets you enter a username and password for Youtube.

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