Recording YouTube videos using YOUTUBE-DL for free

imageRecently the RIAA made a big stink about an open source tool called “YOUTUBE-DL” which provides people with a free means of downloading YouTube videos.

Google has gone through great lengths to prevent people from downloading videos from YouTube, going so far as to lock out apps posted in the Google App Store that recorded YouTube videos.

Personally, I’d never even heard of this app.  I only learned about it when the RIAA filed their cease & desist notice to GitHub, the service where the app and it’s codebase are hosted.  So imagine my delight when I found the tool (reposted to GitHub after GitHub concluded that the request had no merit) and discovered it works BEAUTIFULLY.


First of all, it’s a command line tool, so if you’re not comfortable with using the command line (CMD.EXE)then you probably won’t want to use this.  On the other hand, it might be an opportunity to learn, right?

The main page for YOUTUBE-DL is:

Here you’ll find all the details however for the Cliff’s Notes on how to get started:


  • If you’re using Windows you can download the Windows app here:
      • Note: Your browser will likely try to prevent you from downloading the raw executable because downloading .EXE files is usually not a safe thing.  In this case, it’s fine and millions of people use this tool.  You can sidestep any warnings in downloading the .EXE.  How you do that will depend on what browser you use.
  • Move the .EXE to somewhere in your path to make it easy to call from a command prompt.  I moved it to C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WindowsApps


  • Open a CMD.EXE prompt.
  • Change to the directory you want to save the video/MP4 file to.
  • Type youtube-dl [URL]
    Ex: youtube-dl
      • The program will pull in the video, identify the title, and save the video as [titlename].mp4 in the directory you’re in
      • The video quality will be the best available by default. If you wish to get a lower quality, see Options.

There are hundreds of advanced options available that can be applied at run time.  Here’s a few interesting ones:

  • Bypass geographic restrictions
    Ex: youtube-dl –geo-bypass [URL]
  • Record playlist from 5 to 49
    Ex: youtub-dl –playlist-start 5 –playlist-end 49 [PLAYLIST]
  • Update to newest version
    Ex: youtube-dl –U
  • Download at a lower quality format
    Ex: youtube-dl –f worst [URL

There is a very important FAQ published at:

It lists answers to questions like slow performance or other commonly asked questions.

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