I recently stumbled accross an amazing feature of VLC which I didn’t notice existed until I accidently pasted a YouTube webpage URL into the VLC open dialog… VLC is fully able to play YouTube videos and you can even save them using the transcoding feature, pretty cool.
Warning: I am sharing this with you as I thought it is a cool feature, however please do not use this method to download any copyright protected materials...
Play YouTube Videos in VLC
First off lets try playing a YouTube video in VLC. Find a YouTube video you’d like to play in VLC and copy it’s URL directly out of your web browser’s address bar. For this example I’ll use a video of some creative commons licensed music.
Next open VLC and select “Open Network…” from the file menu.
Paste the YouTube URL you copied from your browser window into the URL text box and click open, your YouTube video should now start to play within VLC.
Great, now you can watch your favourite YouTube videos within VLC, you can even add them to playlists and best of all it seems to skip the ads every time. But whatou if you want to save the videos offline to view later? Keep reading to learn how to save YouTube videos to your computer using VLC.
Download YouTube videos using VLC
Downloading YouTube videos using VLC is almost as easy as playing them, copy the YouTube URL from your browser and then open VLC, this time open the Streaming/Exporting Wizard from the file menu.
On the first page of the wizard select “Transcode/save to file” and click Next.
On the next page paste the YouTube URL into the “Select a stream” textbox and click Next.
Tick the Transcode Video and Transcode Audio checkboxes and select the codec of the file you’d like to save, personally I prefer mpeg4 although if you prefer a different format / bitrate you should select it here. If you don’t know what to select here use the stuff from my screenshot and you should have a working mpeg4 file out the other end. Remember to check transcode audio too else you will end up with a video file with no audio.
Next select a location to save the video file… Clicking the choose button will open a file save dialog so you can more easily select a location for the file. Once you are happy click Next.
A breif summary will be displayed with all the details you entered in the wizard, dismiss this by clicking the finish button, in your main VLC window you’ll now have a new Steaming/Transcode Wizard item in your playlist. Double click on this playlist item to start the transcoding of the YouTube video, when the transcoding starts the Title of the playlist item will update to the title of the YouTube video. No video will play but progress will be displayed at the bottom of the VLC window in the area highlighted in the screenshot… Once the progress indicated in the playback position bar is complete and the time returns to 00:00 you know transcoding the YouTube video to the file is complete.
You can now locate the video file you saved from YouTube in the location you selected in the wizard and you can open it in any video player capable of playing back the codec you selected. It feels a bit clunky but after you have downloaded a couple of videos the process gets alot easier.
Congratulations, you have now downloaded a video from YouTube using VLC!
As I previously suggested please do not download copyrighted materials from YouTube, if you want a video / song please purchase it through official means, however if you are after a creative commons video, or some old content you uploaded to YouTube but lost the source files please go ahead and use this method to pull down video from YouTube.