Have you ever wanted to download a YouTube video for offline viewing, but didn’t know how? Well with VLC, you can download youtube videos to Windows & Mac computers with just a few steps.
In this post, we’ll show you how to download YouTube videos using VLC through four different methods, including downloading with code and recording your screen.
Plus, we’ll provide solutions to common problems that may arise during the downloading process. Let’s dive in.
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- Method 1: How to download youtube video with VLC (Windows)
- Method 2: How to download youtube video with VLC (Mac)
- Method 3: How to Download a youtube video using VLC by Streaming to a file (Windows & Mac)
- Method 4: Download a youtube video using VLC with Code (Python)
- Method 5: Record screen with VLC and set to youtube
- What to do if downloading the Youtube video on VLC isn’t working
- Network stream not playing video in VLC from youtube
- Alternative Youtube Downloader options
- Bottom Line
Method 1: How to download youtube video with VLC (Windows)
One method to download a YouTube video is by using VLC Media Player and any web browser. The process is to extract information using VLC, then play (and save) the video using the browser.
Here are the steps to follow:
1. Copy the URL of the YouTube Video
Make sure the video is playing on youtube, then copy the URL address bar.
If you’re using a Smart phone (and not a desktop): then you’ll need to hit ‘request desktop website’ because the Youtube URLs are different based on the device. iPhone users can tap the “aA” icon next to the URL bar and select ‘request desktop website’.
2. Hit Ctrl + N in VLC and paste the Youtube URL (Hit Play)
This will bring up the network Protocol dashboard where you can enter the Youtube URL into the textbox under the prompt: “Please enter a network URL”.
Once you hit play, you’re video will begin playing. This has to happen before you move onto the next step.
If this doesn’t work see our section on: Network stream not playing video in VLC from youtube.
What this does is allow VLC to connect to the Youtube Video so it can play it through the URL, which will allow us to extract Youtube Data that will let you Download the Video.
Let’s see how this works in the next step.
3. While the Video is playing press Ctrl + J locate Codec Information.
In order to download the Youtube video via VLC, you must access the codec information in order to get a stream URL You’ll use this URL in the next step to download the Youtube video via VLC.
An alternate way to access this is to go to the top of the VLC menu and look for tools, the drop-down menu will show codec information. The fastest way is to press Ctrl + J to instantly access the menu and speed up the process.
From here, copy the URL at the bottom of the “Current Media information” screen. To copy it to your clipboard you can either use Ctrl + A or triple click anywhere on the url before hitting Ctrl + C.
4. Paste the Codec information URL into the Browser and save it
At ths point, you’ll copy and paste the Location URL from the previous step into your browser; this will work on FireFox, Chrome, or Edge. This was tested on Edge by our team members with success.
To save the Youtube Video (for download), right click anywhere on the video as it’s playing and save it (Edge, Chrome or Firefox). It doesn’t matter if the video is paused or not.
If you’re on Edge, then selecting the 5th option down should be “Save video as” – you can give it a custom name here and choose a destination location.
5. You have now downloaded the Youtube Video to your computer using VLC!
Congratulations! You will now have the video from YouTube saved on a folder in your windows computer.
It will be saved to the location you chose in Step 4. The final video file format should be a MP4 but if you need to convert it or further edit – VLC also allows you to convert video, flip/rotate, trim and cut, and even cast VLC to your TV.
Method 2: How to download youtube video with VLC (Mac)
One way to download a YouTube video using VLC Media Player is by utilizing VLC’s ability to extract a URL that your browser can play. This will ultimately let you save the video to your computer.
The steps are as follows:
1. Copy YouTube Video URL in any browser
You can copy the URL of the video if it is currently playing on YouTube.
You’ll need to hit ‘request desktop website’ if you’re using a smartphone instead of a desktop, since Youtube URLs vary depending on device. As mentioned earlier, a desktop URL can be requested by tapping the “aA” icon next to the URL bar on an iPhone.
2. Hit CMD + N in VLC and paste the Youtube URL
This will bring up the “Open source” dashboard where you can enter the Youtube UR. You’ll see a textbox labeled: “URL”. Leave the ‘Stream output’ option un-checked.
The video should pop up as soon as you hit play. If this doesn’t work see our section on: Network stream not playing video in VLC from youtube. [anchor link]
This will enable VLC to play the Youtube Video through the URL, so we can extract Youtube Data that will allow us to download the video via browser.
In the next step, we’ll need to access the Codec Info.
3. During playback, press CMD + i to locate the codec information
VLC provides the stream URL from the codec information to download the Youtube video. Using this URL, you will download the Youtube video via VLC in the next step.
To speed up the process, press Cmd + i to instantly access the menu. (Or go to Windows > Media Information)
You can also access this information by going to the top VLC menu and selecting ‘File’ > open Network.
The URL can be found at the bottom of the “Current Media Information” screen. Click anywhere on the url (triple click) and hit CMD + C to copy it to your clipboard.
4. The URL for the Codec information should be pasted into the browser (and saved)
In this step, you will copy and paste the Location URL from the previous step into your browser; it works with Firefox, Chrome, and Edge.
If you would like to download a YouTube video (for example, Edge, Chrome, Firefox), right click anywhere on the video while it’s playing and choose “Save as” and choose the file location you want to save it to.
5. The Youtube Video has now been downloaded to your Mac using VLC!
A big congratulations! You will now have the video from YouTube saved on a folder in your Mac (MacBook Air or Pro).
You can also flip/rotate, trim and cut videos in VLC if you need to convert them or further edit them.
Method 3: How to Download a youtube video using VLC by Streaming to a file (Windows & Mac)
The steps on Mac are similar to Method 2, only you hit Stream instead of open when you’re at the Open source > Network Dashboard. On windows, the below method will work to download, rip & capture youtube videos with VLC media player:
- Copy the URL of the YouTube video that you want to download while it’s playing on YouTube.
- Launch VLC Media Player on your computer and select “Stream” from the “Media” menu.
- In the “Open Media” dialog box, paste the YouTube URL that you copied earlier in the “Network URL” box and click on the “Stream” button.
- In the “Stream Output” dialog box, click “Next” to proceed.
- At the “Source” setup dialog, just click “Next” to proceed.
- In the “Destination Setup” window, click on “Add” to add a destination file.
- In the “Save as” dialog box, choose a folder and enter a filename for the video. Make sure to add the appropriate file extension, such as .mp4, to the end of the file name.
- Click on the “Stream” button at the “Option Setup” dialog.
- Wait for VLC to finish transcoding and streaming the video to the file.
Method 4: Download a youtube video using VLC with Code (Python)
Here are the steps for using youtube-dl to download a video from YouTube:
- Download youtube-dl by running the following command in the terminal: shellCopy code
$ sudo curl https://yt-dl.org/downloads/2016.01.09/youtube-dl -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
- Set execute permission for youtube-dl by running the following command in the terminal: shellCopy code
$ sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
- To download a YouTube video, get the URL of the video while it is being played on YouTube.
- Run the following command in the terminal, replacing
VIDEO_URLwith the URL of the video: cssCopy code
$ youtube-dl VIDEO_URL
- youtube-dl will download the video and display the progress on the terminal. Once the download is complete, the video file will be saved in the current directory.
- To see a list of available video formats for a YouTube video, run the following command in the terminal, replacing
VIDEO_URLwith the URL of the video: cssCopy code
$ youtube-dl --list-formats VIDEO_URL
- To download a video in a preferred file format, use the option
-ffollowed by the format code. For example, to download the webm format, use the following command: cssCopy code
$ youtube-dl -f 43 VIDEO_URL
- To download a playlist, simply add the playlist URL after the
youtube-dlcommand. youtube-dl will download all the videos in the playlist and merge them into a single file.
- By default, youtube-dl deletes the original video files after merging. To keep the original files, provide the
- In addition to YouTube, youtube-dl can also download videos from Vimeo. Simply run the
youtube-dlcommand with the Vimeo video URL, and youtube-dl will take care of the rest.
Method 5: Record screen with VLC and set to youtube
Recording your screen with VLC to download YouTube videos is another method that you can use if you’re looking for a simpler way to save the video.
It involves recording the video as it plays on your screen using VLC media player. See our full guide on how to screen record using VLC.
To do this, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Open VLC media player on your computer and go to the “Media” tab.
- Click on “Open Capture Device” and select “Desktop” from the “Capture mode” dropdown menu.
- Select the screen that you want to record, and make sure the “Show Cursor” box is checked.
- Click on the “Options” button and set the frame rate and the output file format.
- Click “Save” to save the settings, and then click “Play” to start recording your screen.
- Start playing the YouTube video and wait for it to finish. While it plays, VLC will record it in real-time and save it as a video file.
This method is simpler than the previous ones since you don’t need to extract any information or copy and paste any URLs.
Drawbacks of this method:
The downside is that the quality of the video will depend on the settings you’ve selected in VLC, and it won’t be in high-definition.
Additionally, you’ll have to wait for the entire video to play before you can save it, so this method might not be ideal if you’re in a hurry.
What to do if downloading the Youtube video on VLC isn’t working
If you prefer to use VLC, there are three common problems and solutions to unsuccessful downloads. The first problem is that the downloaded file is named “file” and is not playable.
- One solution is to add a suffix of “.mp4” or “.avi” when naming the file, or use a video converter to convert the file to MP4 format. We’ve tested this and it worked on our MacBook Air running Ventura OS.
- Certain YouTube videos cannot be downloaded because they are age-restricted, and VLC cannot be used to bypass YouTube policies.
- Occasionally, VLC cannot open the input due to the video being blocked in your region or a faulty YouTube script. A VPN typically doesn’t help here according to our tests.
Network stream not playing video in VLC from youtube
Users may encounter the error message “Network stream won’t play or “VLC isn’t able to open up this link”.
To fix this issue, several solutions should be attempted:
- Update VLC to its latest version
- Disable cookies forwarding setting
- Disable hardware-accelerated decoding
- Replace the existing YouTube.lua file
- Increase file caching and network caching values
- Give up YouTube AV1 streaming in VLC
- Reset the VLC preferences
- Choose DirectX (Direct Draw) as the default video output mode
It is essential to determine the actual cause of the issue before applying any solution.
Related: How to make VLC your Default media player (Rather than quicktime or windows media player).
Occasionally, VLC will open another version of the video called index.m3u8 when you paste the full video link in the browser… and there will be no option to download. This problem is typically fixed by disabling cookies and hardware accelerated decoding.
Alternative Youtube Downloader options
There are other softwares that let you download Youtube Videos – VLC isn’t your only option.
VLC is a versatile media player that can also be used to download YouTube videos, but there are other dedicated applications that can do the job even better. These applications are designed specifically for downloading YouTube videos and offer features that VLC does not.
- VideoProc Converter is a powerful alternative to VLC for downloading online videos. With just a few clicks, you can effortlessly download videos, audios, playlists, and channels in bulk while ensuring the highest quality available, including 8K, 4K, 1080p, and 720p resolutions. It offers the flexibility to save your videos in popular formats like MP4 and MP3.
- In addition, VideoProc Converter offers simple editing tools like as cutting, merging, cropping, rotating, and adjusting video speed, as well as recording webcam and screen with sound and capturing live streaming videos.
- Any Video Converter and 4K Video Downloader are two great alternatives to VLC. Any Video Converter offers fast converting speeds and excellent video quality for converting video files between various formats, while 4K Video Downloader offers free and paid versions with features like downloading videos, playlists, and VR videos.
- Other alternatives include Bulk Media Downloader, SnapTube, and Apowersoft Video Downloader for Mac, which offers an in-built video editor for editing downloaded videos.
Lastly, web-based YouTube downloaders are also an option and are easily accessible through any web browser (this is what makes them popular)
While VLC may be capable of downloading YouTube videos, these alternatives are dedicated to the task and offer more features and flexibility.
What is the process for converting YouTube videos to MP4?
To convert YouTube videos to MP4, you will need to use a YouTube converter tool. First, copy the link of the YouTube video you want to convert, then paste it into the converter. Select the MP4 format and click the “Convert” or “Download” button to start the process.
Also see: How to Convert DVDs for Plex
How can I save YouTube videos to my computer for offline viewing?
To save YouTube videos to your computer for offline viewing, you can use a YouTube downloader tool. This will allow you to download the video and save it to your computer for later viewing without an internet connection.
Can I download YouTube videos to my laptop without using an app?
Yes, you can download YouTube videos to your laptop without using an app by using a Chrome extension or an online YouTube downloader. A Chrome extension is recommended as it is free from ads. The blog post will explain how to use a Chrome extension to download YouTube videos.
Can you download a Youtube Playlist using VLC?
No you can’t. This is because the two options available only work on one URL which requires the video to be played and individually saved via a browser. You will need a separate dedicated software to accomplish this type of task and VLC media player is not ideal in this scenario.
Does file size matter when downloading a Youtube video using VLC?
Yes, file size does matter when downloading a YouTube video using VLC, as it determines how long the download process will take and how much storage space will be required on the computer. Otheriwse, it doesn’t really effect anything else because VLC simply allows you to use the video in a browser (which, in turn, allows you to save it).
The larger the file size, the longer it will take to download and the more storage space it will occupy. It’s important to keep this in mind when downloading videos and ensure that there is enough space available on the computer to save the file. Additionally, it’s important to note that downloading videos with larger file sizes may require more powerful hardware and a faster internet connection to ensure a smooth and efficient download process.
Can VLC still download YouTube videos?
It is possible to use VLC to record a YouTube video, and the following steps can guide you through the process:
- First, launch the VLC media player.
- Then, select the Media tab and click on the Convert / Save option from the drop-down menu.
- Next, navigate to the Capture video tab on the new window and select the Desktop option from the Capture mode.
If you’re on Mac hit Cmd + N and hit open. Alternatively, hitting the stream option below the URL works as well.
Is downloading YouTube videos from VLC safe?
This can get tricky – When using VLC to download YouTube videos, the process itself is safe. VLC is a trusted and widely-used media player, and it doesn’t contain any malware or harmful software that could harm your computer or personal information.
However, it’s worth noting that downloading YouTube videos without permission is against the YouTube terms of service, and it could potentially be illegal in some jurisdictions. It’s important to consider the legal implications of downloading YouTube videos before doing so.
It’s important to only download YouTube videos from trusted sources, such as the official YouTube website (and only if it’s legal). You should always have an antivirus software installed on your computer.
Overall, using VLC to download YouTube videos is generally safe as long as you download videos from trusted sources and consider the potential legal implications of doing so.
Can you download Youtube videos using iPhone or Android SmartPhones?
Both iOS and Android smartphones have limitations in downloading YouTube videos due to platform restrictions and the lack of appropriate tools.
The open streaming download options that work on desktop versions of VLC, for example, are not as effective on mobile devices. Additionally, the iOS version of VLC has limitations and cannot access the same functionality as its desktop counterpart.
Do I need to install any other software for downloading a YouTube video with VLC Media Player?
You don’t need any other software to download a YouTube video with VLC Media Player, but you do need a web browser to access the YouTube video, and it’s important to have the latest version of VLC installed to ensure the best performance and compatibility.
Does Downloading videos from youtube premium mean I can use them for editing?
If you have a YouTube Premium subscription, you can download videos from YouTube onto your computer. However, keep in mind that videos downloaded from YouTube and YouTube Music can only be played back within the YouTube app or website.
If you don’t have a YouTube Premium subscription, you can still save YouTube videos for offline use using VLC player – you’ll need to understand if this is legal or not based on Youtube policies. copyrights, and more.
Can I export the downloaded YouTube video to another audio or video format with VLC Media Player?
Yes, you can export the downloaded YouTube video to another audio or video format using VLC Media Player. After downloading the video, you can open it in VLC and go to the menu bar, select Media, and then choose the Convert/Save option.
From here, you can select the output file format that you want, such as AVI, OGG, TS, MKV, and more. VLC can also convert the multimedia container format of the video if needed.
Can I download a Video from youtube with subtitles using VLC?
No, subtitles are not automatically downloaded when using VLC to download a YouTube video. However, you can check the transcript on the actual YouTube video to obtain the captions in the desired language. This transcript will be in the same timestamp and caption format that most people are looking for when downloading a video on YouTube.
Alternatively, if you use method five, which is using VLC screen record, you can capture the youtube video with the subtitles burned in. However, they will not be saved as a separate subtitle file such as SRT.
The post discusses several methods to download YouTube videos using VLC media player on both Windows and Mac.
The first method requires copying the video’s URL and pasting it into the VLC media player, then extracting the URL and pasting it into a browser to save the video.
The second method is similar, but the user hits the Stream button in the “Media” menu and selects a destination file for your video download.
The information presented in this post is intended for educational purposes only. If you have any doubts about the legality of these methods, please seek advice from a legal expert. We do not encourage the use of any of these methods if they are not in compliance with the law.
We also included instructions for downloading videos using Python code and recording the screen with VLC (a good alternative). Additionally, the post offers solutions to common issues that may arise while downloading videos with VLC, including error messages and restricted videos.