youtube-dl Documentation


Getting started

In Windows save the exe version somewhere (in your PATH if you want to run it simply as youtube-dl) and run it from the command line.

In Unix, download it, give it execution permission and copy it to one of the PATH directories (typically, /usr/local/bin).

To update, simply call youtube-dl -U, we recommend to do it often.

After that, you should be able to call it from the command line as youtube-dl. I will use youtube-dl in the following examples. Usage instructions are easy. Use youtube-dl followed by a video URL or identifier. Example: youtube-dl "". The video will be saved to the file foobar.flv in that example. As videos are usually in Flash Video format, their extension should be flv. In Linux and other unices, video players using a recent version of ffmpeg can play them. That includes VLC, MPlayer, etc. Those two work under Windows and other platforms, but you could also get a specific FLV player of your taste.

If you try to run the program and you receive an error message containing the keyword SyntaxError near the end, it means your Python interpreter is too old, remember that youtube-dl need Python version 2.6, 2.7, or 3.2+.

More usage tips

The program is usually invoked as youtube-dl followed by options and the video URLs. Listing all the options here would make this text too long, so you can run youtube-dl --help and get a summary of them. From that point on you can start experimenting with the different options yourself. The most common ones are -t (or -l) to include the video title in the file name. Also, the -o option can specify the output file name and path. It allows special character sequences that can be used as templates to be replaced. See the "Output template" section for more details.

Some YouTube videos are served using Adobe's proprietary RTMP protocol, which imposes DRM restrictions and encrypts the connection. youtube-dl is not able to download these videos by itself. However, it will attempt to use the rtmpdump program, if it's installed in your system, to download these videos.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Frequently Asked Questions documentation chapter contains answers to some common questions that pop up in my e-mail and in the issue tracker. Be sure to check it before reporting problems.

Supported sites

youtube-dl can download videos from not only YouTube, but over 500 different services. For a complete list, see the Supported sites pages or execute youtube-dl --extractor-descriptions.

Proxy support

youtube-dl supports downloading videos through a proxy, by setting the http_proxy environment variable to the proxy URL, as in http://proxy_machine_name:port/.

YouTube Video

Using the -f option and other related options, you can specify the video format to be downloaded. Add the -F option to see all valid formats. If you have an order of preference other than best quality, specify the formats separating them with slashes: -f 22/17/18. You can also pass in an extension, like -f mp4/webm.

Output template

The -o option allows users to indicate a template for the output file names. The basic usage is not to set any template arguments when downloading a single file, like in youtube-dl -o funny_video.flv "http://some/video". However, it may contain special sequences that will be replaced when downloading each video. The special sequences have the format %(NAME)s. To clarify, that's a percent symbol followed by a name in parenthesis, followed by a lowercase S. Allowed names are:

The current default template is %(id)s.%(ext)s, but that will be switchted to %(title)s-%(id)s.%(ext)s (which can be requested with -t at the moment).

In some cases, you don't want special characters such as 中, spaces, or &, such as when transferring the downloaded filename to a Windows system or the filename through an 8bit-unsafe channel. In these cases, add the --restrict-filenames flag to get a shorter title:

$ youtube-dl --get-filename -o "%(title)s.%(ext)s" BaW_jenozKc youtube-dl test video ''_ä↭𝕐.mp4    # All kinds of weird characters $ youtube-dl --get-filename -o "%(title)s.%(ext)s" BaW_jenozKc --restrict-filenames youtube-dl_test_video_.mp4          # A simple file name


You can configure youtube-dl by placing default arguments (such as --extract-audio --no-mtime to always extract the audio and not copy the mtime) into /etc/youtube-dl.conf and/or ~/.config/youtube-dl.conf (%APPDATA%\youtube-dl\config.txt and C:\Users\<Yourname>\youtube-dl.conf on Windows). Arguments in these files may be written across multiple lines, and any line beginning with the # character will be treated as a comment.

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Copyright © 2006-2015 Ricardo Garcia Gonzalez