Google has a solid amount of cash in its pockets, but with all the recent lawsuits against YouTube one has to wonder if it’s time to salvage whatever videos you like from the service and save them somewhere where evil attorneys won’t look – your hard drive.
Luckily, there are literally dozens of tools for downloading videos from YouTube and/or converting those YouTube videos to some format other than .flv. It’s hard to pick the best one, as they all have pluses and minuses. Thus, we’ve chosen 23 YouTube downloader tools we’ve found to be actually working. Here they are, categorized according to the platform they work on:
1. VideoDownloader is very similar to KeepVid, but supports even more video sharing sites, and it’s also available as a Firefox extension. Just like with KeepVid, all downloads are in .flv format. We recommend MediaCoder for free conversion.
2. YouTubeX doesn’t have a lot of options, but it’s simple, and it works. It also enables you to share the YouTube video with your friends via e-mail. Unfortunately, all the files are called get_video, and you have to add the .flv extension manually.
3. KeepVid is another simple site. No hassle, works not only for YouTube movies but for a number of other sites, including Google Video, MySpace Video, DailyMotion and others. Again, you have to add the .flv extension by hand.
4. YouTube Downloads takes the cake in the longest domain name contest. It also separates itself by using a proxy for downloading videos, which means that you might be able to get videos even if YouTube access is blocked at your workplace or in the country you live. Just search Google for YouTube videos, and copy/paste the URL into YouTube Downloads.
5. Zamzar is an online file format conversion site which can do a lot more than just converting YouTube videos to another format and downloading them to your hard drive, but it’s doing a great job so we had to include it here. Thoroughly tested by us and highly recommended. See the video of it in action here.
6. YouTubia separates itself from the crowd by enabling you to search as well as download YouTube files. Options are scarce, but it works.
7. VidGrab is another simple site that works with YouTube, Google Video, MySpace and Break.com. Besides the download function, the site also sports a top list of most viewed videos.
8. Vixy offers both downloading videos and converting them into DivX avi, mov, mp4, 3gp, or mp3 (for audio only) formats. The conversion works well enough, but sometimes results in slightly choppy playback.
9. Hey! Watch is an ambitious video encoding service with a large number of options, especially when it comes to converting videos to portable media player formats (it even supports my trusty iRiver H340.) Most online video converters often produce crappy results, with video and audio being out of sync, and this problem is also present on Hey! Watch, but it happens rarely.
10. Media Converter can be a little slow, but the results of the video conversion are quite good. We’ve converted some YouTube videos to avi (mpeg4 + mp3) format and it worked well. The tool is not limited to video conversion; it also supports several audio and document formats.
11. KcoolOnline is a web-based converter which supports 98 video sharing web sites, including YouTube. It has literally zero options, so it’s recommended for those who like to keep it simple.
12. VDownloader is a desktop application that catches YouTube, Google Video, and Grinvi video links from your clipboard. Start it up, copy the video URL and click download. It automatically converts the videos to mpeg or avi formats.
13. YouTube Grabber downloads files from Youtube in .flv format. Copy and paste the URL of a video from YouTube into the program, press «grab», and the file will be downloaded into the same directory as the program.
14. Orbit Downloader is a desktop application which can download videos from a wide variety of sites. The download process is very simple, just hover your mouse over the video and you’ll get a button that says «Get It». The developers of the program claim that it’s very fast (up to 500% faster, they say) due to its P2P download technology.
15. My Video Downloader. With all these free tools, it’s actually funny to see a commercial one. It’s called My Video Downloader, and while it does look solid and offers a lot of conversion options (a free trial which enables you to download 10 videos is available), we’re not sure it offers enough to warrant a price tag.
16. KeepV is a desktop downloader as well as a converter, which can convert the downloaded videos from flv to avi, mov, mp4, or 3gp formats.
17. VideoGet boasts being able to download video clips from more than 100 video sharing websites. We haven’t tested all of them, so we’re just going to take their word for it. It’s a deskop application with a nice, simple interface, and a solid number of options.
18. TubeSucker is a desktop YouTube video downloader with some interesting options, including batch downloading large amounts of videos from a certain user. See the video tour on the site.
19. Get Tube is an OS X application which lets you download video or audio files from YouTube, DailyMotion and Kewego.
20. Youtube-dl. Here’s some love for Linux users. Youtube-dl is a program that lets you download YouTube clips in flv format, which both mplayer and VLC can easily chew up.
21. YouTube Ripper is not actually an application; it’s a simple script that rips all videos that match a keyword, uploaded by a specific YouTube user. We don’t really have ideas on what to use this for, but maybe you do! PHP port is also available.
22. Vidtaker is a Firefox-only plugin that can download videos from most streaming websites: Google Video, YouTube, MySpace, as well as a number of nasty adult SomethingTube spinoffs (Pornotube, YouPorn etc). It automatically converts the video to a DivX avi.
23. Ook? Video Ook! Yes, that’s the full name of this Firefox plugin, which enables you to download videos from YouTube and several other video sharing web sites. It features one click downloading and integration with the popular DownThemAll Firefox plugin.