How to download videos from YouTube and other sites in Full HD (1080p)?

Feb 2017

If you, just like me, don't like to rely on data stored in the "cloud" (i.e. someone else's computer) and prefer to have it available offline on your hard drive, you probably tried to find a way to download video and music from YouTube and other similar services. There are web pages for that, but they are full of ads, malware and fake "Download" buttons. That's why my favorite way is to use youtube-dl. It works perfectly, is constantly updated and maintained, is open source and supports downloading from almost 1000 (!) different websites, including YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook videos, Soundcloud, Mixcloud and even XXX websites. The only drawback: it's a command line program, so you have to download it and then run it from console with correct parameters. But it's actually quite simple, as you can see below. (If you want to see a simpler, window-based solution, go to the end of this post.)

To use it, first go to the youtube-dl website and download "Windows executable". It's a single file - youtube-dl.exe, which doesn't need any installation. Just put it in some directory on your hard disk, like I did in F:\Programs.

Next, browse to YouTube or other website, find the video you want to download and copy its URL (link) from address bar to the clipboard. Example: "".

Finally, open command prompt. In Windows 10 you can do it e.g. by opening Start menu and searching for "Command Prompt". In the console, issue following commands:

The video is downloaded to the same directory where you've put the program. Its file name contains title of the video, its YouTube identifier and correct extension, depending on particular video format. For example, mine was: "PSY - GANGNAM STYLE() M_V-9bZkp7q19f0.mp4".

That's all basically, but please keep reading if you want to avoid unpleasant suprises, because there are still two important things to know.

First is that sometimes downloading doesn't work. It happens probably because YouTube changes the way the video is served on their website, like the details of their HTML code. Fortunately youtube-dl is quickly adjusted to it, so if you encounter any download error, you probably just need to update the program to the latest version. You don't even need to go to their website - the program has a feature to update itself. All you need to do is to issue command:

youtube-dl.exe -U


Second problem is that youtube-dl only downloads YouTube videos in HD (720p) quality, not Full HD (1080p). That's because YouTube provides Full HD video and audio streams separately so they need to be merged on the client side. Good news is that youtube-dl can do it for you. Bad news: it needs additional program for that, called FFmpeg. So to be able to download videos in FullHD quality, you should additionally:

Now, to download Full HD video, issue following console commands:

Now youtube-dl will download the video stream, audio stream and merge them into final file using FFmpeg, so you can enjoy best quality video and audio, downloaded on your hard drive.

Update: There is also a simpler, window-based solution: DLNow Video Downloader. It's a commercial program with 30-day free trial that is actually a GUI overlay on top of youtube-dl, ffmpeg, and rtmpdump. I recommend it, because it supports all these video websites and is very easy to use. I think that charging $19 is fair, comparing to all the other programs that claim to be "free" while they install some adware or show you ads. This one doesn't.

Comments | #internet #video Share


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