How To Use VLC To Download a Youtube Video

When you see a YouTube video you want to download, you might be tempted to do it through the YouTube app. Unfortunately, YouTube charges for the privilege with YouTube Premium. Even then, you can only save clips of videos to your computer, but still won’t have a file that you can edit or tweak.

How To Use VLC To Download a Youtube Video

To download YouTube videos into usable files, you’ll need a third-party application like VLC. VLC is an open-source, free app that works on all platforms: Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows. This article will explain how to download YouTube videos with VLC.

How to Use VLC to Download YouTube Videos: Method 1

Using VLC is a relatively straightforward process.

On a Mac:

  1. Download and install VLC Media Player.
  2. Pull up the video online you’re interested in downloading. Copy the URL from the video’s web page search bar to the clipboard.
  3. Open the VLC Media Player. On a Mac, click “File” and then choose the “Open Network” option.
  4. Paste the URL into the URL bar in the pop-up window. VLC will analyze the URL and then play the video. This can take some time, so patience is key.
  5. Select “Window” and then “Media Information.”
  6. At the bottom of the next pop-up window, locate the URL in the “Location bar.” Copy and paste it into a new browser window and click “Enter.”

  7. This will take you to the page of your video. Once there, select the video with a right-click and select “Download Video As.” Navigate to a location for the downloaded file and click “Save.”

On a Windows PC:

  1. If you haven’t already, install the VLC Media Player.
  2. Locate the YouTube video that you plan to download with VLC. Copy the video’s web page URL.
  3. Open VLC. Select “Media” and then choose “Open Network Stream.”
  4. In the empty URL bar, paste the URL corresponding to the video and click “Play.”
  5. Once VLC is done processing the video, it will begin to play. Choose “Tools” and “Codec Information.”
  6. At the bottom of the Current Media Information pop-up window is a “Location” bar. Copy this URL into a new web page window. If it’s especially long, be sure to “Ctrl + A” to get it all.
  7. Once the video is loaded, right-click it and select “Save Video As” to store the downloaded video on your Windows PC.

Your YouTube video is now available on your computer as a downloaded file. You can watch it or edit it like you would an original video.

How to Use VLC to Stream YouTube Video to Download: Method 2

Another method of using VLC to download YouTube videos is to stream the video to a brand-new file on your computer. Once you’ve installed the VLC Media Player, follow the steps below. Note the process is virtually identical for Mac and PC.

  1. Search for the YouTube video you want and copy the URL.
  2. In VLC Media Player, select “Media,” and then select “Open Network Stream.”
  3. In the pop-up window, paste the copied URL. On the “Play button” is a menu where you can select “Stream.”
  4. A window appears with the title “Stream Output.” If the information looks correct, click “Next” and then “Stream.”
  5. In the “Destination Setup” window, click “Add.”
  6. “Browse” to choose the location for saving the downloaded YouTube video.
  7. Click the drop-down menu and choose the video format. The recommended format is mp4.
  8. Click “Stream.” VLC will begin to process the video to your chosen file location.

How to Use VLC to Record YouTube Videos for Download: Method 3

VLC has a built-in recorder that can record videos or parts of videos as well. This method is especially helpful if you only need a piece of a video instead of the entire thing. Plus, it’s much faster not to have to process the entire video.

  1. In VLC, select the video you want to record.
  2. Go to “View” then tap “Advanced Controls.”
  3. Click the “Record” button . It will automatically save.


What if my screen goes blank when VLC should be processing a video?

This is a bug that has been reported by various users. Go to VLC’s Github repository and download youtube.lua. Copy it into this location: C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\lua\playlist. You may need to delete or rename the youtube.lua file that is already there.

Why is it helpful to download YouTube videos?

It’s helpful because you can download videos for later enjoyment without using up your cellular data. Also, if you find a YouTube video and would like to edit it, downloading it first is necessary. Lastly, if you’d like to watch YouTube videos offline, when you’re on a bus or plane, downloading them ahead of time enables you to do so.

Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

The YouTube user agreement says that you “shall not download any content” unless it’s made available for download on YouTube. But many feel this falls into a gray area of copyright infringement. It may not be completely illegal, but YouTube says they reserve the right to shut down accounts that break their user agreement policy.

Downloading Videos with VLC

VLC is an open-source, free video converter that is owned by a non-profit company. You can use it to download YouTube videos for use on your personal computer. Granted, it can be cumbersome at times, but it gets the job done without any out-of-pocket cost.

Have you ever downloaded YouTube videos with VLC? If so, did you use any of the tips and tricks featured in this article? Tell us in the comments section below.

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