Downloading better quality YouTube videos

This may be old news to you, but as I’ve only just heard, here it is: To make YouTube content work on non Flash-based devices (AppleTV, iPhone), recent videos are available in higher-quality, non Flash versions.

To view higher quality MP4 (H.264) versions of videos, add ‘&fmt=18’ to the end of the address. You’ll see a big difference between

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImyTzI7OSHM

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImyTzI7OSHM&fmt=18

The audio is also better. The quality will only be better if the originally submitted file was better quality than standard size.

If you are running Safari, you can download the Flash and MP4 files from sites that don’t provide download links:

1. Before you go to a page with a Flash or MP4 video player on it, open the ‘Activity’ window using the Window menu.
2. Go to the video player page and carefully watch the list of items being loaded by looking at the list in the Activity window. You’ll see the Status of each item. Most will load quickly – they’ll show a file size of anything from a few bytes to a few K for the images.
3. Find the item associated with the video you want to download. The status for the video item will take longer to appear. The ‘Address’ of the item will be a long line of gobbledegook, but the status will show values such as ‘2.6 of 3.2 MB’ as the video is loaded into the player.
4. If you double-click this item, Safari will either download the video (check the Downloads window), or it will open a new window containing a load of garbled text. If a new window opens, wait for it to finish loading and then choose ‘Save As…’ from the file menu and save the file – without the suggested extra .txt suffix.

This works on the Mac version of Safari, but I haven’t tried it on a PC yet.

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2 comments
  1. I have heard that youtube are adding a higher quality button to some clips. Not sure why this isn’t been implemented earlier, all the clips I have uploaded are now available in higher quality, but no sign of that button yet.

    An easier method to save youtube clips is to use http://keepvid.com/.

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