How To Install Best youtube-dl in Linux and Windows

youtube-dl – download videos from youtube.com or other video platforms.

INSTALLATION

To install it right away for all UNIX users (Linux, OS X, etc.), type:

sudo curl -L https://yt-dl.org/downloads/latest/youtube-dl -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

If you do not have curl, you can alternatively use a recent wget:

sudo wget https://yt-dl.org/downloads/latest/youtube-dl -O /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

Windows users can download an .exe file and place it in any location on their PATH except for %SYSTEMROOT%\System32 (e.g. do not put in C:\Windows\System32).

You can also use pip:

sudo -H pip install --upgrade youtube-dl

This command will update youtube-dl if you have already installed it. See the pypi page for more information.

OS X users can install youtube-dl with Homebrew:

brew install youtube-dl

Or with MacPorts:

sudo port install youtube-dl

Alternatively, refer to the developer instructions for how to check out and work with the git repository. For further options, including PGP signatures, see the youtube-dl Download Page.

DESCRIPTION

youtube-dl is a command-line program to download videos from YouTube.com and a few more sites. It requires the Python interpreter, version 2.6, 2.7, or 3.2+, and it is not platform specific. It should work on your Unix box, on Windows or on Mac OS X. It is released to the public domain, which means you can modify it, redistribute it or use it however you like.

youtube-dl [OPTIONS] URL [URL...]

OPTIONS

-h, --help                       Print this help text and exit
--version                        Print program version and exit
-U, --update                     Update this program to latest version. Make
sure that you have sufficient permissions
(run with sudo if needed)
-i, --ignore-errors              Continue on download errors, for example to
skip unavailable videos in a playlist
--abort-on-error                 Abort downloading of further videos (in the
playlist or the command line) if an error
occurs
--dump-user-agent                Display the current browser identification
--list-extractors                List all supported extractors
--extractor-descriptions         Output descriptions of all supported
extractors
--force-generic-extractor        Force extraction to use the generic
extractor
--default-search PREFIX          Use this prefix for unqualified URLs. For
example "gvsearch2:" downloads two videos
from google videos for youtube-dl "large
apple". Use the value "auto" to let
youtube-dl guess ("auto_warning" to emit a
warning when guessing). "error" just throws
an error. The default value "fixup_error"
repairs broken URLs, but emits an error if
this is not possible instead of searching.
--ignore-config                  Do not read configuration files. When given
in the global configuration file
/etc/youtube-dl.conf: Do not read the user
configuration in ~/.config/youtube-
dl/config (%APPDATA%/youtube-dl/config.txt
on Windows)
--config-location PATH           Location of the configuration file; either
the path to the config or its containing
directory.
--flat-playlist                  Do not extract the videos of a playlist,
only list them.
--mark-watched                   Mark videos watched (YouTube only)
--no-mark-watched                Do not mark videos watched (YouTube only)
--no-color                       Do not emit color codes in output

Network Options:

--proxy URL                      Use the specified HTTP/HTTPS/SOCKS proxy.
To enable experimental SOCKS proxy, specify
a proper scheme. For example
socks5://127.0.0.1:1080/. Pass in an empty
string (--proxy "") for direct connection
--socket-timeout SECONDS         Time to wait before giving up, in seconds
--source-address IP              Client-side IP address to bind to
-4, --force-ipv4                 Make all connections via IPv4
-6, --force-ipv6                 Make all connections via IPv6
--geo-verification-proxy URL     Use this proxy to verify the IP address for
some geo-restricted sites. The default
proxy specified by --proxy (or none, if the
options is not present) is used for the
actual downloading.

Video Selection:

--playlist-start NUMBER          Playlist video to start at (default is 1)
--playlist-end NUMBER            Playlist video to end at (default is last)
--playlist-items ITEM_SPEC       Playlist video items to download. Specify
indices of the videos in the playlist
separated by commas like: "--playlist-items
1,2,5,8" if you want to download videos
indexed 1, 2, 5, 8 in the playlist. You can
specify range: "--playlist-items
1-3,7,10-13", it will download the videos
at index 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13.
--match-title REGEX              Download only matching titles (regex or
caseless sub-string)
--reject-title REGEX             Skip download for matching titles (regex or
caseless sub-string)
--max-downloads NUMBER           Abort after downloading NUMBER files
--min-filesize SIZE              Do not download any videos smaller than
SIZE (e.g. 50k or 44.6m)
--max-filesize SIZE              Do not download any videos larger than SIZE
(e.g. 50k or 44.6m)
--date DATE                      Download only videos uploaded in this date
--datebefore DATE                Download only videos uploaded on or before
this date (i.e. inclusive)
--dateafter DATE                 Download only videos uploaded on or after
this date (i.e. inclusive)
--min-views COUNT                Do not download any videos with less than
COUNT views
--max-views COUNT                Do not download any videos with more than
COUNT views
--match-filter FILTER            Generic video filter. Specify any key (see
help for -o for a list of available keys)
to match if the key is present, !key to
check if the key is not present, key >
NUMBER (like "comment_count > 12", also
works with >=, <, <=, !=, =) to compare
against a number, and & to require multiple
matches. Values which are not known are
excluded unless you put a question mark (?)
after the operator. For example, to only
match videos that have been liked more than
100 times and disliked less than 50 times
(or the dislike functionality is not
available at the given service), but who
also have a description, use --match-filter
"like_count > 100 & dislike_count <? 50 &
description" .
--no-playlist                    Download only the video, if the URL refers
to a video and a playlist.
--yes-playlist                   Download the playlist, if the URL refers to
a video and a playlist.
--age-limit YEARS                Download only videos suitable for the given
age
--download-archive FILE          Download only videos not listed in the
archive file. Record the IDs of all
downloaded videos in it.
--include-ads                    Download advertisements as well
(experimental)

Download Options:

-r, --limit-rate RATE            Maximum download rate in bytes per second
(e.g. 50K or 4.2M)
-R, --retries RETRIES            Number of retries (default is 10), or
"infinite".
--fragment-retries RETRIES       Number of retries for a fragment (default
is 10), or "infinite" (DASH and hlsnative
only)
--skip-unavailable-fragments     Skip unavailable fragments (DASH and
hlsnative only)
--abort-on-unavailable-fragment  Abort downloading when some fragment is not
available
--buffer-size SIZE               Size of download buffer (e.g. 1024 or 16K)
(default is 1024)
--no-resize-buffer               Do not automatically adjust the buffer
size. By default, the buffer size is
automatically resized from an initial value
of SIZE.
--playlist-reverse               Download playlist videos in reverse order
--playlist-random                Download playlist videos in random order
--xattr-set-filesize             Set file xattribute ytdl.filesize with
expected file size (experimental)
--hls-prefer-native              Use the native HLS downloader instead of
ffmpeg
--hls-prefer-ffmpeg              Use ffmpeg instead of the native HLS
downloader
--hls-use-mpegts                 Use the mpegts container for HLS videos,
allowing to play the video while
downloading (some players may not be able
to play it)
--external-downloader COMMAND    Use the specified external downloader.
Currently supports
aria2c,avconv,axel,curl,ffmpeg,httpie,wget
--external-downloader-args ARGS  Give these arguments to the external
downloader

Filesystem Options:

-a, --batch-file FILE            File containing URLs to download ('-' for
stdin)
--id                             Use only video ID in file name
-o, --output TEMPLATE            Output filename template, see the "OUTPUT
TEMPLATE" for all the info
--autonumber-size NUMBER         Specify the number of digits in
%(autonumber)s when it is present in output
filename template or --auto-number option
is given (default is 5)
--autonumber-start NUMBER        Specify the start value for %(autonumber)s
(default is 1)
--restrict-filenames             Restrict filenames to only ASCII
characters, and avoid "&" and spaces in
filenames
-A, --auto-number                [deprecated; use -o
"%(autonumber)s-%(title)s.%(ext)s" ] Number
downloaded files starting from 00000
-t, --title                      [deprecated] Use title in file name
(default)
-l, --literal                    [deprecated] Alias of --title
-w, --no-overwrites              Do not overwrite files
-c, --continue                   Force resume of partially downloaded files.
By default, youtube-dl will resume
downloads if possible.
--no-continue                    Do not resume partially downloaded files
(restart from beginning)
--no-part                        Do not use .part files - write directly
into output file
--no-mtime                       Do not use the Last-modified header to set
the file modification time
--write-description              Write video description to a .description
file
--write-info-json                Write video metadata to a .info.json file
--write-annotations              Write video annotations to a
.annotations.xml file
--load-info-json FILE            JSON file containing the video information
(created with the "--write-info-json"
option)
--cookies FILE                   File to read cookies from and dump cookie
jar in
--cache-dir DIR                  Location in the filesystem where youtube-dl
can store some downloaded information
permanently. By default
$XDG_CACHE_HOME/youtube-dl or
~/.cache/youtube-dl . At the moment, only
YouTube player files (for videos with
obfuscated signatures) are cached, but that
may change.
--no-cache-dir                   Disable filesystem caching
--rm-cache-dir                   Delete all filesystem cache files

Thumbnail images:

--write-thumbnail                Write thumbnail image to disk
--write-all-thumbnails           Write all thumbnail image formats to disk
--list-thumbnails                Simulate and list all available thumbnail
formats

Verbosity / Simulation Options:

-q, --quiet                      Activate quiet mode
--no-warnings                    Ignore warnings
-s, --simulate                   Do not download the video and do not write
anything to disk
--skip-download                  Do not download the video
-g, --get-url                    Simulate, quiet but print URL
-e, --get-title                  Simulate, quiet but print title
--get-id                         Simulate, quiet but print id
--get-thumbnail                  Simulate, quiet but print thumbnail URL
--get-description                Simulate, quiet but print video description
--get-duration                   Simulate, quiet but print video length
--get-filename                   Simulate, quiet but print output filename
--get-format                     Simulate, quiet but print output format
-j, --dump-json                  Simulate, quiet but print JSON information.
See --output for a description of available
keys.
-J, --dump-single-json           Simulate, quiet but print JSON information
for each command-line argument. If the URL
refers to a playlist, dump the whole
playlist information in a single line.
--print-json                     Be quiet and print the video information as
JSON (video is still being downloaded).
--newline                        Output progress bar as new lines
--no-progress                    Do not print progress bar
--console-title                  Display progress in console titlebar
-v, --verbose                    Print various debugging information
--dump-pages                     Print downloaded pages encoded using base64
to debug problems (very verbose)
--write-pages                    Write downloaded intermediary pages to
files in the current directory to debug
problems
--print-traffic                  Display sent and read HTTP traffic
-C, --call-home                  Contact the youtube-dl server for debugging
--no-call-home                   Do NOT contact the youtube-dl server for
debugging

Workarounds:

--encoding ENCODING              Force the specified encoding (experimental)
--no-check-certificate           Suppress HTTPS certificate validation
--prefer-insecure                Use an unencrypted connection to retrieve
information about the video. (Currently
supported only for YouTube)
--user-agent UA                  Specify a custom user agent
--referer URL                    Specify a custom referer, use if the video
access is restricted to one domain
--add-header FIELD:VALUE         Specify a custom HTTP header and its value,
separated by a colon ':'. You can use this
option multiple times
--bidi-workaround                Work around terminals that lack
bidirectional text support. Requires bidiv
or fribidi executable in PATH
--sleep-interval SECONDS         Number of seconds to sleep before each
download when used alone or a lower bound
of a range for randomized sleep before each
download (minimum possible number of
seconds to sleep) when used along with
--max-sleep-interval.
--max-sleep-interval SECONDS     Upper bound of a range for randomized sleep
before each download (maximum possible
number of seconds to sleep). Must only be
used along with --min-sleep-interval.

Video Format Options:

-f, --format FORMAT              Video format code, see the "FORMAT
SELECTION" for all the info
--all-formats                    Download all available video formats
--prefer-free-formats            Prefer free video formats unless a specific
one is requested
-F, --list-formats               List all available formats of requested
videos
--youtube-skip-dash-manifest     Do not download the DASH manifests and
related data on YouTube videos
--merge-output-format FORMAT     If a merge is required (e.g.
bestvideo+bestaudio), output to given
container format. One of mkv, mp4, ogg,
webm, flv. Ignored if no merge is required

Subtitle Options:

--write-sub                      Write subtitle file
--write-auto-sub                 Write automatically generated subtitle file
(YouTube only)
--all-subs                       Download all the available subtitles of the
video
--list-subs                      List all available subtitles for the video
--sub-format FORMAT              Subtitle format, accepts formats
preference, for example: "srt" or
"ass/srt/best"
--sub-lang LANGS                 Languages of the subtitles to download
(optional) separated by commas, use --list-
subs for available language tags

Authentication Options:

-u, --username USERNAME          Login with this account ID
-p, --password PASSWORD          Account password. If this option is left
out, youtube-dl will ask interactively.
-2, --twofactor TWOFACTOR        Two-factor authentication code
-n, --netrc                      Use .netrc authentication data
--video-password PASSWORD        Video password (vimeo, smotri, youku)

Adobe Pass Options:

--ap-mso MSO                     Adobe Pass multiple-system operator (TV
provider) identifier, use --ap-list-mso for
a list of available MSOs
--ap-username USERNAME           Multiple-system operator account login
--ap-password PASSWORD           Multiple-system operator account password.
If this option is left out, youtube-dl will
ask interactively.
--ap-list-mso                    List all supported multiple-system
operators

Post-processing Options:

-x, --extract-audio              Convert video files to audio-only files
(requires ffmpeg or avconv and ffprobe or
avprobe)
--audio-format FORMAT            Specify audio format: "best", "aac",
"vorbis", "mp3", "m4a", "opus", or "wav";
"best" by default; No effect without -x
--audio-quality QUALITY          Specify ffmpeg/avconv audio quality, insert
a value between 0 (better) and 9 (worse)
for VBR or a specific bitrate like 128K
(default 5)
--recode-video FORMAT            Encode the video to another format if
necessary (currently supported:
mp4|flv|ogg|webm|mkv|avi)
--postprocessor-args ARGS        Give these arguments to the postprocessor
-k, --keep-video                 Keep the video file on disk after the post-
processing; the video is erased by default
--no-post-overwrites             Do not overwrite post-processed files; the
post-processed files are overwritten by
default
--embed-subs                     Embed subtitles in the video (only for mp4,
webm and mkv videos)
--embed-thumbnail                Embed thumbnail in the audio as cover art
--add-metadata                   Write metadata to the video file
--metadata-from-title FORMAT     Parse additional metadata like song title /
artist from the video title. The format
syntax is the same as --output, the parsed
parameters replace existing values.
Additional templates: %(album)s,
%(artist)s. Example: --metadata-from-title
"%(artist)s - %(title)s" matches a title
like "Coldplay - Paradise"
--xattrs                         Write metadata to the video file's xattrs
(using dublin core and xdg standards)
--fixup POLICY                   Automatically correct known faults of the
file. One of never (do nothing), warn (only
emit a warning), detect_or_warn (the
default; fix file if we can, warn
otherwise)
--prefer-avconv                  Prefer avconv over ffmpeg for running the
postprocessors (default)
--prefer-ffmpeg                  Prefer ffmpeg over avconv for running the
postprocessors
--ffmpeg-location PATH           Location of the ffmpeg/avconv binary;
either the path to the binary or its
containing directory.
--exec CMD                       Execute a command on the file after
downloading, similar to find's -exec
syntax. Example: --exec 'adb push {}
/sdcard/Music/ && rm {}'
--convert-subs FORMAT            Convert the subtitles to other format
(currently supported: srt|ass|vtt)

CONFIGURATION

You can configure youtube-dl by placing any supported command line option to a configuration file. On Linux and OS X, the system wide configuration file is located at /etc/youtube-dl.conf and the user wide configuration file at ~/.config/youtube-dl/config. On Windows, the user wide configuration file locations are %APPDATA%\youtube-dl\config.txt or C:\Users\<user name>\youtube-dl.conf. Note that by default configuration file may not exist so you may need to create it yourself.

For example, with the following configuration file youtube-dl will always extract the audio, not copy the mtime, use a proxy and save all videos under Movies directory in your home directory:

# Lines starting with # are comments
# Always extract audio
-x
# Do not copy the mtime
--no-mtime
# Use this proxy
--proxy 127.0.0.1:3128
# Save all videos under Movies directory in your home directory
-o ~/Movies/%(title)s.%(ext)s

Note that options in configuration file are just the same options aka switches used in regular command line calls thus there must be no whitespace after - or --, e.g. -o or --proxy but not - o or -- proxy.

You can use --ignore-config if you want to disable the configuration file for a particular youtube-dl run.

You can also use --config-location if you want to use custom configuration file for a particular youtube-dl run.

Authentication with .netrc file

You may also want to configure automatic credentials storage for extractors that support authentication (by providing login and password with --username and --password) in order not to pass credentials as command line arguments on every youtube-dl execution and prevent tracking plain text passwords in the shell command history. You can achieve this using a .netrc file on a per extractor basis. For that you will need to create a .netrc file in your $HOME and restrict permissions to read/write by only you:

touch $HOME/.netrc
chmod a-rwx,u+rw $HOME/.netrc

After that you can add credentials for an extractor in the following format, where extractor is the name of the extractor in lowercase:

machine <extractor> login <login> password <password>

For example:

machine youtube login myaccount@gmail.com password my_youtube_password
machine twitch login my_twitch_account_name password my_twitch_password

To activate authentication with the .netrc file you should pass --netrc to youtube-dl or place it in the configuration file.

On Windows you may also need to setup the %HOME% environment variable manually.

OUTPUT TEMPLATE

The -o option allows users to indicate a template for the output file names.

tl;dr: navigate me to examples.

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 is a percent symbol followed by a name in parentheses, followed by a lowercase S. Allowed names are:

  • id: Video identifier
  • title: Video title
  • url: Video URL
  • ext: Video filename extension
  • alt_title: A secondary title of the video
  • display_id: An alternative identifier for the video
  • uploader: Full name of the video uploader
  • license: License name the video is licensed under
  • creator: The creator of the video
  • release_date: The date (YYYYMMDD) when the video was released
  • timestamp: UNIX timestamp of the moment the video became available
  • upload_date: Video upload date (YYYYMMDD)
  • uploader_id: Nickname or id of the video uploader
  • location: Physical location where the video was filmed
  • duration: Length of the video in seconds
  • view_count: How many users have watched the video on the platform
  • like_count: Number of positive ratings of the video
  • dislike_count: Number of negative ratings of the video
  • repost_count: Number of reposts of the video
  • average_rating: Average rating give by users, the scale used depends on the webpage
  • comment_count: Number of comments on the video
  • age_limit: Age restriction for the video (years)
  • format: A human-readable description of the format
  • format_id: Format code specified by --format
  • format_note: Additional info about the format
  • width: Width of the video
  • height: Height of the video
  • resolution: Textual description of width and height
  • tbr: Average bitrate of audio and video in KBit/s
  • abr: Average audio bitrate in KBit/s
  • acodec: Name of the audio codec in use
  • asr: Audio sampling rate in Hertz
  • vbr: Average video bitrate in KBit/s
  • fps: Frame rate
  • vcodec: Name of the video codec in use
  • container: Name of the container format
  • filesize: The number of bytes, if known in advance
  • filesize_approx: An estimate for the number of bytes
  • protocol: The protocol that will be used for the actual download
  • extractor: Name of the extractor
  • extractor_key: Key name of the extractor
  • epoch: Unix epoch when creating the file
  • autonumber: Five-digit number that will be increased with each download, starting at zero
  • playlist: Name or id of the playlist that contains the video
  • playlist_index: Index of the video in the playlist padded with leading zeros according to the total length of the playlist
  • playlist_id: Playlist identifier
  • playlist_title: Playlist title

Available for the video that belongs to some logical chapter or section:

  • chapter: Name or title of the chapter the video belongs to
  • chapter_number: Number of the chapter the video belongs to
  • chapter_id: Id of the chapter the video belongs to

Available for the video that is an episode of some series or programme:

  • series: Title of the series or programme the video episode belongs to
  • season: Title of the season the video episode belongs to
  • season_number: Number of the season the video episode belongs to
  • season_id: Id of the season the video episode belongs to
  • episode: Title of the video episode
  • episode_number: Number of the video episode within a season
  • episode_id: Id of the video episode

Available for the media that is a track or a part of a music album:

  • track: Title of the track
  • track_number: Number of the track within an album or a disc
  • track_id: Id of the track
  • artist: Artist(s) of the track
  • genre: Genre(s) of the track
  • album: Title of the album the track belongs to
  • album_type: Type of the album
  • album_artist: List of all artists appeared on the album
  • disc_number: Number of the disc or other physical medium the track belongs to
  • release_year: Year (YYYY) when the album was released

Each aforementioned sequence when referenced in an output template will be replaced by the actual value corresponding to the sequence name. Note that some of the sequences are not guaranteed to be present since they depend on the metadata obtained by a particular extractor. Such sequences will be replaced with NA.

For example for -o %(title)s-%(id)s.%(ext)s and an mp4 video with title youtube-dl test video and id BaW_jenozKcj, this will result in a youtube-dl test video-BaW_jenozKcj.mp4 file created in the current directory.

Output templates can also contain arbitrary hierarchical path, e.g. -o '%(playlist)s/%(playlist_index)s - %(title)s.%(ext)s' which will result in downloading each video in a directory corresponding to this path template. Any missing directory will be automatically created for you.

To use percent literals in an output template use %%. To output to stdout use -o -.

The current default template is %(title)s-%(id)s.%(ext)s.

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:

Output template and Windows batch files

If you are using an output template inside a Windows batch file then you must escape plain percent characters (%) by doubling, so that -o "%(title)s-%(id)s.%(ext)s" should become -o "%%(title)s-%%(id)s.%%(ext)s". However you should not touch %‘s that are not plain characters, e.g. environment variables for expansion should stay intact: -o "C:\%HOMEPATH%\Desktop\%%(title)s.%%(ext)s".

Output template examples

Note on Windows you may need to use double quotes instead of single.

$ youtube-dl --get-filename -o '%(title)s.%(ext)s' BaW_jenozKc
youtube-dl test video ''_ä↭????.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
# Download YouTube playlist videos in separate directory indexed by video order in a playlist
$ youtube-dl -o '%(playlist)s/%(playlist_index)s - %(title)s.%(ext)s' https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwiyx1dc3P2JR9N8gQaQN_BCvlSlap7re
# Download all playlists of YouTube channel/user keeping each playlist in separate directory:
$ youtube-dl -o '%(uploader)s/%(playlist)s/%(playlist_index)s - %(title)s.%(ext)s' https://www.youtube.com/user/TheLinuxFoundation/playlists
# Download Udemy course keeping each chapter in separate directory under MyVideos directory in your home
$ youtube-dl -u user -p password -o '~/MyVideos/%(playlist)s/%(chapter_number)s - %(chapter)s/%(title)s.%(ext)s' https://www.udemy.com/java-tutorial/
# Download entire series season keeping each series and each season in separate directory under C:/MyVideos
$ youtube-dl -o "C:/MyVideos/%(series)s/%(season_number)s - %(season)s/%(episode_number)s - %(episode)s.%(ext)s" http://videomore.ru/kino_v_detalayah/5_sezon/367617
# Stream the video being downloaded to stdout
$ youtube-dl -o - BaW_jenozKc

FORMAT SELECTION

By default youtube-dl tries to download the best available quality, i.e. if you want the best quality you don’t need to pass any special options, youtube-dl will guess it for you by default.

But sometimes you may want to download in a different format, for example when you are on a slow or intermittent connection. The key mechanism for achieving this is so-called format selection based on which you can explicitly specify desired format, select formats based on some criterion or criteria, setup precedence and much more.

The general syntax for format selection is --format FORMAT or shorter -f FORMAT where FORMAT is a selector expression, i.e. an expression that describes format or formats you would like to download.

tl;dr: navigate me to examples.

The simplest case is requesting a specific format, for example with -f 22 you can download the format with format code equal to 22. You can get the list of available format codes for particular video using --list-formats or -F. Note that these format codes are extractor specific.

You can also use a file extension (currently 3gp, aac, flv, m4a, mp3, mp4, ogg, wav, webm are supported) to download the best quality format of a particular file extension served as a single file, e.g. -f webm will download the best quality format with the webm extension served as a single file.

You can also use special names to select particular edge case formats:

  • best: Select the best quality format represented by a single file with video and audio.
  • worst: Select the worst quality format represented by a single file with video and audio.
  • bestvideo: Select the best quality video-only format (e.g. DASH video). May not be available.
  • worstvideo: Select the worst quality video-only format. May not be available.
  • bestaudio: Select the best quality audio only-format. May not be available.
  • worstaudio: Select the worst quality audio only-format. May not be available.

For example, to download the worst quality video-only format you can use -f worstvideo.

If you want to download multiple videos and they don’t have the same formats available, you can specify the order of preference using slashes. Note that slash is left-associative, i.e. formats on the left hand side are preferred, for example -f 22/17/18 will download format 22 if it’s available, otherwise it will download format 17 if it’s available, otherwise it will download format 18 if it’s available, otherwise it will complain that no suitable formats are available for download.

If you want to download several formats of the same video use a comma as a separator, e.g. -f 22,17,18 will download all these three formats, of course if they are available. Or a more sophisticated example combined with the precedence feature: -f 136/137/mp4/bestvideo,140/m4a/bestaudio.

You can also filter the video formats by putting a condition in brackets, as in -f "best[height=720]" (or -f "[filesize>10M]").

The following numeric meta fields can be used with comparisons <, <=, >, >=, = (equals), != (not equals):

  • filesize: The number of bytes, if known in advance
  • width: Width of the video, if known
  • height: Height of the video, if known
  • tbr: Average bitrate of audio and video in KBit/s
  • abr: Average audio bitrate in KBit/s
  • vbr: Average video bitrate in KBit/s
  • asr: Audio sampling rate in Hertz
  • fps: Frame rate

Also filtering work for comparisons = (equals), != (not equals), ^= (begins with), $= (ends with), *= (contains) and following string meta fields:

  • ext: File extension
  • acodec: Name of the audio codec in use
  • vcodec: Name of the video codec in use
  • container: Name of the container format
  • protocol: The protocol that will be used for the actual download, lower-case (http, https, rtsp, rtmp, rtmpe, mms, f4m, ism, m3u8, or m3u8_native)
  • format_id: A short description of the format

Note that none of the aforementioned meta fields are guaranteed to be present since this solely depends on the metadata obtained by particular extractor, i.e. the metadata offered by the video hoster.

Formats for which the value is not known are excluded unless you put a question mark (?) after the operator. You can combine format filters, so -f "[height <=? 720][tbr>500]" selects up to 720p videos (or videos where the height is not known) with a bitrate of at least 500 KBit/s.

You can merge the video and audio of two formats into a single file using -f <video-format>+<audio-format> (requires ffmpeg or avconv installed), for example -f bestvideo+bestaudio will download the best video-only format, the best audio-only format and mux them together with ffmpeg/avconv.

Format selectors can also be grouped using parentheses, for example if you want to download the best mp4 and webm formats with a height lower than 480 you can use -f '(mp4,webm)[height<480]'.

Since the end of April 2015 and version 2015.04.26, youtube-dl uses -f bestvideo+bestaudio/best as the default format selection (see #5447, #5456). If ffmpeg or avconv are installed this results in downloading bestvideo and bestaudioseparately and muxing them together into a single file giving the best overall quality available. Otherwise it falls back to bestand results in downloading the best available quality served as a single file. best is also needed for videos that don’t come from YouTube because they don’t provide the audio and video in two different files. If you want to only download some DASH formats (for example if you are not interested in getting videos with a resolution higher than 1080p), you can add -f bestvideo[height<=?1080]+bestaudio/best to your configuration file. Note that if you use youtube-dl to stream to stdout(and most likely to pipe it to your media player then), i.e. you explicitly specify output template as -o -, youtube-dl still uses -f best format selection in order to start content delivery immediately to your player and not to wait until bestvideo and bestaudio are downloaded and muxed.

If you want to preserve the old format selection behavior (prior to youtube-dl 2015.04.26), i.e. you want to download the best available quality media served as a single file, you should explicitly specify your choice with -f best. You may want to add it to the configuration file in order not to type it every time you run youtube-dl.

Format selection examples

Note on Windows you may need to use double quotes instead of single.

# Download best mp4 format available or any other best if no mp4 available
$ youtube-dl -f 'bestvideo[ext=mp4]+bestaudio[ext=m4a]/best[ext=mp4]/best'
# Download best format available but not better that 480p
$ youtube-dl -f 'bestvideo[height<=480]+bestaudio/best[height<=480]'
# Download best video only format but no bigger than 50 MB
$ youtube-dl -f 'best[filesize<50M]'
# Download best format available via direct link over HTTP/HTTPS protocol
$ youtube-dl -f '(bestvideo+bestaudio/best)[protocol^=http]'
# Download the best video format and the best audio format without merging them
$ youtube-dl -f 'bestvideo,bestaudio' -o '%(title)s.f%(format_id)s.%(ext)s'

Note that in the last example, an output template is recommended as bestvideo and bestaudio may have the same file name.

VIDEO SELECTION

Videos can be filtered by their upload date using the options --date, --datebefore or --dateafter. They accept dates in two formats:

  • Absolute dates: Dates in the format YYYYMMDD.
  • Relative dates: Dates in the format (now|today)[+-][0-9](day|week|month|year)(s)?

Examples:

# Download only the videos uploaded in the last 6 months
$ youtube-dl --dateafter now-6months
# Download only the videos uploaded on January 1, 1970
$ youtube-dl --date 19700101
$ # Download only the videos uploaded in the 200x decade
$ youtube-dl --dateafter 20000101 --datebefore 20091231