YouTube has gained popularity from a wide range of audiences - from kids who love to watch cartoon shows to adults who browse through TV shows they miss. It uses Adobe Flash Video technology to display its videos. It now has three main video formats: standard, high and 720p HD. Videos in standard quality are at 320x240 resolution with mono MP3 audio. High quality videos are at a resolution of 848x480 with stereo AAC audio. YouTube also supports 720p HD and displays videos at 1280x720 resolution with stereo AAC audio. However, it does not usually show download links for its videos since they want videos to be viewed through their website. Third-party programs (browser plugins, software applications, and websites) now offer a way to download YouTube videos. Some of these will be discussed here.
Mozilla Firefox browser has plugins that can download videos. One of them is VideoDownloader that can download videos from many video streaming sites including YouTube or any page that has embedded music or video. When installed, a small VideoDownloader icon will be added in the browser's status bar and toolbar. Clicking the icon while navigating in a supported page will open a dialog box. You just have to right click and save the file into your system. The file downloaded is in FLV format.
YouTube downloader is the most popular third-party software for downloading YouTube videos. Once the program is installed, it will just ask for the link of the video you want to download. After hitting the OK button, it will ask you for the file name and where would you want to save the file. The software can also download videos from other sites such as Google Video and Yahoo Video. It can convert the downloaded videos to formats compatible to your iPods, PSP, cell phones, and other media players. YouTube downloader is free and is easy to use. Another software application that can be installed is Internet Download Manager. It has an FLV Grabber feature that can also download videos from YouTube and other video sites. Internet Download Manager is supported by a wide array of browsers and operating systems.
There are websites that can download YouTube videos without installing anything. The most popular is www.keepvid.com. The main page of Keepvid asks for the YouTube link and lets you click the download button beside the text field. You can download the video as FLV or MP4 since Keepvid can convert the video to MP4 outright. A link will appear afterwards that you have to right click and then choose "Save Link As." By default, the name of the video is "video" but you can save the file with your desired file name plus the file extension of the format you choose - .flv for flash video and .mp4 for MP4.
Some media partners of YouTube offer video downloads for free or for a fee via Google Checkout. President Obama's weekly addresses to the nation videos have download links just below the video and can be downloaded for free.
YouTube has lots of videos that can be a source of entertainment at your own home without shelling out any cash. Since videos downloaded from YouTube are usually in Adobe Flash Video format, you may need players that can play flash videos like VLC. You may also convert them to video formats that are compatible to your media player or gadget.