YouTube-DL is a command line tool written in Python to help users download videos from YouTube, Dailymotion, Yahoo, Facebook, Flickr,  PressTV and many other sites. YouTube-DL is a cross-platform piece of software, it runs on Windows, Linux/Unix, and macOS.

YouTube-DL support download from many sites in different formats, both as a video and audio files. By default, youtube-dl will pick the highest quality but you can obtain low quality if you have a slow internet connection by passing some options.

This tutorial will take you through how to install and use YouTube-DL on Ubuntu 18.04.

Other good features of youtube-dl include:

  • Resuming interrupted downloads
  • Extracting mp3 from video files
  • Downloading all video files from a playlist
  • Download only the videos uploaded in the last x days
  • Set  Maximum download rate
  • Embed subtitle into the video while downloading

How to install youtube-dl on Ubuntu

There are three ways to install youtube-dl on Ubuntu 18.04 system. We will consider the installation of youtube-dl from all the three methods:

Install youtube-dl from apt

The first and easy method is installing youtube-dl from apt repository. For this, you just need to run the command:

sudo apt-get install youtube-dl

Install youtube-dl using pip

youtube-dl package can also be installed using pip. First, install packagepython-pip.

sudo apt-get install python-pip

Once pip is present on the system, use it to install youtube-dl :

sudo pip install youtube-dl

Install youtube-dl from binary

Youtube-dl is also distributed as a binary package which you can download and install it.

sudo wget -O /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
hash -r

Update YouTube-DL

You can always update youtube-dl to the latest release using the command below:

sudo youtube-dl -U

How to Use youtube-dl

Once you have installed youtube-dl , see below examples of how to download Videos and extract audio with youtube-dl.

Download highest quality video

To download the highest quality of a video from a URL, use the command:


Check available video formats

YouTube-DL supports a multitude of formats, e.g  Mp4, mkv, webm, FLV e.t.c. To list available video codes, use -F option. E.g

youtube-dl -F 18 mp4 640x360 medium , avc1.42001E, mp4a.40.2@ 96k, 26.70MiB 43 webm 640x360 medium , vp8.0, vorbis@128k, 30.47MiB 22 mp4 1280x720 hd720 , avc1.64001F, mp4a.40.2@192k (best)

Take note of the format number - 18,43,22. This is used when downloading the video.

Download Specific video format

After getting a list of formats available, download specific format using -f format-number. E.g

youtube-dl -f 22

This will download format/codec1280x720 hd720.

Download Audio

You can also download audio using youtube-dl  like below:

youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3

This will extract audio from the video and save it to disk.

Download a video playlist

Youtube-dl saves all videos on a playlist by default. Just copy playlist URL and pass it to youtube-dl command line tool.


You can also start from a specified number.

youtube-dl --playlist-start 5

Force resume of partially downloaded files

To force resume of partially downloaded files without overriding completed, use -cwi options:

youtube-dl -cwi video-url

Use a proxy server to download files

youtube-dl --proxy

Download and embed subtitles to a video

Use the option --write-auto-sub to download Video subtitles if available.

youtube-dl --write-auto-sub <other-options> <url>