A Simple Way To Save YouTube Videos

 

Note : I wrote this web page several years ago and have revised it several times since . However – as you know – computers , software , and the Internet are in constant flux , with changes occurring rapidly over time . To be honest I have found it very difficult to keep up with all the advances in website development , and I can no longer access YouTube web pages and their embedded videos in my outdated computers . I'm not updating this web page any more , as I can no longer verify the downloading section . However , I'm retaining it on Chemexplore for a while longer . Information about the various video and music editing applications discussed in the later sections of the web page is still relevant , and may be helpful to the reader .

Although this website is mainly about chemistry , I thought I'd take a coffee break from chemistry and write a short web page about Internet videos . YouTube is a wonderful website , exemplifying what's best about the Web : communicating and sharing information and experiences . I greatly enjoy watching YouTube videos on a wide range of subjects . In particular , YouTube is a treasure trove of popular music , both of the modern era and from many past decades . I've found hundreds of my favorite golden oldies pop songs from long ago , now mostly forgotten but still made available to the public by devoted fans as YouTube videos on the Web .

Since I have a very slow dial-up connection , it takes a long time for me to download a typical YouTube video . For example , a 5 minutes music video took about 3 hours to fully download ! Once downloaded , the video can be replayed in “real time” without any buffering . However , after I've moved on to a new web page , the video must be downloaded again for re-viewing . This isn't a problem for people with a high speed Internet connection , but it's very annoying for me . I'd like very much to save videos of interest to my computer's hard drive , so I can view them again offline any number of times . Unfortunately , there doesn't seem to be any way to save videos directly from YouTube web pages .

There are several ways of saving videos that you've watched online . All web browsers automatically save viewed content in their Internet file caches . I have MS Internet Explorer (MSIE) on my computer ; the MSIE web cache address is C:\Windows\ Temporary Internet Files . As with other web content , any downloaded videos are similarly saved in the web browser cache . When you replay a video from YouTube or some other video hosting website , your web browser is actually playing this cached copy and (fortunately for me and other dialup users) isn't downloading it a second time from the YouTube server .

After downloading and viewing YouTube (and other) videos you can search your web browser's cache for them . I arrange the files in order of size and look for the ones with the largest file sizes . This manual searching can also be done using the Start>Find>Files & Folders applet (or the equivalent on modern Windows OS) , searching in the Date tab for files modified in the past 24 hours , arranging the displayed files in order of size , then looking for them at the end of the list . The videos with their huge file sizes stick out like a sore thumb !

This procedure quickly becomes tedious , so it's simpler , faster , and easier to use a search engine to do the work for you . I use an excellent little freeware application , VideoCacheView – highly recommended – from Nirsoft , which displays all the cached video files . When I'm offline again I run VideoCacheView to search the MSIE Temporary Internet Files and display all the saved videos , which I copy to my Videos folder :

I temporarily name them 1.mp4 , 2.mp4 ......... etc. , and run them in the Media Player Classic (see below) to identify them . Then they are renamed with a short , descriptive file name as their permanent description .

And that's my recommended simple , easy way to save YouTube (and other) videos to a selected folder for offline viewing . Download and watch them on the YouTube web page as usual , and your web browser will automatically save them in its Internet cache . When you're offline later you can easily find them using VideoCacheView , from which you can copy them to your Videos (or other) folder . Rename them as *.mp4 files with a short , descriptive name , and then you can replay them in your favorite media player .

I discovered the other day that VideoCacheView couldn't locate two YouTube videos I had watched earlier in the evening . They were quickly found using the Start>Find>Files & Folders applet mentioned above . Surprise ! They , and all the other Temporary Internet files , were now being stored at C:\Windows\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\ . I reset the default storage location for the temp files to the correct location , C:\Windows\ Temporary Internet Files . VideoCacheView was once again able to find the downloaded YouTube videos .

 

Streaming Video Capture

 

The procedure I described above may seem a little low tech, but it's quite satisfactory for me . A more sophisticated way of saving YouTube (and other) videos is by streaming video capture , in which the video data stream is copied as it's being downloaded . I briefly surveyed this area , and discovered that there are many shareware programs – and even some freeware – which can save videos as they are being watched . Apparently the Mac Safari web browser can already accomplish this :

This illustration was copied from the web page discussing many methods and applications for saving Internet videos by streaming video capture , on the All-Streaming-Media.com website . The interested reader is referred to these related web pages (for example , the overview of recommended programs) for further information on this subject . A web page at Videohelp.com lists a somewhat different selection of software for video streaming capture . One of the applications they describe is another freeware program from Nirsoft , WebVideoCap v1.38 . If it works as efficiently as Video Cache View , it should be well worth trying .

I believe that streaming video capture will become quite commonplace , and may possibly even be incorporated into future versions of standard web browsers like MSIE . For example , they may have a button on their task bar which when clicked will automatically save a video that the viewer is watching to a preset folder offline . In the meantime , though , I'll have to continue with the locate and copy procedure outlined above .

 

Playing YouTube Videos Offline

 

As you can see from the VideoCacheView graphic above , YouTube videos are now in the MP4 format (they used to be flash videos , FLV) . Apparently MP4 is more convenient and accessible than FLV , which requires the Macromedia Flash Player plug-in from Adobe Systems . This seems to be especially the case with mobile devices , particularly the Apple ones , that lack the essential Adobe plug-in . I suspect YouTube switched from the FLV to MP4 format so that Apple iPads and similar devices would be able to download their videos .

MP4 videos run perfectly in the modern Windows Media Player , and acceptably (but somewhat oddly) in my old WMP v. 9 from 2002 . I installed the K-Lite Codec Pack [OldVersion.com] (light version , with the included Media Player Classic v. 6.4.9.0 from 2006) with its many – 139 – audio and video codecs . Several of these codecs enabled WMP 9 playback of MP4 videos . Media Player Classic , even my old version , plays YouTube MP4 videos perfectly .

MP4 is actually a modified version of the Apple MOV video format , which is why Apple iPads and related mobile devices can access YouTube videos , even without the Macromedia Flash Player plug-in . As an experiment I temporarily deleted my computer's Macromedia Flash Player , “FlashUtil9j.exe”, to the Recycle Bin , then went to YouTube to download a video . Even without the flash plug-in the video downloaded and played properly . When offline again I recovered it as an MP4 file from the Internet cache , and it played perfectly in Media Player Classic and in WMP 9 . After the experiment I restored the flash plug-in to its proper location in the System folder , since I still need it for playing the large number (now over 600) of FLV format videos archived up to the present time . Both Media Player Classic and WMP 9 , with the assistance of the K-Lite codecs , can play some , but not all of my archived FLV videos .......... very frustrating ! There are literally hundreds of video and audio codecs . I hope that with YouTube – the Colossus of Internet Videos – adopting MP4 , the MP4 video format will eventually become the universal standard in the field and all the others will gradually disappear .

 

Copying Music From Videos

 

You might want to copy a song from a downloaded music video . The music file can be kept in the computer , transferred to (say) an i-Pod or similar device , or burned onto a CD-R/RW music disc . For readers unfamiliar with the procedure I can recommend the following simple method . The Windows Sound Recorder applet , included with all Windows OS , can copy any audio data stream being processed by the sound card . There are also a multitude of third party sound recorder freeware applications readily available from the Web . I prefer to use the Creative Recorder , which was included with the bundled software for my computer's Sound Blaster sound card . This little recorder applet has the nice advantage of “remembering” all its settings , so it's more convenient than the Windows Sound Recorder , which unfortunately doesn't do that , and has to be reset each time it's used . The proper setting for a CD-quality WAV file is : format PCM , 44,100 Hz , 16 bit stereo , 172 Kbps .

The following illustration shows the Creative Recorder opened on top of the YouTube web page , in position for recording the audio output from a fully downloaded video :

The video illustrated is “Cascade”, by one of my favorite smooth jazz groups , Spyro Gyra . By the way , I have many Spyro Gyra CDs , including the one (their debut album in 1978) with “Cascade”. The screen shot is for illustration purposes only !

* First , the Recorder's record button is clicked , to start the copying ; wait a few seconds ;

* Second , the analog slider button is pulled to the extreme left end to begin replaying the video ;

* Third , the video is finishes playing ; wait a few seconds , then click the stop button (gray square in the picture above) .

The Recorder automatically files the resulting WAV in a preset folder . This same procedure can be used offline , when playing the original YouTube video in the Windows Media Player or Media Player Classic .

I use a variety of freeware and shareware applications to process media files according to their intended end use :

* Oxelon Media Converter for video and audio format interconversion . It's unrestricted freeware and supports all Windows OS from 98 to 8 . The Oxelon converter has codecs for dozens of video formats , and for numerous audio formats as well (it nicely converted several of my music WAV files into their corresponding MP3 files) .

The simplest and quickest way to interconvert video formats using Oxelon is by setting both the video and audio codecs to Direct Stream Copy , as shown in the following print screen graphic in which Cascade's FLV was converted into its MP4 equivalent :

The original Cascade FLV is 10,017 KB in file size , and won't run in either Windows Media Player or Media Player Classic . Its new MP4 file size is 9968 KB , and the video now runs perfectly in both WMP and MPC . The Direct Stream conversion was also very fast , completing in about 20 seconds or so !

Oxelon can also be used to digitally rip the audio stream directly from the music video without copying it via the sound card (as described above ; but such analog copying can slightly degrade the WAV file , while digital ripping produces a perfect WAV copy from the original audio) . The following print screens illustrate such digital ripping using Oxelon Media Converter :

These MP3 and WAV files sound absolutely identical to the audio on the FLV video from which they were ripped . I prefer to work with WAV files , as they can be edited in CD Wave – see immediately below – while MP3 files are “finished” and are uneditable . Note that as a rule of thumb a video x minutes long will produce an MP3 file size of ~ x MB , or a WAV file of ~ 10x MB . The WAV extraction from the video was very quick – like the Direct Stream conversion above of FLV to MP4 – but the MP3 file took several minutes to produce .

* CD Wave , to remove most of the silent sections at the beginning and end of the WAV file , leaving a small amount corresponding to about two seconds of silence at the beginning and end of the song . CD Wave also includes a sound recorder and a CD ripper , although I haven't tried either of them .

* Switch audio format converter (NCH Software) can interconvert WAVs and MP3s simply and efficiently .

* MP3 Gain can be used to adjust the volume amplitude of MP3 files . Sometimes a WAV file copied from a video will have too high a volume , with extensive clipping and resultant sound distortion . I convert it to the corresponding MP3 file , whose volume is reduced below the clipping point in MP3 Gain . Then , again using Switch , the MP3 is converted back into its WAV , now having a more moderate volume . I find that most if not all WAVs ripped from CDs have very low amplitudes (as analysed and displayed by CD Wave) . I use the reverse procedure with MP3 Gain to increase their volume amplitude to a somewhat higher level , but without any clipping . MP3 Gain can also be used to normalize batches of MP3 files , for example when preparing a set of songs before burning them onto a compilation CD-R/RW .

* Accord CD Ripper Free is an easy-to-use , efficient , and precise freeware CD ripper . It can save the ripped file in the WAV or MP3 format , as desired . It's supported by Windows XP and later .

* mpTrim is a small freeware app that I use for fading the last five seconds or so of an MP3 song that has a very abrupt ending (this sometimes happens with poorly edited YouTube videos) . Such a fade-out smoothes the closing of the song and makes it sound more professional .

* MP3tag is a comprehensive yet simple-to-use freeware app that adds metadata (MPEG ID3 tags , which are small text files at the beginning of each music track) to blank, untagged MP3 files . The information in those tags will be displayed in Windows Media Player (and in other media players , including DVD players) when the MP3 file is played . The author of MP3tag , Florian Heidenreich , has graciously provided three versions of the program's EXE installer for the different versions of Windows , from Win 95 to the modern NT OS such as Vista , 7 , and 8 .

I hope this information will be helpful to the reader who like me enjoys YouTube videos and would like to save them to his/her computer's hard drive for viewing offline . Have fun with your own Video Library !

 

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