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The Ultimate youtube-dl Tutorial: How to Download Any YouTube Playlist


How to Use youtube-dl to Download a Playlist from YouTube




YouTube is one of the most popular video-sharing platforms in the world, with billions of hours of content available for streaming and watching. However, sometimes you may want to download a video or a playlist from YouTube for offline viewing, backup, or editing purposes. How can you do that easily and efficiently?


In this article, we will show you how to use youtube-dl, a powerful command-line tool that can download videos from YouTube and other sites, to download a playlist from YouTube. We will also explain how to install youtube-dl and ffmpeg, a software that can convert video formats, on Windows, Mac, and Linux. By the end of this article, you will be able to download any playlist from YouTube with just a few commands.




youtube dl download playlist



What is youtube-dl and why use it?




youtube-dl is a command-line tool that can download videos from YouTube and other sites




youtube-dl is a free and open-source program that can download videos from YouTube.com and hundreds of other video sites. It is written in Python and runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and other Unix-like systems. It requires the Python interpreter (version 2.6, 2.7, or 3.2+) to run.


youtube-dl works by taking a video URL as an input and downloading the video file to your computer. You can also use it to download audio files, subtitles, playlists, channels, live streams, and more. You can specify the quality, format, filename, location, and other parameters of the downloaded file.


youtube-dl has many features and options that make it versatile and powerful




youtube-dl is not just a simple downloader. It has many features and options that make it versatile and powerful. Some of them are:


  • It supports downloading videos from hundreds of sites besides YouTube, such as Vimeo, Dailymotion, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.



  • It can download multiple videos at once using a batch file or a playlist URL.



  • It can resume interrupted downloads and skip already downloaded files.



  • It can extract audio from video files and convert them to MP3 or other formats using ffmpeg.



  • It can download subtitles, annotations, thumbnails, metadata, descriptions, comments, etc. along with the video files.



  • It can embed subtitles or metadata into the video files using ffmpeg.



  • It can automatically update itself to the latest version.



It has many advanced options for filtering, sorting, formatting, post-processing, logging, authentication, proxying, How to install youtube-dl and ffmpeg on Windows, Mac, and Linux




Download the youtube-dl executable file and the ffmpeg binary file from their official sites




To use youtube-dl, you need to download the youtube-dl executable file from its official site: https://youtube-dl.org/. You can choose the version that matches your operating system: Windows, Mac, or Linux. The file is a single executable that does not require installation. You just need to save it to your computer and run it from the command line.


To use ffmpeg, you need to download the ffmpeg binary file from its official site: https://ffmpeg.org/download.html. You can choose the version that matches your operating system: Windows, Mac, or Linux. The file is a compressed archive that contains the ffmpeg executable and some libraries. You need to extract it to your computer and run it from the command line.


Add the youtube-dl and ffmpeg files to your system path or move them to a convenient location




To make it easier to use youtube-dl and ffmpeg, you need to add them to your system path or move them to a convenient location. The system path is a list of folders that your computer searches when you run a command. By adding youtube-dl and ffmpeg to your system path, you can run them from any folder without typing the full path.


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To add youtube-dl and ffmpeg to your system path on Windows, you need to follow these steps:


  • Open the Control Panel and click on System and Security.



  • Click on System and then on Advanced system settings.



  • Click on Environment Variables and then on Path under System variables.



  • Click on Edit and then on New.



  • Type the full path of the folder where you saved youtube-dl and ffmpeg, such as C:\Users\YourName\Downloads\youtube-dl or C:\Users\YourName\Downloads\ffmpeg.



  • Click on OK and then on OK again.



  • Close the Control Panel and restart your computer.



To add youtube-dl and ffmpeg to your system path on Mac or Linux, you need to follow these steps:


  • Open a terminal window and type the following command: echo $PATH. This will show you the current value of your system path.



  • Type the following command: export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/youtube-dl:/path/to/ffmpeg. Replace /path/to/youtube-dl and /path/to/ffmpeg with the full paths of the folders where you saved youtube-dl and ffmpeg, such as /Users/YourName/Downloads/youtube-dl or /Users/YourName/Downloads/ffmpeg.



  • Type the following command: echo $PATH again. This will show you the updated value of your system path.



  • Close the terminal window.



If you do not want to add youtube-dl and ffmpeg to your system path, you can move them to a convenient location, such as your desktop or your home folder. This way, you can run them by typing their names followed by a space and the video URL.


Test if youtube-dl and ffmpeg are working by running some commands in the terminal or command prompt




To test if youtube-dl and ffmpeg are working properly, you can run some commands in the terminal or command prompt window. To open a terminal window on Mac or Linux, you can press Ctrl+Alt+T or search for Terminal in the applications menu. To open a command prompt window on Windows, you can press Windows+R or search for Command Prompt in the Start menu.


To test if youtube-dl is working, you can run the following command: youtube-dl --version. This will show you the current version of youtube-dl that you have installed. If you see an error message, it means that youtube-dl is not installed correctly or not added to your system path.


To test if ffmpeg is working, you can run the following command: ffmpeg -version. This will show you the current version of ffmpeg that you have installed. If you see an error message, it means that ffmpeg is not installed correctly or not added to your system path. How to download a playlist from YouTube using youtube-dl




Find the playlist URL on YouTube and copy it to your clipboard




To download a playlist from YouTube using youtube-dl, you need to find the playlist URL and copy it to your clipboard. The playlist URL is the web address that appears in your browser when you open a playlist on YouTube. It usually starts with https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list= followed by a long string of letters and numbers.


To find the playlist URL, you can do one of the following:


  • Go to the YouTube homepage and click on the Library tab on the left sidebar. Then, click on the playlist that you want to download and copy the URL from the browser.



  • Go to the YouTube channel that created the playlist and click on the Playlists tab. Then, click on the playlist that you want to download and copy the URL from the browser.



  • Search for the playlist on YouTube using keywords or filters. Then, click on the playlist that you want to download and copy the URL from the browser.



  • Paste the playlist URL that someone else shared with you or that you found online.



Once you have copied the playlist URL, you can proceed to the next step.


Open a terminal or command prompt window and navigate to the folder where you want to save the videos




To download a playlist from YouTube using youtube-dl, you need to open a terminal or command prompt window and navigate to the folder where you want to save the videos. The folder can be any location on your computer, such as your desktop, your downloads folder, or a custom folder that you created.


To open a terminal window on Mac or Linux, you can press Ctrl+Alt+T or search for Terminal in the applications menu. To open a command prompt window on Windows, you can press Windows+R or search for Command Prompt in the Start menu.


To navigate to the folder where you want to save the videos, you need to use some commands that change your current directory. The current directory is the folder that you are currently working in. You can see it by typing pwd (print working directory) on Mac or Linux, or cd (change directory) on Windows.


To change your current directory, you need to type cd followed by a space and then the path of the folder that you want to go to. The path is a sequence of folders that leads to your destination folder. You can use / (slash) on Mac or Linux, or \ (backslash) on Windows, to separate each folder in the path.


For example, if you want to go to your desktop folder, you can type:


cd /Users/YourName/Desktop # Mac or Linux cd C:\Users\YourName\Desktop # Windows


If you want to go back to your previous folder, you can type:


cd .. # Mac, Linux, or Windows


If you want to go to your home folder, you can type:


cd # Mac or Linux cd %USERPROFILE% # Windows


If you are not sure about the path of your destination folder, you can use some commands that list the files and folders in your current directory. You can use ls (list) on Mac or Linux, or dir (directory) on Windows. You can also use tab (autocomplete) to fill in part of the path for you.


Once you have navigated to the folder where you want to save the videos, you can proceed to the next step. Run the youtube-dl command with the playlist URL and some options to customize the download




To download a playlist from YouTube using youtube-dl, you need to run the youtube-dl command with the playlist URL and some options to customize the download. The youtube-dl command has the following syntax:


youtube-dl [OPTIONS] [URL]


The [OPTIONS] are optional parameters that you can use to modify the behavior of youtube-dl. There are many options available, but we will only cover some of the most common ones in this article. You can see the full list of options by typing youtube-dl --help or visiting the official documentation: https://github.com/ytdl-org/youtube-dl/blob/master/README.md#options.


The [URL] is the video or playlist URL that you want to download. You can paste it from your clipboard or type it manually. You can also use a batch file that contains multiple URLs, one per line, and use the -a or --batch-file option to specify the file name.


Example of a basic command: youtube-dl --yes-playlist [playlist URL]




A basic command that can download a playlist from YouTube using youtube-dl is:


youtube-dl --yes-playlist [playlist URL]


This command will download all the videos in the playlist using the default settings. The default settings are:


  • The videos will be downloaded in the best available quality and format.



  • The videos will be saved in the current directory with their original titles as file names.



  • The videos will be downloaded one by one in the order they appear in the playlist.



  • The videos will not be converted or post-processed in any way.



The --yes-playlist option is used to confirm that you want to download the entire playlist and not just the first video. If you omit this option, youtube-dl will ask you for confirmation before downloading the playlist.


Example of an advanced command: youtube-dl -i -f mp4 --download-archive archive.txt --yes-playlist [playlist URL]




An advanced command that can download a playlist from YouTube using youtube-dl is:


youtube-dl -i -f mp4 --download-archive archive.txt --yes-playlist [playlist URL]


This command will download all the videos in the playlist using some custom settings. The custom settings are:


  • The videos will be downloaded in MP4 format, regardless of their original format.



  • The videos will be saved in the current directory with their original titles as file names.



  • The videos will be downloaded one by one in the order they appear in the playlist.



  • The videos will not be converted or post-processed in any way.



  • The videos that have been successfully downloaded will be recorded in a file named archive.txt. This file can be used to skip already downloaded files in future downloads.



  • The videos that cannot be downloaded due to errors will be skipped and reported at the end of the download.



The -i or --ignore-errors option is used to skip videos that cannot be downloaded due to errors and continue with the rest of the playlist. If you omit this option, youtube-dl will stop downloading as soon as it encounters an error.


The -f or --format option is used to specify the format of the downloaded files. You can use a single format code, such as mp4, or a combination of format codes, such as bestvideo+bestaudio, to choose the desired quality and format. You can see the available format codes for a video by typing youtube-dl -F [video URL]. If you omit this option, youtube-dl will choose the best available format by default.


The --download-archive option is used to record the IDs of the downloaded videos in a file. This file can be used to skip already downloaded files in future downloads by using the same option with the same file name. This can save time and bandwidth if you want to update your playlist regularly. If you omit this option, youtube-dl will not keep track of the downloaded files and may download them again if you run the same command later. Explanation of some common options: -i, -f, --download-archive, --yes-playlist, etc.




In the previous section, we explained some of the common options that you can use with youtube-dl to customize your download. In this section, we will explain some more options that you may find useful. Here is a table that summarizes some of the common options and their meanings:


Option


Meaning


-o or --output


Specify the file name or template of the downloaded files. You can use variables such as %(title)s, %(id)s, %(playlist)s, etc. to include information from the video or playlist in the file name. For example, -o "%(playlist)s/%(title)s.%(ext)s" will save the videos in a folder named after the playlist with their original titles and extensions.


--playlist-start and --playlist-end


Specify the start and end indices of the playlist to download. For example, --playlist-start 5 --playlist-end 10 will download the videos from the 5th to the 10th position in the playlist.


--playlist-reverse


Download the playlist in reverse order, from the last video to the first.


--playlist-random


Download the playlist in random order.


-x or --extract-audio


Extract audio from video files and convert them to MP3 or other formats using ffmpeg.


--audio-format


Specify the audio format of the extracted audio files. For example, --audio-format m4a will convert the audio files to M4A format.


--audio-quality


Specify the audio quality of the extracted audio files. For example, --audio-quality 0 will use the best available quality.


--embed-subs


Embed subtitles into the video files using ffmpeg.


--embed-thumbnail


Embed thumbnail into the audio files as cover art using ffmpeg.


--add-metadata


Add metadata to the video or audio files using ffmpeg.



You can combine multiple options to achieve different results. For example, if you want to download a playlist from YouTube as MP3 files with metadata and thumbnails, you can use this command:


youtube-dl -x --audio-format mp3 --audio-quality 0 --embed-thumbnail --add-metadata --yes-playlist [playlist URL]


Conclusion and FAQs




In this article, we have shown you how to use youtube-dl to download a playlist from YouTube. We have explained how to install youtube-dl and ffmpeg on Windows, Mac, and Linux, how to find the playlist URL on YouTube, how to run the youtube-dl command with some options to customize the download, and how to use some common options to modify the behavior of youtube-dl. We hope that you have found this article helpful and informative.


If you want to learn more about youtube-dl and its features and options, you can visit its official site: https://youtube-dl.org/, its official documentation: https://github.com/ytdl-org/youtube-dl/blob/master/README.md#readme, or its official FAQ: https://github.com/ytdl-org/youtube-dl/blob/master/README.md#faq.


Here are some frequently asked questions about youtube-dl and downloading playlists from YouTube:


How can I update youtube-dl to the latest version?




You can update youtube-dl to the latest version by running this command:


youtube-dl -U


This will download and install the latest version of youtube-dl from its official site. You may need administrator privileges to do this.


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