We’ve previously extolled the virtues of youtube-dl, a hugely popular free software tool for downloading videos from YouTube and other user-uploaded video platforms.
The project has run into issues in the past, sailing close to copyright infringement claims. For example, in late 2020 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued a takedown notice to GitHub under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), requesting the removal of youtube-dl. GitHub initially complied with the takedown request, but reinstated the project’s repository after a few weeks.
More recently, youtube-dl has been beset with other issues. Historically, the project saw very active development. Yet there hasn’t been a release since December 2021, with almost no code commits for many months. More importantly, download speeds from YouTube are tragically slow. Indeed, users complain frequently of terrible slow download rates. It’s claimed that YouTube is throttling downloads, and given the lack of maintenance of youtube-dl, the issue persists.
Step forward yt-dlp. It’s a fork of youtube-dl that’s under active development. It focuses on adding new features and patches and maintaining compatibility.
Given that yt-dlp is under very active development, we don’t recommend using the package available in the Ubuntu repositories. On our Ubuntu 22.04 systems, apt pulled in the version dated 8 April 2022, which lags behind the current release.
We don’t normally recommend using a project’s binary file, but in this case that’s probably the easiest option. Make sure you download the appropriate file for your operating system. We downloaded the file yt-dlp, modified the permissions to make it an executable (see command below) and copied the file to /usr/local/bin.
$ chmod a+x yt-dlp
Many of the options mirror those with youtube-dl. For example, to show a video’s available formats, we enter the same flag as with youtube-dl:
yt-dlp offers so many YouTube improvements that we don’t have the space to cover in a single page article. We particularly love the ability to download livestreams from the start, the ability to split video by chapters, the software’s multi-threaded fragment downloads, and its self-updater.
yt-dlp is everything youtube-dl used to be and more besides. It takes all the great features of youtube-dl, exploits your full network download speeds, and offers some surprising useful features not found in other projects.
The software has a plethora of command options. They can be somewhat bamboozling to the newcomer. If you prefer a GUI front-end, give Tartube a whirl. It supports yt-dlp.
Developer: Many contributors
License: The Unlicense – free and unencumbered software released into the public domain
yt-dlp is written in Python. Learn Python with our recommended free books and free tutorials.
I concur with the article; yt-dlp blows its parent out of the water. The difference in speeds is nothing short of astounding.
I’m pretty sure YouTube will rate limit yt-dlp in the same way that youtube-dl has been effectively stymied, both in terms of legal action and lack of any meaningful development.
Downloading videos from YouTube is in breach of YouTube’s Terms of Service.