5 Simple Ways to Download YouTube Videos on Ubuntu

From making piano-playing cats popular to giving skilled musicians a platform, YouTube has become one of the most pivotal entertainment hubs of our generation. Not only has it successfully revolutionized entertainment; it has also made knowledge and education more accessible to the bleakest corners of the world. Founded in 2005 by three former PayPal employees, no one had thought that YouTube would go on to become the third most popular site on the Internet.

While most people use YouTube for entertainment, there a growing number of people who are incorporating this video sharing site into their studies. Thanks to revolutionary uploaders like Khan Academy, education has become simpler, more accessible, and easy to understand. That said, not everyone has access to the Internet, and sometimes, it’s a great idea to download those videos on a thumb drive and share it with others. However, as easy as it sounds, it’s not always possible to download videos off YouTube. Thanks to the dreaded copyright laws and a host of other reasons, downloading videos from YouTube is not allowed.

That said, it’s not as if you can’t download videos from YouTube. There are interesting sites like KeepVid and others that offer the functionality for free. And yeah, if you’re on Ubuntu too, there are a few options that will let you bring the best of the video-sharing site to your hard drive. So, without further ado, here are some of the best ways you can download YouTube videos from your Ubuntu desktop.


Youtube-dl is a tiny command-line program designed to help users download videos from YouTube by simply typing a command along with the URL of the video. Written in Python, this free and open-source program can run on any platform so long as the Python Interpreter is installed. Youtube-dl, apart from letting you download videos, also lets you choose which format they’ll be downloaded in. Before you start using it, it’s not a bad idea to go through the documentation once. You may also check out our quick and easy guide on downloading YouTube videos from the Linux terminal.


DamnVid is a free video downloader and converter for Linux that lets you grab videos from popular video sites like YouTube, Dailymotion, and CollegeHumor without making you go through hoops. This simple, straightforward application, once installed, can download as well as convert videos to your favorite format, all at the same time.

To install this fabulous application on your Ubuntu box, open your terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and paste or type in the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:damnvid/ppa

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install damnvid python-gdata


Similar to the aforementioned DamnVid, ClipGrab, as the name suggests, lets you grab clips from the Internet in an easy, quick, and hassle-free way. Once installed, not only can you download your favorite videos from YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion, you can also convert them to your preferred format (including simple audio).

To install this application, open your terminal and punch in the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:clipgrab-team/ppa

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install clipgrab


Downverter is a completely free video-downloading tool for Ubuntu, Windows, and Mac. The application, once installed, lets you download YouTube videos in a variety of formats. Supported formats include popular ones like MP4, MOV, AVI, 3GP, and others. Furthermore, you can also grab videos specially converted for your iPod, PSP, Pocket PC, or Mobile Phone. With an easy to use interface and a bunch of interesting features, Downverter is one of the best choices if you’re looking for a decent video grabber.


Minitube is a YouTube application for your desktop. The free and open-source tool lets you watch, search, and discover YouTube videos from your desktop without the need for any external plug-ins (not even the dreaded Flash player). Written in Qt, this application has recently added the functionality to download YouTube videos by a simple click of a button.

To download the software to your Ubuntu box, simply type in or paste the following commands in your Terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T).

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install minitube


  1. I personally find it easiest to grab the file from the cache and convert to any format necessary using ffmpeg.

    In Chrome, the flash videos are located in:
    Most media players can play that directly, but if you want to convert, ffmpeg works great.

  2. ًWOW .. ClipGrab is just awesome .. How come it is not included in repositories by default? Thanks for this great list.

  3. Damnvid didn want to download video's, clipgrab worked perfectly for me! (ubuntu 12.04)