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You know that feeling of making a kick ass YouTube playlist, forgetting about it, then revisiting it a week or perhaps even months later and you find that your playlist has been gutted by deleted or privat-ed entries? The worst part about it is that that YouTube never tells you what got deleted, just “poof”, video gone, mood ruined.

Digital Heartbreak is losing a video from your playlist.
Digital Heartbreak is losing a video from your playlist.

Readers don’t let this happen to you, download and archive your favorite videos because guess what? They aren’t going to be around forever and the last thing you want is for a personal favorite to disappear from the internet entirely. Especially when tools like the ones I’m gonna talk about today exist, there’s really no excuse to not start archiving today! In no particular order, here are 3 internet video downloaders to build your media collection.

JDownloader2

Download videos using JDownloader
Downloading videos using JDownloader2
GoodBad
Download from multiple sourcesPlain UI
Multiple download options availableNo dark mode
Clipboard monitor that auto detects URLs and adds them to the queuesmall in-app banner ad for paid downloaders show up in the top right.
Robust file naming systemSpeed cap on downloads
Can parse playlists from YouTube
Highly Customizable

JDownloader2 is a free, cross platform, java-based video downloader, and is my personal favorite. JDownloader provides downloads from many sources like Youtube, Odysee, DailyMotion, Vimeo, BitChute, and many others. Lots of download formats are available per video, say for example, you only want audio or video, or only show specific file-types like webm, mkv, mp4, ogg, etc. Note that not every format is available on every video, and certain filters will leave you with no options being visible, so I recommend getting to know the program first before you go pushing every button like I do.

The quality of the video downloads are determined on what the uploader of the video provided, so unless they provided HD, don’t expect it. JDownloader has small advert that appears in the top right (visible in the screenshot) it’s out of the way enough for me, but that might bother some folks out there. Given that they don’t restrict download quality options and don’t limit the number of concurrent downloads you can have, I think they can have a pass.

The UI is straight forward but it has a lot of small text and icons that I’m not a fan of. I’d love to see a dark mode later on down the road. One of the cool features is that JDownloader can be minimized to the system tray and can be enabled to monitor your clipboard and automatically add URLS to the LinkGrabber tab so you can download them later on. Downloads are pretty smooth experience, albeit a slow one, and if your download stalls, you can try to resume it, which I’ve had luck doing sometimes, but other downloads weren’t so lucky and had to be re-downloaded. Overall JDownloader2 is a winner in my book.

How to install

Visit JDownloader2’s website for the download: https://jdownloader.org/jdownloader2

Once you downloaded the install script, follow these steps for most Linux distos:

# navigate to the download location
cd Downloads

# apply executable permission to script
chmod +x JDownloader2Setup_unix_nojre.sh

# run install script
./JDownloader2Setup_unix_nojre.sh

ClipGrab

Download videos using ClipGrab
Using ClipGrab is uncomplicated and easy.

ClipGrab is an open source downloader and converter for a number of video sites, including the obvious ones (Youtube, Dailymotion, Vimeo), but also from Facebook and lists “many other sites” on their website so it may or may not support the video you want to download, your mileage may vary. The installation is straight forward thanks to ClipGrab for providing an appimage, which is a self contained version of the app. I can’t tell you how tedious it can get when you have to hunt down 4 or 5 missing dependencies just to try a software out. After downloading the appimage, make it executable then all you’ll have to do is double click the appimage ClipGrab will start up. However, if you are a terminal freak then you can run the app from your terminal, but if you do it this way the process is tied to your terminal so if you close it, it closes the app. I advise using something like screen which well let you keep the app alive in the background if you go this route.

The program itself is very simple, it has a YouTube search tab, that didn’t seem to want to work for me initially, but when ran on A Ubuntu system, it prompted me in to install yt-dlp which is a youtube-dl fork, which made the search tab functional. Note that you’ll also need to install ffmpeg to allow for 1080p downloads.

Using ClipGrab’s built-in search to find and download videos.

There is also a tab to manually enter the URL. The downloads tab is where you’ll be spending most of your time, here you’ll find the options for download format and quality where available. ClipGrab also has a clipboard monitor that can auto detect YouTube URLs and add them to the Downloads tab. It has a built in media converter so you can grab an audio only version or convert to a couple of other video types ( WMV and MP4). If you are only going to be downloading off the supported sites or Just YouTube, ClipGrab is not a bad place to go, however, if you are into the less popular websites, you might be out of luck as support is spotty, hopefully this gets updated in the future.

GoodBad
Self contained appimageNo dark mode
Built in video converter (wmv, mp4)No wide support for other sites, odysee.com for example, didn’t work.
Audio only formats available (mp3, ogg )
Cross platform (macOS, Windows, Linux)
Clipboard monitor

How to install

Visit ClipGrab’s website for the download: https://clipgrab.org/

Once you downloaded the install script, follow these steps which should work across most distros:

cd Downloads
chmod a+x ClipGrab-3.9.7-x86_64.AppImage
./ClipGrab-3.9.7-x86_64.AppImage

youtube-dl

Don't let the command line keep you from using youtube-dl!
Don’t let the command line keep you from using youtube-dl!

Unlike the other two entires on this list, youtube-dl does not have a frontend, it is a command line tool. The cool part about this tool, besides it being a command line which automatically makes it kickass by default, the dev team behind it had their Github repo taken down for DMCA violations a couple of years ago, but they survived and had their repo reinstated and the internet is better for it. Check out the GitHub blog for a cool read, linked here.

Back on topic, unlike what it says on the tin, youtube-dl supports other websites besides YouTube, like the other big ones ( DailyMotion, Vimeo) and even odysee.com which is always neat to see. The syntax is really straight forward, and I’ll even include some starter commands but always check out their official repo for the details or use youtube-dl -h for the full list of option flags. By default videos are downloaded in mp4 but this can be changed by passing options to it.

GoodBad
Supports many video sharing sitesReading the manual
Command line tool

How to install

Make sure you have python3, git, and curl installed before you pull down this repo.

sudo curl -L <https://yt-dl.org/downloads/latest/youtube-dl> -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

youtube-dl will handle most of what you throw at it, but if you want to convert audio/video youtube-dl requires ffmpeg to handle high quality video or extract audio. You may install these via these commands.

For Debian\Ubuntu

sudo apt install ffmpeg

For Arch\Manjaro

sudo pacman -S ffmpeg

youtube-dl Cheatsheet

#update 
sudo youtube-dl -U

# download a video
youtube-dl <URL>

# output to a specific directory using python string formatting
# full list: <https://github.com/ytdl-org/youtube-dl#output-template>
youtube-dl <URL> -o ~/Downloads/'%(title)s.%(ext)s'

# download audio and convert to mp3 format at best quality, 0 is best, 9 is worst.
youtube-dl <URL> -x -o ~/Downloads/'%(title)s.%(ext)s' --audio-format "best" --audio-quality 0

# download best quality mp4 or next best available
youtube-dl <URL> -f 'bestvideo[ext=mp4]+bestaudio[ext=m4a]/best[ext=mp4]/best'

Now go forth and save your favs! Lest your playlists, internet shorts, memes, or whatever the hell this is, might get taken down for whatever stupid reason and you’ll never see them again. Also if you can, show some love to the devs, who don’t get nearly enough support or money for what they do to enable our downloading habits. Stay safe out there and remember: only you can prevent lost media, so get to downloading!

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