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Did you know MPEG Streamclip could convert YouTube videos?

I didn't. But I'm happy to know that now.

By Scott Simmons | January 09, 2012


File this post under "how in the hell did I not know MPEG Streamclip could do this!" This being take the URL of a YouTube video and convert it into a usable file. That is one of those tasks that has come up time and time again and I've often struggled with how to make it happen. I'm not sure how long MPEG Streamclip has had this function but I'm going to chalk it up to you learn something new every day.

Have you ever tried to download a YouTube clip? If you Google "how to download YouTube videos" then you're faced with an overwhelming number of links and options that often don't work or look to be some type of scam. Enter MPEG Streamclip.

It's very simple to do. First, find your YouTube clip of choice and copy the URL.

Then go under File: Open URL:


You'll then get a dialog box where you can paste the YouTube URL:


There's a number of option here worth exploring but the most important ones are on the left.

Open will open the YouTube clip in the MPEG Streamclip window where you can then do just about anything with the clip that you would with any other clip in an MPEG Streamclip window.

Convert takes you to the MPEG Streamclip task box. There you have to first choose a task:


I'm usually wanting to convert the clip to an MP4 for playback on an iPhone or iPad so I choose Export to MPEG-4. That takes you to the Exporter. There I choose the iTunes button that has presets for most Apple devices:


Download is my favorite option and it will do just that: download the YouTube clip to your hard drive. Fast and easy. If you notice in the above image there's a radio button for HD. Leave that checked and you'll get an HD version of the clip if it is available.

I was using the beta version 1.9.3b7 to make this work. I'm sure it's all entirely legal but could be broken by YouTube at any point so your mileage may vary. Then again maybe MPEG Streamclip has been able to do this all along!

MPEG Streamclip from Squared 5 is a Swiss Army knife of post-production. It is free (available for both Mac and Windows) and should be in every editor's toolbox. Chances are it already is so if you didn't know it could grab YouTube clips then I hope you learned something with this post.

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azizi: | January, 09, 2012

If you use the Mozilla Firefox browser, it has an app called Video Download helper which downloads You Tube videos with just one click.

Rob: | January, 09, 2012

This is really good news ... or would have been if I could get it to work.

I tried a youtube video but got this message:

“You are going to batch download several movies.”
Screenshot of this dialog box

I went ahead and tried anyway but got this error:

I tried several other videos but they didn’t work either. I’ll look into it a bit further and report back if I discover anything useful.

Rob: | January, 09, 2012

Okay, the answer is ... get the beta version of MPEG Streamclip.

Once I downloaded 1.2.1b5 on my Windows machine and 1.9.3b7 on my Mac, they both work just fine.

Now I see in your first image on this page you have 1.9.3b7. One of the things they list as fixed in these versions are some problems with YouTube videos.

Very cool tip. Thanks.

themacdaddy: | January, 10, 2012

You should know this feature gets “broken” often and will require the latest beta release if it’s been fixed at all.

Scott Simmons: | January, 10, 2012

Yep themacdaddy, that’s why I mentioned it in the next to last paragraph. wink

bsmokler: | January, 15, 2012

Something else really cool MPEG Streamclip will do is join video files together.  It arranges the clips alphabetically so be sure to name the clips accordingly, with the one you want at the head named so it appears earlier in the alphabet than the 2nd (or 3rd, )etc.  Very handy to add a title slide or append credits etc.  Icing on the cake is that it will do this as a batch operation so you can stack a bunch up and let it render.

Sjaal Breien: | March, 30, 2012

Wow, this is great stuff.  I tried it and got it wright from the first time.  Thanks for the tip Azizi.
Do you have some more ?

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