A couple of times a week, I like to browse through YouTube and download a handful of the latest "must see" clips onto my iPod to share with my wife (who just doesn't have the patience to wade through all the skateboard tricks, playground fights, and "teen" diaries). It used to be a bit of a chore to download and convert those videos, but over the past few months, a flood of little helper applications have hit the Internet.
I've actually been meaning to get around to recommending a few of the YouTube download programs here, but every time I sit down to start writing I realize that as a Mac user, it's difficult for me to recommend a program for the majority of my readers, who are Windows users. Yesterday, Lifehacker recommended a website that not only downloads any YouTube Flash video file, but also converts it into your choice of five different formats, including iPod mp4. Vixi.net's FLV Online Converter is amazingly simple to use, and works directly from your browser. Just enter the URL of the video's webpage, select the format you want it converted to, and press the start button. The download and conversion are surprisingly quick, and once it's finished Vixi automatically downloads it to your computer. Simple.
There is a ton of good content on YouTube, but copyright infringement claims and DMCA take-down notices mean that any given video can disappear at any time. Having a local copy of the video means you won't lose access if YouTube removes the video from their site. And if you convert the video to MP4 format, you can transfer it to your iPod as well.
There are two excellent free services that take YouTube videos, download them to your hard drive, convert them to MP4 format and add them to iTunes. For Windows users, try iTube, available here. Mac users should use PodTube, although it requires the use of Safari.
If you just want to get access to the file and view it directly (the VLC media player will play flash-format video files) and/or convert it to another file format, you can download any YouTube video using Oyoom, or try the Firefox extension called Video Downloader. We've also written our own tool to download YouTube videos, available on this page, and it's also embedded below. Just enter any YouTube video URL and hit the "Get Video" button.
Once you have the .flv video on your hard drive, view it with VLC, or convert it to another format. For Windows users, try Replay Converter. For Mac users we recommend iSquint. There are also a few online file conversion services, but they are not as reliable as desktop software and you have to wait for both the upload and the download.
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For additional web tools and information on putting youtube movies on your iPod visit, www.topdownloadz.net
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