How to download YouTube videos to Mac easily.

I discovered an easy technique for How to download YouTube videos to Mac. All you need is the Google Chrome web browser.

Last night while working on some images in Photoshop, I got the dreaded “Your scratch disc is nearly full” message pop up (something that happens way too often). The problem is, I wan everything on my internal hard drive so I have access wherever I am, whenever I want. But I digress.

I figured it was time I did some house cleaning, so started going through every folder on the drive to see what I could get rid of. Eventually I came to a folder containing the Google Chrome cache. I looked at the files and noticed that some of them were up to 30Mb in size. I double clicked on one to see what it was. It opened up in Text Editor but was just mumbo jumbo.

Then I wondered if anything would happen if I added a file extension. Figuring at that size it must be video of some kind, I added the .FLV extension. I could hardly believe it. It opened up in QuickTime and started playing. It was some video I had watched on YouTube a while back. I had finally discovered how to download YouTube videos to my Mac easily.

My brain started ticking over and I opened up the Google Chrome web browser and headed to YouTube. I clicked on the first video I came to and noticed a new file appear in the Cache folder. Once the video was completely downloaded I added the .FLV extension to the file. Again it opened and played the video. This was so much easier than any other ways I’ve tried to download YouTube videos to keep.

So here it is the simple step by step guide on how to download YouTube videos to your mac easily:

Pre Step. I guess I should point out that this technique is for Apple Mac computers running OSX. I have no idea how to do this on a PC running Windows or any other system.

1. You’ll need to be running the Google Chrome web browser. Personally I don’t really like it and only have it for testing web design stuff. But now I’ve figured this out, it just got a whole lot better. So open it up or download it from here.

2. Locate your Cache folder:

“YOUR HARD DRIVE”/Users/“YOUR USERNAME”/Library/Caches/Google/Chrome/Default/Cache/

3. Once located you’ll see a whole bunch of files. The majority of them will be named like“f_00017db” or at least they’ll start with “f_” and then a number. These are the content files. At this stage all you need to do is view the folder in the “List View” and sort by “Date Created”

4. In Google Chrome, goto YouTube.com and play the video you want to save.

5. Head back to the Cache folder you have open in Finder, you’ll notice several new files have been created. One of them will start increasing in size. This is the one to keep an eye on. At this stage I’ll add a label colour to the file so it stands out clearly.

6. Wait for the file to download completely before trying to add any extensions or you’ll wreck everything.

7. Once downloaded It’s probably safer to copy the file to a new location first. I’ll assume you know how to do that.

8. Now with the file in the new location, rename the file to anything you like but include “.FLV” extension on the end. This tells the system that it is a Flash Video file.

9. You can now open up the file in any program that plays Flash Video. I use QuickTime as I have the additional plugin required. This also allows me to export the video into any other format.

And that’s it. Simple!

[ad#Google Text Lrg Rectangle Right]I’ve also used the same trick to rip image files by adding the “.JPG” extension to the end. There is a bit of trial and error involved, which is why it’s best to copy the file to a new location first. I’ve also notice that it works with a lot of other Flash Video players too and not just YouTube.

There are some however that don’t work and, for now at least, I can’t figure them out. The files begin downloading and then for some reason the just disappear from the finder window all together.

Of course copying, ripping and stealing videos without the authors permission, is a bad thing and should not be done. But as a video post-production professional, I know there are many legitimate reasons why you would need to do this and up until now, many of the techniques are clunky, slow and produce inferior quality.

If anyone has any other easy techniques on how to download YouTube videos to a Mac, or knows if the same trick works on a Windows PC, please share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear your ideas.

By James ColeJames Cole on FacebookJames Cole on Google+James Cole on Twitter Visit author's website

James Cole is a Producer, Director, Editor and Visual Effects Artist for Hysteria Productions. He has worked on hundreds of projects from commercials and corporate videos to music videos, short films, feature films and documentaries. James is also an avid landscape photographer and digital artist with his work being shown at http://www.jcphotographicart.com
  • Tim Beachum

    Holy CRAP Batman I just tried your technique and it worked!!!! Thanks, killer POST!

  • thanks for the help…

  • thanks for the help…

  • Tim Beachum

    Holy CRAP Batman I just tried your technique and it worked!!!! Thanks, killer POST!

  • hey, nice ingenuity!
    If you use firefox, you can install a free plugin called “download helper” which lets you do it really easily. It’ll do most media on most pages.

    • Hey Tinman, Thanks for your tip, I’ll check it out.

  • Oliver

    Just remember that in incognito mode cache files are stored as “data #”, and I’m not sure if it’s possible to convert those to an FLV format.

  • Slartibartfast

    You can either do it that way or just download Realplayer and Realplayer Downloader which is an additional program and comes with it as an option. Once you have downloaded it, each time you watch a Youtube video or any other type of video online (some are blocked or protected, e.g. BBC News items etc) the program opens automatically. It gives you an option to “Download” the video which it has already prepped. All you have to do is click the download button and it shifts it to a folder in your Movies folder called Realplayer.

  • Slartibartfast

    You can either do it that way or just download Realplayer and Realplayer Downloader which is an additional program and comes with it as an option. Once you have downloaded it, each time you watch a Youtube video or any other type of video online (some are blocked or protected, e.g. BBC News items etc) the program opens automatically. It gives you an option to “Download” the video which it has already prepped. All you have to do is click the download button and it shifts it to a folder in your Movies folder called Realplayer.

  • Jory Keller

    Hey, so I did you’re steps as you said, I marked the growing f_… file with a color so I could watch it more easily, then, about 10 minutes into the 13 minute video, the file disappeared. Any idea what happened? I’m using Youtube.

  • Jreed333

    couldn’t get it to work….what do you mean wait for the file to download before adding any extensions?