3 Easy Ways to Download YouTube Videos in Ubuntu and Other Linux Distributions

At times you find yourself in a situation when you need to download YouTube videos in Ubuntu. For example, if you are working on a project where you need to use a video or if you want to download tutorials and lectures for offline uses.

Whatever may be your reason, in this article we shall see various ways to easily download YouTube videos in Ubuntu and other Ubuntu-based Linux distributions.

There are two ways you can do this:

Downloading videos (and potentially re-distributing it) from the internet may be illegal in many countries. Make sure that you utilize the ability to download videos unofficially for educational or archival purpose only.

Non-FOSS alert!

Some applications mentioned here are not open source. They are listed here because they are available on Linux and the article’s focus is on Linux.

Download YouTube Videos using Firefox Add-on ‘Video DownloadHelper’

Mozilla Firefox is an awesome internet browser. Most Linux distributions have Firefox installed by default. And, I’d recommend you to use it if you want non-chromium browsers to exist.

Even though you can use this extension on Chrome, you cannot download YouTube videos due to Google’s web store restrictions. So, there’s that.

Video DownloadHelper (Not FOSS but free)

Video DownloadHelper is a popular browser extension that works well with Firefox to let you download YouTube videos. It is not an open-source project. However, I’ve mentioned it because it is a popular add-on that works across multiple video streaming platforms.

You just need to click on the button below to head to the Add-on page and then add it to your browser.

You should click the “Add on Firefox” button to install this add-on.

YouTube Video Downloader Firefox

Once you have the add-on installed, you’ll see it on the top right corner of Firefox.

When you play a video on YouTube or some other video hosting websites like DailyMotion etc., you’ll notice the add-on change its colors. This means it has detected videos, and you can start downloading it.

Downloading YouTube videos in Mozilla Firefox browser
Click on the add-on to download the YouTube videos

You’ll see multiple options for downloading the videos. Videos in lower quality are smaller in file size. It’s all up to you which one you download.

Did I tell you that you can use Video DownloadHelper to download Facebook videos as well?

Yes, you can do it the same way you downloaded YouTube videos.

3 Applications to download YouTube videos in Ubuntu and other Linux distributions

If you do not want to rely on a browser extension for your video downloads, you can install a desktop tool.

The YouTube downloading tools mentioned here should work on any Linux distribution. However, the installation instructions here will be limited to Debian/Ubuntu-based distributions.

I would also like to mention xVideoServiceThief here. It was a popular video downloader for Linux for years. But you should not use xVideoServiceThief anymore as it has not seen any new developments in years. You are better off with the other video downloaders mentioned here.

Prerequisites for Using YouTube Downloader Apps

Before you try some of the options mentioned below, you will need to have youtube-dl and FFmpeg installed on your system to be able to download / choose different format to download.

FFmpeg is optional but if you want to download high-quality videos, you would need it.

You can follow our complete guide on using ffmpeg to set it up and explore more about it.

To install youtube-dl, you can type in the following commands in your Linux terminal:

sudo curl -L https://yt-dl.org/downloads/latest/youtube-dl -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

Once you download the latest version, you just need to make it executable and ready for use by typing in:

sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

You can also follow the official setup instructions if you need other methods to install it.

Once you’re done installing youtube-dl, you can easily try the options suggested below.

1. Clipgrab (Open-Source)

Downloading YouTube videos is just a matter of few clicks with Clipgrab. Just get the URL of the video, paste it in Clipgrab, select the quality, format of the video and hit Grab this clip! button.

It’s not just for YouTube, you can download videos from other major video websites such as Vimeo and Dailymotion as well.

clipgrab youtube

You can grab the AppImage file from the official site and get started with it by referring to our AppImage guide.

There’s a PPA available as well, but it’s for Ubuntu 18.04 or lower.

Here’s what you need to type to add the PPA:

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

To remove Clipgrab from the system use the following commands:

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

2. 4K Video Downloader (Not FOSS)

Similar to Clipgrab, you can use 4K Video Downloader. Even though it not an open-source project, it supports Linux and offers a deb package to install it in Ubuntu.

Also, you get a portable edition of it if you need that.

Simply paste the URL of the video, select the quality and type of video file and hit the download button. You will find other video platforms to be supported as well.

Downlpad Video From Internet

To install 4K Video Downloader in Ubuntu and other Ubuntu based Linux distributions, you can download the executable from the link below:

3. youtube-dl [Command Line]

Don’t panic just because youtube-dl is a command line tool.

It is extremely easy to use and provides a number of configuration options. For simple usage, you can use a command in the terminal like “youtube-dl URL” and it will download the YouTube video with default configuration. Downloaded files by default are stored in the Home directory.

youtube-dl in Ubuntu 14.04

Not just limited to YouTube. You can download videos from several websites including Vimeo, Dailymotion and Facebook as well

Normally, youtube-dl should be in software sources of Ubuntu. You can install it using the command below:

sudo apt install youtube-dl

However, I’d recommend you to follow the steps mentioned in the above prerequisites section to get the latest youtube-dl installed.

Do note that youtube-dl is a powerful tool. You can use it to download just the audio file from videos, download the entire playlist and download videos in different qualities. You can even download 4K videos from YouTube with this tool.

In fact, GUI applications make use of it to get the task done, all they do is try to make it easy while providing a user interface.

I recommend reading this tutorial to learn how to use more features of youtube-dl.

What’s your favorite?

If you have a slow or inconsistent internet, you should also use a download manager.

I have listed three applications to download videos in Ubuntu. Which one did you like the most?

Is your favorite YouTube downloader application not on the list? Feel free to suggest me to add it.

Become a Better Linux User

With the FOSS Weekly Newsletter, you learn useful Linux tips, discover applications, explore new distros and stay updated with the latest from Linux world


Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to It's FOSS.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.