Saving YouTube Videos to Your Hard Drive

Q: I tried to show a friend an old YouTube video I had enjoyed and it was gone, removed from the site. Is there any way that I can save them to my hard drive for future reference?

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A: You've all seen it: The black box of YouTube copyright infringement. You enjoy a clip on the streaming video website and hope to return to it again, only to find this and to be reminded that not everything lives online forever.

If you do see something you like, though, there are ways to save it to your personal hard drive so that, if erased, you will still have access to it. Keepvid is one option. Visit the site, plug the URL of the video page into the download bar and Keepvid will automatically give you a number of file options -- mp4, 3gp, flv -- and file sizes to choose from. But be warned: Accessing videos with outside services could be considered a violation of YouTube's Terms of Service.

"You agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Service itself, the Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate," states Section 4, Part C of the Terms. (How bad could it be? There's even a YouTube video about how to save YouTube videos to your computer.)

It works for more than just YouTube. You can use Keepvid -- and similar services -- for other videos you find online. TED, Google Video, Facebook and Vimeo are just some of the sites that Keepvid supports.

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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