How to download YouTube, Google and all Flash-Based Videos

After I have identified several YouTube videos useful for teaching physics, I found out that some schools do not allow their computers to access the YouTube website. I had to figure out a method for the teachers to get (download) the videos so that they can use them in class without having to connect to YouTube. As of 11/17/2007, I figured out the following solution. It was not tested with the teachers at this time. (Check the updated information at the bottom. )

  1. Update 04/14/2013:
  2. Update 01/11/2009: Another alternative that I just came across and that works for both Macs and PCs is the following.
  3. Update 07/31/2008: Use information on the last item in the list to download no-YouTube videos.
  4. YouTube videos are delivered in FLV format. This means that the teacher needs to have a video player in their computer capable of playing FLV files. To test if you have one available, download this one (by clicking on the link - password required), unzip it, then try doubled clicking on the included FLV file. It it runs, you are in business. Skip then to step 3. If it does not run, go to step 2.
  5. Install a video player capable of playing FLV file formats. I have tested the windows version of VLC media player ( on 11/17/2007. It is freeware, and it works very well. It requires an installation.
  6. Identify the video you want to download and record its url. It should be in this format:
  7. Download the video into your computer. I have tried and They both download the video to your default download directory (it is the desktop in my case.) In both cases, the downloaded file is called something like "get_video.flv".
  8. Rename the file to whatever name you prefer without changing the extension. For example to glass.flv
  9. Use the video player to play the file.
  10. In most cases, you will need to convert the FLV file to other formats. To do that, on 11/17/2007 I have downloaded and tested SUPER from It worked wonderfully. It is free. It requires a little know how. The download page is also somewhat confusing.
  11. Update 07/31/2008: A better approach is now possible with the current version of Firefox (version 3.01). In this case, select the "Tools" menu, and select "Add-ons". Use the provided interface to search for "DownloadHelper" and install it. Once installed, DownloadHelper adds a menu item to "Tools" menu. Under that item, you can select preferences and then select conversions. You will then need to install a converter application. DownloadHelper sends you to this site from where you can download ConvertHelper: The software is also a freeware. Once you install the software, you can enable conversion. Adding new rules allows you to add new conversion formats.
    • You can do the conversion online to formats compatible to any platform by using this website:
    • This site provides free applications for converting videos. They provide both PC and Mac downloads: (I have not tried either application)